Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Lewisville Lake Symphony to perform one of the rarest compositions of the last century
This is the first time Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 has been performed in Texas.
LEWISVILLE The Lewisville Lake Symphony, under the authoritative baton of the orchestra's conductor and music director Adron Ming, will play a work intended only for the ears of a secretive, elite society in war-torn post World War I Vienna. It was lost for more than 25 years, smuggled out of Nazi Germany, touched by scandal and murder in England, and hunted by an American. It is a secret, rarely heard chamber version of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4.
The last movement requires a soprano to join the orchestra. Jennifer Youngs, an emerging artist with the Dallas Opera, performs this demanding role.
The one-time performance, believed to be the first in Texas, will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the MCL Grand Theater.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors (60+) and $10 for students. They may be purchased online at www.lewisvillesymphony.org and printed out on a home computer.
The "Society for Private Musical Performances" had untraditional rules. Arnold Schoenberg, its founder, believed clarity and comprehensibility of the musical presentation should be the Society's over-riding aim. Complex works were sometimes played more than once in the same concert. Applause was not permitted after any work on the program.
The dire condition of the Austrian economy meant that works demanding large orchestras could not be performed. Schoenberg commissioned highly talented musicians to devise "reductions" that recreated them as chamber compositions.
Between 1919 and 1921, the organization presented works by Stravinsky, Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Berg, and many others. In the end the Society was destroyed, not by critics, but by the hyperinflation that ravaged the post-World War I Austro-Hungarian Empire.
One of Schoenberg's most trusted conductors, Erwin Stein transformed Mahler's Symphony No. 4 into an exhilarating composition for a small orchestra. After the collapse of the Society, the score sat on a shelf in Stein's home for more than 25 years.
In 1938, Erwin Stein escaped from Germany one small step ahead of arrest and transport to a Nazi concentration camp. The Mahler score was one of the few possessions he brought to England. He married and worked in London for many years as an editor for the music publisher Boosey & Hawkes focusing mainly on Mahler, Schoenberg and Benjamin Britten.
On his death, the score passed to his daughter Marion Stein, an accomplished pianist, married to George Lascelles, the seventh Earl of Harewood, who was, at one point, sixth in line for the throne. The Earl eventually decided he preferred the violin to the piano and had an affair with Australian violinist Patricia "Bambi" Tuckwell.
After a messy divorce avidly followed by the British tabloids, the Earl married Bambi and Marion married Jeremy Thorpe, Leader of the Liberal Party. In a bonus for the tabloids, Thorpe was later acquitted by a jury and punished by the voters on the charge of conspiring to murder his male lover.
While Marion Stein was forgivably distracted from pondering the Mahler score, an American conductor, Alexander Platt, the resident conductor of the Chicago Opera for the past twelve years, was hunting for it. He found it in the papers of Benjamin Britten.
Platt realized that the only version to escape Germany was the conductor's version. He reconstructed the scores for the individual instruments and created a work that was soon performed on both sides of the Atlantic after a gap of over 80 years. Nine chamber orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic made highly regarded recordings.
"So far as we know, this is the first time the chamber version has been performed in Texas. The chamber version for 13 musicians beautifully fits the intimate nature of the grand where we can reproduce the musical experience that gave its Viennese audiences a respite from the aftermath of war," Ming said.
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