Olga Kern Program
The Olga Kern Program presents a piano performance of pieces by composers Clara Schumann(1819-1896), Robert Schumann(1810-1856), Alexander Scriabin(1872-1915) and Mily Balakirev(1837-1910).
The pieces Ms. Kern chose are as follows:
Clara Schumann: Variations on the Theme by Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann: Carnaval
Alexander Scriabin: 2 Etudes - op.42 #4 and #5
Mily Balakirev: Islamey
Following the Olga Kern Program please join our pianist at a reception presented by the Matinee Musicale Board of Directors.
PROGRAM NOTES for the Olga Kern Program:
Clara Schumann's Variations on a Theme was composed by her husband Robert Schumann written in 1854. She dedicated it to Robert.
She was born on September 13, 1819 in Leipzig and died May 20, 1896 in Frankfurt.
She said, "Composing gives me great pleasure...there is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound."
At that time she was not recognized as a composer in her own right. Some music she wrote was acknowledged as if it were written by her husband. "A woman must not wish to compose—there never was one able to do it." There were many difficulties facing women composers in the nineteenth century.
Robert Schumann's Carnaval is a work written in 1834-1835, and subtitled Scènes mignonnes sur quatre notes (Little Scenes on Four Notes). It consists of a collection of short pieces representing masked revelers at Carnival, a festival before Lent. Schumann gives musical expression to himself, his friends and colleagues, and characters from improvised Italian comedy (commedia dell’arte).
For Schumann the four notes were encoded puzzles, and he predicted that "deciphering my masked ball will be a real game for you." There is a repeating motif in the piece.
Carnaval had its origin in a set of variations on a Sehnsuchtswalzer by Franz Schubert, whose music Schumann had only discovered in 1827. The catalyst for writing the variations may have been a work for piano and orchestra in the form of variations on the same Schubert theme.
Scriabin's Etudes #4 and #5 are among the eight Etudes in his opus 42. Many of Scriabin's works are written for the piano. The earliest pieces resemble Frédéric Chopin's and include music in many forms that Chopin himself used, such as the étude, the prelude, the nocturne, and the mazurka.
Islamey by Balakirev was subtitled 'Oriental Fantasy'. It was written as a composition for piano in September 1869.
Balakirev was a committed nationalist whose music was influenced by Russian traditions. He was inspired to write the piece after a trip to the Caucasus, as he relates in a letter:
"...the majestic beauty of luxuriant nature there and the beauty of the inhabitants that harmonises with it – all these things together made a deep impression on me... Since I interested myself in the vocal music there, I made the acquaintance of a Circassian prince, who frequently came to me and played folk tunes on his instrument, that was something like a violin. One of them, called Islamey, a dance-tune, pleased me extraordinarily and with a view to the work I had in mind. Tamara and I began to arrange it for the piano. The second theme was communicated to me in Moscow by an Armenian actor, who came from the Crimea and is, as he assured me, well known among the Crimean Tatars" (Letter to Reis, 1892).
The Olga Kern Program of pieces was well chosen to show her fabulous pianistic technique and brilliant musicality.
Ms. Kern comes to us via
Columbia Artists Management LLC
Phone: (212) 841-9761, Fax: (212) 841-9517
New York, NY 10019-1412
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