Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Who designs the concert schedule and chooses what to pair with what, and why?

Tonight's Afterworks included Mendelssohn (the "Scottish" Symphony, Opus 56, composed 1829-1842) and Purcell (Dances from the Fairy Queen, Composed 1692).

Tom Allen spoke about how Purcell started working at 8 years of age and never turned down a job, learning the value of money after the family lost everything in the Great Fire of London. Organ repair, commissions... Never took a break or rested, until he came down with tuberculosis that forced him to take a few days off. He never recovered and died at 35.

Contrast that life with Felix Mendelssohn. Born into an extremely rich and intellectual family, he never needed to work a day in his life. By 20 he was in London presenting his Symphony One, following it up by playing a solo Beethoven concerto - without sheet music - something interpreted as showing off for the times. Mendelssohn's life ended at 38, when he died of a stroke, brokenhearted by the loss of his beloved sister. One of my favourites of his is the violin concerto in E minor.

Were the selections chosen because of the harmonies in the composers lives, or for their relative geography? Program notes don't really elaborate why these particular pieces were chosen to be placed with one another. Maybe these were the guest conductors choice, Michael Francis, visiting us from the London Symphony Orchestra. Although Felix was German, the Scottish symphony places him in the neighbourhood of Purcell, one of Britain's best-loved composers.

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