- Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Business Courier
David Robertson – conductor, artist, thinker, and American musical visionary – occupies some of the most prominent platforms on the international music scene.
Recognized for her beautiful timbre and stunning stage presence, soprano Angel Blue's voice has been hailed for its shining, agile upper register and "smoky" middle register.
A naturally gifted singer noted for her commanding stage presence and profound artistry, Jennifer Johnson Cano has garnered critical acclaim.
Rodrick Dixon possesses a tenor voice of extraordinary range and versatility that has earned him the respect and attention of leading conductors, orchestras, and opera companies throughout North America.
Praised for his “nobility and rich tone,” (The New York Times) and his “enormous, thrilling voice seemingly capable … [of] raising the dead;” (Wall Street Journal), bass-baritone Dashon Burton has established a world-wide career in opera, recital, and in many works with orchestra.
LOUIS LANGRÉE • MUSIC DIRECTOR
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles.
Additional artists include the May Festival Chorus led by the May Festival Director of Choruses, Robert Porco.
David Robertson – conductor, artist, thinker, and American musical visionary – occupies some of the most prominent platforms on the international music scene. A highly sought-after podium figure in the worlds of opera, orchestral music, and new music, Robertson is celebrated worldwide as a champion of contemporary composers, an ingenious and adventurous programmer, and a masterful communicator whose passionate advocacy for the art form is widely recognized. A consummate and deeply collaborative musician, Robertson is hailed for his intensely committed music making.
Following a Fall 2018 tour of European musical capitals with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Robertson kicks off his valedictory season as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director with the Orchestra, February – November 2019, navigating oceans of music from Australian composers to Australian premieres, including Christopher Rouse’s Bassoon Concerto, the presence of American musical compatriots Wynton Marsalis and John Adams, concert performances of Britten’s Peter Grimes, and show-stoppers, including Andre Previn and Tom Stoppard’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. As always, musical friends from around the world will join in – Australian oboist Diana Doherty, Lang Lang, Susan Graham, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and a wealth of others. Robertson will continue to conduct the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in future seasons as the city undertakes a major renovation of its beloved Sydney Opera House.
In the 2018-19 season, Robertson continues his rich collaboration with the New York Philharmonic, as part of Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s first festival for the Orchestra, The Art of Andriessen. He ventures north to conduct two Canadian Orchestras: the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and in the US, he conducts the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the Juilliard Orchestra, where he begins his tenure as Director of Conducting Studies, Distinguished Visiting Professor. Robertson will return to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, and to the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in Munich, the Czech Philharmonic in Prague, and Cadaques Orchestra in Spain.
David Robertson recently completed his transformative 13-year tenure as Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, where he solidified the orchestra’s status as one of the nation’s most enduring and innovative. For the SLSO, he established fruitful relationships with a wide spectrum of artists, and garnered a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for the Nonesuch release of John Adams’ City Noir.
Robertson has served in artistic leadership positions at musical institutions including the Orchestre National de Lyon, and, as a protégé of Pierre Boulez, the Ensemble InterContemporain, which he led on its first North American tour. At the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he served as Principal Guest Conductor. Robertson has served as a Perspectives Artist at Carnegie Hall, where he has conducted, among others, The Met Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He appears regularly in Europe with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and at the Berlin Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the BBC Proms, and the Musica Viva Festival in Munich.
In Spring 2018, Robertson built upon his longstanding relationship with The Metropolitan Opera, conducting the premiere of Phelim McDermott’s celebrated production of Così fan tutte, set in 1950s Coney Island. Since his Met Opera debut in 1996, with The Makropulos Case, he has conducted a breathtaking range of Met projects, including the Met premiere of John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer (2014); the 2016 revival of Janáček’s Jenůfa, then its first Met performances in nearly a decade; the premiere production of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys (2013); and many favorites, from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro to Britten’s Billy Budd. Robertson has frequent projects at the world’s most prestigious opera houses, including La Scala, Théâtre du Châtelet, Bayerische Staatsoper (orchestra), the San Francisco Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera.
Robertson is the recipient of numerous musical and artistic awards, and in 2010 was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France. He is devoted to supporting young musicians and has worked with students at the festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood, Lucerne, at the Paris Conservatoire, the Juilliard School, Music Academy of the West, and the National Orchestra Institute. In 2014, he led the Coast to Coast tour of Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA.
Born in Santa Monica, California, Robertson was educated at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he studied horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting. He is married to pianist Orli Shaham, and lives in New York.
Recognized for her beautiful timbre and stunning stage presence, soprano Angel Blue's voice has been hailed for its shining, agile upper register and "smoky" middle register. A regular BBC Proms presenter who is equally at home on the concert or operatic stage, Angel is quickly establishing herself as one of the best singers in her generation, having performed in over 35 countries in the last 6 years.
A naturally gifted singer noted for her commanding stage presence and profound artistry, Jennifer Johnson Cano has garnered critical acclaim. During the 2018-2019 season, she returns to The Metropolitan Opera as Emilia in Otello and Meg Page in Falstaff and makes her role debut as Offred in Poul Ruders’s The Handmaid’s Tale with Boston Lyric Opera.Ms. Cano’s orchestral engagements include Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Symphonies. A dedicated recitalist and chamber musician, she joins tenor Matthew Polenzani and pianist Julius Drake at Carnegie Hall for an evening of Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms and Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared. She will return to Chamber Music of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall for a performance of Ravel's Sheherazade and Falla's Psyche. Ms. Cano will also be part of two world premiere performances this season; Paul Moravec’s A New Country and Gregg Kallor’s Sketches from Frankenstein Suite.
Ms. Cano has given over 100 performances at The Metropolitan Opera, with recent roles including Bersi, Emilia, Hansel, Meg Page, Mercedes, Nicklausse, Wellgunde and Waltraute. Other operatic appearances have included Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Boston Lyric and Arizona Operas, The Sharp Eared Fox in Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen with the Cleveland Orchestra, Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen with Boston Lyric Opera, Orphée in Orphée et Eurydice with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Des Moines Metro Opera, Diana in La Calisto with Cincinnati Opera, and Marguerite in Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with the Tucson Symphony. She has recently worked with an impressive array of conductors, such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Franz Welser-Möst, Gustavo Dudamel, Manfred Honeck, Marin Alsop, Robert Spano, Louis Langrée, Osmo Vänskä and Sir Andrew Davis. Ms. Cano made her European debut on tour with John Adams’s El Niño including performances in London and Paris with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mr. Adams, and The Radio Filharmonisch Orkest conducted by Markus Stenz at The Royal Concertgebouw. Additionally, she performed this work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Grant Gershon.
In addition to her continued relationship with The Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra, Ms. Cano has appeared with such esteemed orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego and Utah Symphonies and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. She toured with Musicians from Marlboro singing Respighi's Il Tramonto and Cuckson's Der gayst funem shturem, recorded live for the Marlboro Recording Society. A live recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde featured conductor George Manahan, tenor Paul Groves and St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble in a rare arrangement by Arnold Schoenberg and Rainer Riehn. At the invitation of Mrs. Carol Armstrong, Jennifer Johnson Cano was particularly honored to sing the Anderson/Weill September Song at the private funeral for American icon and astronaut Neil Armstrong. In 2014, she released her debut recital recording with pianist Christopher Cano, Unaffected: Live from the Savannah Voice Festival, recorded completely live and unedited. Her most recent recording of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1: Jeremiahwith Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Naxos received high praise from critics. “Jennifer Johnson Cano brings depth of tone and a noble resolve to the concluding Lamentation and just for once Lenny’s cathartic pay-off is deafeningly quiet.” (Gramophone)
Ms. Cano is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and made her professional operatic debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She has earned degrees from Webster University and Rice University and was honored as a distinguished alumna and commencement speaker at Webster University last May. Ms. Cano joined The Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera after winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition, and made her Met debut during the 2009-2010 season. Among her honors are a First Prize winner of the Young Concert Artist International Auditions, Sara Tucker Study Grant, Richard Tucker Career Grant and George London Award. www.jenniferjohnsoncano.net
“Her voice seems to come out of a happy nexus of heart, soul and brain that lends an authoritative weight to every note.” —The New York Times
Rodrick Dixon possesses a tenor voice of extraordinary range and versatility that has earned him the respect and attention of leading conductors, orchestras, and opera companies throughout North America.
The 2018-2019 season includes debuts with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale RAI as Erik in Der Fliegender Hollander conducted by James Conlon; tenor soloist with Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo conducted by Marin Alsop; and Charleston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ken Lam. He returns to Cincinnati Symphony in the Beethoven 9th Symphony with Louis Langree; and sings the role of the Shaman in the premiere of Healing Tones composed by Hannibal Lokumbe, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Sguin of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He recently made his St. Louis Symphony Orchestra debut in Der Fliegende Hollander as Erik under the baton of David Robertson. Other notable opera credits include Los Angeles Opera in the title role of Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg filmed to DVD and Walther von der Vogelweide in Tannhauser, additional credits include Michigan Opera Theater, Todi Music Festival production of La Fille Du Regiment as Tonio: Todi Music Festival production of Eugene Onegin as Lenski; Portland Opera in the title role of Les Contes d’Hoffmann: Cincinnati Opera as the Duke in Rigoletto: and Opera Southwest in the Virginia Opera tour of Porgy & Bess throughout Virginia.
On the concert stage, he is a regular guest of the Cincinnati May Festival, where he has performed Orff’s Carmina Burana, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, Rossini’s Stabat Mater; Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses in Cincinnati and in New York’s Carnegie Hall. He made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in the title role of Der Zwerg conducted by James Conlon and tenor soloist for the world premiere of Hannibal Lokumbe’s world premiere of One Land, One River, One People conducted by Yannick Séguin. For the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Sydney Arts Festival in Australia he played the title role of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Peter Sellars. Mr. Dixon made his Ravinia Festival debut singing Rossini Arias under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach; The Bells and Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied under the baton of maestro Conlon. He appeared for the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Center as Sportin’ Life in Bennett’s suite of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess; Atlanta Symphony Martin Luther King Celebration conducted by Robert Spano; Vail Music Festival in Beethoven’s Symphony No.9; and Bernstein program conducted by Marin Alsop. Mr. Dixon filmed, recorded and concertized works by composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with the Longfellow Chorus. Other notable credits include: the Choral Arts Society of Music as the Celebrant in Bernstein’s Mass at the Kennedy Center, a return to Carnegie Hall to debut with the American Symphony Orchestra in Frederick Delius’ A Mass of Life and to the Cincinnati May Festival as featured soloist in a new work by Alvin Singleton. Rodrick Dixon appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, under the baton of Stéphane Denève; performed Loge in Trilogy Opera’s Das Reingold; Odinga in Kenyatta; and performed in Hannibal Lokumbe’s world premiere of Crucifixion Resurrection at Mother Bethel AME Church, commissioned by Philadelphia Orchestra.
A gifted recitalist, Mr. Dixon earned rave reviews for his Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert broadcast, honoring Roland Hayes on WFMT-FM/Chicago. He has also presented pre-concert recitals at the Cincinnati May Festival for multiple years; he completed a 30 city tour for Community Concerts and a duet concert “Following in the Footsteps” at Hampton University with wife Soprano Alfreda Burke, with whom he has also appeared in duet recitals for the Umbria Music Festival in Italy. The couple performed and participated in the Mandla Mandela and Miss World delegation Rise Against Hunger campaign, honoring the legacy of President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Dixon’s notable concerts with tenors Victor Cook and Thomas Young include: Kodak Theatre with Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin’s dedication concert renaming a Detroit Park after her father Pastor C.L. Franklin, the Atlanta Symphony, LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl with the Irish Tenors, Cincinnati Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Millennium Park, Elgin Symphony, Rackham Symphony Chorus and the Concordia Orchestra at Lincoln Center.
Praised for his “nobility and rich tone,” (The New York Times) and his “enormous, thrilling voice seemingly capable … [of] raising the dead;” (Wall Street Journal), bass-baritone Dashon Burton has established a world-wide career in opera, recital, and in many works with orchestra. In key elements of his repertoire — Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions and the B minor Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven 9, the Brahms Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Mozart’s Requiem – Dashon is a frequent guest with ensembles such as Philharmonia Baroque, the Handel and Haydn Society, and Boston Baroque; the Carmel and Bethlehem Bach Choir Festivals, and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New Jersey, Oregon, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He is a regular guest with the Cleveland orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst, appearing there in the Brahms and Mozart Requiems, the groundbreaking animated production of Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen and, most recently, at home and on tour in Europe and Japan in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. In June, he opened the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago’s Millenium Park singing Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.
Forays into more varied repertoire have included his performances of Michael Tippet’s A Child of our Time at Harvard, Barber’s Dover Beach and Hans Eisler’s Ernste Gesaenge with A Far Cry chamber orchestra in Boston, Copland’s Old American Songs with the Kansas City Symphony, Schubert’s Die Winterreise with string quartet, and performances and recording of Craig Hella Johnson’s Considering Matthew Shepard with the vocal group Conspirare. Last season, he premiered Paul Moravec’s new oratorio, Sanctuary Road,at Carnegie Hall and performed David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Dashon’s 2018/19 season begins with his debut at the Salzburg Festival in Salomé. He sings Beethoven 9 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and with the Cincinnati Symphony, Dvoark’s Stabat Mater with the Houston Symphony, Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” et al. with Philharmonia Baroque, the c minor Mass with the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the Requiem with the Bethlehem Bach Festival and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He sings also Haydn’s “Creation” and the role of Zebul in Handel’s Jeptha”, the Verdi Requiem, Moussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death,” and returns to the Cleveland Orchestra for a subscription week of Schubert’s Mass in E flat Major in May. December finds him performing with the contemporary vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, of which Dashon is an original member, at Paris’Théatre de la Ville in Peter Sellars’ production of Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus, un ritual de mort.
Burton returns to Trinity Wall St. for a Baroque recital this season. For his other recitals in Boston and San Francisco, the program is based on his recording Songs of Struggle and Redemption: We Shall Overcome, singled out by the New York Times as “profoundly moving…a beautiful and lovable disc” in its May 2016 Classical Play list.
Burton’s opera engagements include singing Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte in Dijon and Paris, and the role of Jupiter in Rameau’s Castor and Pollux with Christoph Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques. He has toured Europe in the St. John Passion with Christoph Prégardien’s Le Concert Lorraine, and in Italy with Maasaki Suzuki and the Yale Schola Cantorum in the St. Matthew Passion, a work he also sang on tour in the Netherlands with the NNSO.
Dashon has won prizes from the ARD international Music Competition and the International Vocal Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and from the Oratorio Society of New York and the Bach Choir of Bethlehem’s Competition for Young American Singers. He graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and received his Master of Music degree from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which also performs as the Cincinnati Pops, is one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles. With a determination for greatness and a rich tradition that dates back over 120 years, the internationally acclaimed CSO attracts the best musicians, artists and conductors from around the world to Cincinnati. With new commissions and groundbreaking initiatives like LUMENOCITY®, One City, One Symphony, and the MusicNOW Festival collaboration, the Orchestra is committed to being a place of experimentation.
Louis Langrée began his tenure as the CSO's 13th Music Director in the 2013-2014 season with a celebrated program The New York Times said “deftly combined nods to the orchestra's history, the city's musical life and new music.” Over the Orchestra's 120-year history, it has also been led by Leopold Stokowski, Eugène Ysaÿe, Fritz Reiner, Eugene Goossens, Max Rudolf, Thomas Schippers, Jesús López-Cobos, and Paavo Järvi, among others.
A champion of new music, the Orchestra has given American premieres of works by such composers as Debussy, Ravel, Mahler and Bartók and has commissioned works that have since become mainstays of the classical repertoire, including Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. The CSO was the first orchestra to be broadcast to a national radio audience (1921) and the third to record (1917). The Orchestra continues to commission new works and to program an impressive array of music. In recent years, the CSO has performed the world premieres of Nico Muhly's Pleasure Ground, David Lang's mountain, Caroline Shaw's Lo and Daniel Bjarnason's Collider as part of the groundbreaking collaboration with the MusicNOW Festival, Cincinnati's premier new music festival, as well as the world premiere of André Previn's Double Concerto. More recent commissions include Gunther Schuller’s Symphonic Triptych, three works set to the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou by T. J. Cole, Jonathan Bailey Holland and Kristin Kuster, as well three new concertos for orchestra by composers Sebastian Currier, Thierry Escaich and Zhou Tian, which will be released on a commercial recording in November of 2016.
The CSO was the first American orchestra to make a world tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and continues to tour domestically and internationally, most recently to Europe in 2008 and to Japan in 2009, including two concerts at Tokyo's Suntory Hall and the CSO's first-ever nationally televised concert in Japan. The CSO has performed at New York's Carnegie Hall 48 times since its debut there in 191, most recently to rave reviews in May of 2014. In January of 2016, the Orchestra performed at New York’s Lincoln Center as part of the invitational Great Performers series.
SAT JAN 26, 8 pm • SUN JAN 27, 2 pm
DAVID ROBERTSON conductor • NICOLE CABELL soprano • KELLEY O’CONNOR mezzo-soprano • NICHOLAS PHAN tenor • ERIC GREENE baritone • MAY FESTIVAL CHORUS Robert Porco, director
Rituel: in memoriam Bruno Maderna
Requiem Mass in D Minor, K. 626
Requiem: Adagio (Chorus and Soprano)— Kyrie: Allegro (Chorus)Dies irae: Allegro assai (Chorus)Tuba mirum: Andante (Soloists)Rex tremendae: Grave (Chorus)Recordare (Soloists)Confutatis: Andante (Chorus)Lacrymosa (Chorus)Domine Jesu: Andante con moto (Chorus and Soloists)Hostias: Andante (Chorus)Sanctus: Adagio (Chorus)—Osanna: Allegro (Chorus)Benedictus: Andante (Soloists)—Osanna: Allegro (Chorus)Agnus Dei (Chorus)—Lux aeterna: Adagio (Soprano and Chorus)—Cum sanctis: Allegro (Chorus)
THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT MOZART’S extensive body of work is the result of genius, but his Requiem is also a particularly personal expression of transcendent beauty. We are thrilled to welcome American conductor David Robertson to lead these concerts with the May Festival Chorus and a wonderful group of soloists. As his successor at the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and someone who had a close personal relationship with Pierre Boulez, David Robertson is an ideal interpreter of Boulez’s Rituel: in memoriam Bruno Maderna, which will, through its intimate complexity, beautifully expand the way we hear Mozart’s Requiem. An unforgettable ritual of transformation. —LOUIS LANGRÉE
Born: March 26, 1925, Montbrison, Loire, France
Died: January 5, 2016, Baden-Baden, Germany
Work composed: 1974–1975
Premiere: April 2, 1975 in London by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Boulez conducting
Instrumentation: 3 flutes (incl. alto flute), alto flute, 3 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, 4 bassoons, 6 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 bongo drums, 2 castanets, Chinese cymbals, 2 claves, congas, 4 cowbells, 8 gongs, 3 guiro, 2 hand drums, 2 Japanese bells, 2 Japanese wood blocks, log drum, 3 maracas, 2 sizzle cymbals, 4 snare drums, 2 tabla, 7 tam-tams, tambour de basque, 2 temple blocks, 2 tom-toms, 2 triangles, 2 Turkish cymbals, 2 wood blocks, strings
CSO notable performances: One previous subscription weekend: December 1984, Michael Gielen conducting.
Duration: approx. 25 minutes
Bruno Maderna was a pivotal figure in mid-20th-century music. Born in Venice in 1920, Maderna was introduced to music at age four by his parents and his grandfather, who assured him that “if you play the violin you are always sure of a place in heaven.” Though he was orphaned soon thereafter, little Bruno showed prodigious talent and by age seven he was performing the Bruch G minor Violin Concerto in public and conducting the La Scala Orchestra. He was adopted by a wealthy woman in Verona and given a solid music education, and entered the Rome Conservatory when he was twelve. He returned to Venice in 1940 to study composition with Gian Francesco Malipiero, who became a mentor and a lasting influence, and conducting with Antonio Guarnieri in Siena. After World War II, Maderna was introduced to Viennese twelve-tone music by German conductor Hermann Scherchen, taught at the Venice Conservatory, and integrated himself into the European contemporary music scene, most notably at the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt. He started to conduct across Europe in 1950 and five years later helped found the pioneering Studio di fonologia musicale in Milan, one of the first dedicated electronic music facilities anywhere. During the following decade he taught at the Milan Conservatory, lectured at the Dartington Summer School (a focal point of contemporary composition in England), and co-directed the Kranichsteiner Chamber Ensemble in Darmstadt (which gave many of the performances for the Darmstadt Summer Courses) with Pierre Boulez. Maderna spent much of the 1960s in the United States conducting, teaching and directing new music activities at Tanglewood. He was named Principal Conductor of the RAI Symphony Orchestra in Milan in 1972, but died of cancer the following year.
Maderna and Pierre Boulez became, perhaps inevitably, close friends and valued colleagues. They first met in the early 1950s at the Darmstadt Summer Courses, where they also encountered Messiaen, Cage, Nono, Stockhausen and others who were reshaping concert music after World War II. Maderna recorded Boulez’s Polyphonie X with the RAI Symphony in 1953, Le Marteau sans Maître (“The Hammer without a Master”) in 1961, and Figures–Doubles–Prismes in 1968, and in 1958 they each led one of the three orchestras in the premiere of Stockhausen’s Gruppen in Cologne; Stockhausen directed the third. Maderna made his conducting debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1959 (leading Schoenberg’s Op. 22 Songs, Stravinsky’s Les Noces and symphonic extracts from Berg’s Lulu), later recorded works by Bartók, Mahler, Ravel and Schoenberg with them, and was a regular guest with the BBCSO when Boulez was the ensemble’s Principal Conductor from 1971 to 1975; Maderna also appeared with the New York Philharmonic when Boulez was Music Director there from 1971 to 1977.
After Maderna’s death, in November 1973, Boulez wrote:
Our careers were parallel. We began in Germany, then followed each other to Great Britain and, finally, we found ourselves in the United States. In 1958, we conducted the first performance of Stockhausen’s Gruppen together. Later, we alternated on the podium of the Orchestra of the Residence in The Hague.… In the pioneering days, when Wolfgang Steinecke had founded the Darmstadt ensemble, we shared the innumerable premieres that were to be given throughout the summer. The rehearsal schedule was a nightmare. Bruno didn’t worry about it too much, even taking the liberty to arrive late sometimes. He looked at the good side of life and always pulled through […] Maderna was pragmatic, as close to conducting music as he was to composing it.
On a commission from the BBC, Boulez composed a work in Maderna’s memory in 1974–1975, and led the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the premiere of the Rituel: in memoriam Bruno Maderna on April 2, 1975; they recorded the work for CBS the following April. Boulez suggested the composition’s formal and expressive essence in a brief lineated preface to the score:
Perpetual alternation:Litany for animaginary ceremonial.Ceremonial of remembrance—whence these recurrent patterns, changing in profile and perspective.Ceremonial of death, ritualof the ephemeral and the eternal:thus the images engravedon the musical memory—present/absent, in uncertainty.
Boulez’s memorial work is not just a ritual in title but is almost hieratic in its form, content and attitude. Like some priestly ceremonial, its layout suggests an extended call-and-response, an alternation between celebrant and congregation, a practice dating to the Medieval church performance method of trading Psalm verses between priest and choir. Rituel comprises 15 such alternating sections, each growing longer as the work proceeds; the last one occupies about a third of the entire piece. The “priestly calls” are constructed from sustained cloud-chords of soft, floating, luminous dissonance, each preceded by a gong stroke and punctuated at the end by a few quick notes; the oboe is the leader in the early calls. The “congregational responses” are more fluid in rhythm, complex in texture, and always accompanied by a steady pulse in the percussion, perhaps hinting at a ticking-clock passing of time. The first call has just one chord, the second two, the third three, and so forth. The orchestra is divided into eight spatially separated groups, each with a different instrumentation, all supported by a huge, multi-hued percussion section requiring nine players. The different groups are successively gathered up until they all play in the central section and then successively released, creating a dynamic arch that peaks and regresses across Rituel’s 27 minutes. The music is solemn throughout and remarkably moving despite (or, perhaps, because of) the interlocking intricacies of its structure. None of this is to imply that Rituel is at all dogmatic or specifically religious, but rather that it adapts one time-honored manner of confronting the inevitable loss and grief of death in a way that honors a gifted man who would have understood its message and recognized that such music is vital to renewing the belief in our common humanity.
—Dr. Richard E. Rodda
Born: January 27, 1756, Salzburg
Died: December 5, 1791, Vienna
Work composed: 1791
Premiere: December 14, 1793, Vienna
Instrumentation: SATB soloists, SATB chorus, 2 clarinets (basset horns), 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, organ, strings
CSO notable performances: Three previous CSO subscription weekends (Süssmayr edition) | Premiere: December 1973, Robert Shaw conducting | Most recent: October 2000, Robert Porco conducting | The work has also been performed several times on May Festival concerts, including its 1882 May Festival premiere under Theodore Thomas.
Duration: approx. 55 minutes
In early July 1791, while he was busy composing The Magic Flute, Mozart received a letter testifying to the glories of his music and alerting him that he would be having a visitor with a proposal on the following day. The letter was unsigned. The visitor, “an unknown, grey stranger,” according to Mozart, appeared on schedule and said that he represented the writer of the letter, who wanted to commission a new piece—a Requiem Mass—but added the curious provision that Mozart not try to discover the patron’s identity. Despite the somewhat foreboding mystery surrounding this venture, Mozart was in serious financial straits just then and the money offered was generous, so he accepted the commission and promised to begin as soon as possible. The Magic Flute, however, was pressing, and he also received at the same time another commission, one too important to ignore, for an opera to celebrate the September coronation in Prague of Emperor Leopold as King of Bohemia—La Clemenza di Tito, based on one of Metastasio’s old librettos—that demanded immediate attention. As if those duties were not enough to fill his thoughts, Mozart’s wife, Constanze, was due to deliver another baby at the end of the month. She had been in the local spa town of Baden since the beginning of June, trying to preserve what little health she had left after nine years of almost constant pregnancy since her marriage to Wolfgang in 1782, and Mozart went to bring her back to the city and to her doctors in mid-July. Just as he was entering the carriage for the trip, the “unknown, grey stranger” approached him, inquired about the progress of the Requiem, was told that it was going well, and left, apparently satisfied. On July 25th, Constanze gave birth to Franz Xaver Wolfgang, who became a composer and music teacher.
Mozart worked on the Requiem as time allowed. From mid-August until mid-September, he, Constanze and his pupil Franz Süssmayr, who composed the recitatives for Tito, were in Prague for the opera’s premiere. When they returned to Vienna, Schickaneder pressed Mozart to put the final touches on The Magic Flute, which was first staged on September 30th. Mozart’s health had deteriorated alarmingly by October—he complained of swelling limbs, feverishness, pains in his joints and severe headaches. On November 17th, with the Requiem far from finished, he took to his bed and was treated by Dr. Thomas Closset, one of Vienna’s best physicians, with the prescribed remedy for what was diagnosed as “miliary fever” (perhaps rheumatic fever or uraemia, though the evidence is inconclusive)—cold compresses and unremitting bleeding. Mozart became obsessed with the Requiem, referring to it as his “swan-song,” convinced that he was writing the music for his own funeral:
I cannot remove from my mind the image of the stranger. I see him continually. He begs me, exhorts me, and then commands me to work. I continue, because composition fatigues me less than rest. Moreover, I have nothing more to fear. I know from what I feel that the hour is striking; I am on the point of death; I have finished before I could enjoy my talent.... I thus must finish my funeral song, which I must not leave incomplete.
Mozart managed to finish only the Requiem and Kyrie sections of the work, but sketched the voice parts and the bass and gave indications for scoring for the Dies irae through the Hostias. On December 4th, he scrawled a few measures of the Lacrymosa, and then asked three friends who had come to be with him to sing what he had just written. He tried to carry the alto part, but broke into tears as soon as they had begun, and collapsed. A priest was called to administer extreme unction; at midnight Mozart bid his family farewell and turned toward the wall; at five minutes to one on the morning of December 5, 1791, he died, six weeks shy of his 36th birthday. He never knew for whom he had written the Requiem.
Constanze, worried that she might lose the commission fee, asked Joseph Eybler, a student of Haydn and a friend of her late husband, to complete the score. He filled in the instrumentation Mozart had indicated for the middle movements of the piece, but became stuck where the music broke off in the Lacrymosa. Franz Süssmayr, to whom Mozart had given detailed instructions about finishing the work, took up the task, revising Eybler’s orchestration and supplying music for the last three movements. Süssmayr recopied the score so that the manuscript would show one rather than three hands, and it was collected by the stranger, who paid the remaining commission fee.
The person who commissioned Mozart’s Requiem was Count Franz von Walsegg, a nobleman of musical aspirations who had the odious habit of anonymously ordering music from established composers and then passing it off as his own. This Requiem was to commemorate Walsegg’s wife, Anna, who died on February 14, 1791. The “grey stranger” was Walsegg’s valet, Anton Leitgeb, the son of the mayor of Vienna. Even after Mozart’s death, Walsegg went ahead with a performance of the Requiem, which was given at the Neukloster in the suburb of Wiener-Neustadt on December 14, 1793; the title page bore the legend, Requiem composto del Conte Walsegg. A few years later, when Constanze was trying to have her late husband’s works published, she implored Walsegg to disclose the Requiem’s true author. He did, and the score was first issued in 1802 by Breitkopf und Härtel.
Buried away in Otto Erich Deutsch’s Mozart: A Documentary Biography is a fascinating but little-known tidbit of information that may (or may not) have been a factor in Walsegg’s commission. One of Mozart’s brothers in Freemasonry was Michael Puchberg, who earned many fond footnotes in the composer’s biography for his generous financial support to the composer (Mozart euphemistically called these emoluments “loans”) during Wolfgang’s last years. Puchberg lived and managed a textile firm at Hoher Markt 522. That address, it seems, just happened to be located in the Viennese house of Franz von Walsegg, and it is certainly not impossible that Puchberg encouraged Walsegg, in his curious way, to help Mozart in his time of distress.
It is difficult, and perhaps not even advisable, to dissociate Mozart’s Requiem from the circumstances of its composition—the work bears the ineradicable stamp of otherworldliness. In its sublimities and its sulfur, it appealed mightily to the Romantic sensibility of the 19th century, and continues to have a hold on the imagination of listeners matched by few other musical compositions. (Perhaps it is significant that the Requiem is performed annually in Vienna for the Feast of All Saints, the day after Halloween.) Manifold beauties of varied and moving expression abound throughout the Requiem: the ethereal strains of the Recordare; the vehemence of the Confutatis; the bitter plangency of the Lacrymosa; the old-fashioned, Bachian profundity of the fugal Kyrie; the feigned joy, so quickly terminated, of the Hosanna. The words of Lili Kraus, the Hungarian pianist closely associated throughout her career with the music of Mozart, apply with special poignancy to the wondrous Requiem: “There is no feeling—human or cosmic, no depth, no height the human spirit can reach—that is not contained in his music.”