From Baroque to Romantic: The Stylistic Challenge (Concert I) and "Degenerate Music" (Concert II)
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For my first Senior Concert, I wanted to challenge myself and stray away from my comfort zone. I have always loved and preferred playing chamber music and violin sonatas for violin and piano. However for my first senior concert, I did not want to include as much chamber music nor sonatas, but play pieces that I had to play as a soloist. Although, I tried my hardest to reach the level of a soloist, I felt like I knew the pieces, but I did not feel comfortable and mentally prepared yet to fully transform myself from a chamber musician to a soloist. Nonetheless, the pieces that I performed belonged to my childhood favorites. The first piece, Vivaldi Summer, is a marvelous piece that shows all the wonderful elements of baroque and classical style music. Although, it is one of the most famous classical pieces in the world, I loved trying to find my own interpretation a combination of original Baroque style with a Romantic tint. The players did a wonderful job, and it was amazing to be coached by Stephen Hammer who taught my accompanists and me a lot about Baroque playing. After the Vivaldi, I played Handel‐Halvorsen’s duet for violin and cello. Originally, this piece was composed for harpsichord by Handel, and Halvorsen altered the original concerto to a virtuosic duet. The interplay between the cello and violin is just gorgeous and the different variations create an exciting atmosphere for the listener. My third piece was Liebesleid by Fritz Kreisler. This piece was a great break for the audience after all the virtuosity in the previous two pieces. I have always enjoyed playing this piece and I loved performing it on my concert. After Kreisler’s calming piece, I decided to save the hardest piece for last, Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. This piece exhibits gypsy influences with a romantic emphasis. The gypsy element was great to play, and it definitely challenged me technically. All the different aspect from left hand pizzicato and the fast spicatto were challenging but exciting to tackle. In the end, this concert was a challenge to shift from Baroque to Gypsy style, but it was a great musical experience. I learned to focus my future practicing on being more meticulous about the metronome, because rhythmic stability would have soothed my brain and I would probably had more of a comfortable feeling, while playing the pieces the pieces and it would have simplified the shift from a chamber musician to a soloist. “Degenerate Music” (Concert II) My Second Concert is completely different in comparison to my first. My other major is Art History and for this project, I decided to study and examine artists that were denounced “degenerate” during the Nazi era. Degenerates were people who would not align with Hitler’s view or ideology, and as a result got censored during this period. However, Hitler did not only implement censor laws in the visual arts, but also in music. Consequently for this concert, I wanted to give a concert related to this theme. The composers, who were banned during the Nazi era, were the Jews, the modernist and music influenced by jazz. I decided to make a program that would illustrate this time period and dedicate it to their struggle. The first piece on my concert is the second movement from Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto In E minor. Of course, one might think, but Mendelssohn was already dead during the Nazi era. This is correct, and he was incredibly famous, but Felix Mendelssohn was a German Jewish composer and as a result got censored. It is a beautiful piece with inspiring phrases. After Mendelssohn’s second movement, I will play Schindler’s List by John Williams. I decided to include this piece in my concert, because many people visualize movie images when they think about the Hitler era. As a result, Schindler’s List, one of the most famous Holocaust movies, is a nice piece to include as a comparison to pieces that were actually banned. In addition, I think the simplicity of this piece is just mind‐blowing. My third and fourth pieces are two movements from the solo sonata by Nikolas Skalkottas. Skalkottas is relatively unknown composer after he got banned during the Nazi era. He was a modern composer; he used many dissonant and interesting scales. Skalkottas was student of Schoenberg. This piece is included in my concert, because of the fact that Skalkottas is almost never performed and I wanted to share his music with the Bard community. My fourth piece is a short piece by Erwin Schulhoff called Susi (Fox song). It is written for a solo instrument with piano, it is cute and jazzy. In addition, Schulhoff was also a composer that was censored during the Nazi era. He was a contemporary of Kurt Weill and although Kurt Weill is still widely performed Schulhoff is not, and thus a reason to include him in this concert. After Susi, I am playing three movements from the violin and cello sonata by Zoltan Kodaly. He was not officially banned during the Nazi era, but his modern influences included in this piece with the folk style made his piece dubious during this time period and he was never performed, but he was never officially announced degenerate. Furthermore, this piece illustrates a magnificent dialogue between the cello and violin and it is great to play. Lastly, I will be playing a song, called Bei Mir Mistu Sheyn, a beautiful originally Yiddish song, later performed by many famous musicians like the Andrews Sisters. Hitler actually liked this song, but after he heard that it had Yiddish roots, he decided to ban the song on the spot and it was not performed in Germany again. I love ending with this song, because it is beautiful and it nicely juxtaposes to all the other pieces included in my concert. Overall, I have learned more from these two concerts than during my entire Bard career. I challenged myself and I loved every minute of it. In addition, my second concert goes nicely with my Art History project, which creates a nice cohesive interdisciplinary senior year experience after looking at these two majors separate for the past four years.
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Goudsmit, Keziah, "From Baroque to Romantic: The Stylistic Challenge (Concert I) and "Degenerate Music" (Concert II)" (2012). Senior Projects Spring 2012. 175.
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