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Cutting Hall,
Palatine IL
3:30pm

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7:00pm

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Altergott Auditorium at Palatine High School,
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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cutting Hall,
Palatine IL
3:30pm

program notes > F > Festive Overture

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Festive Overture

Dmitri Shostakovich, Opus 96/trans. Donald Hunsberger

 

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) was a prominent Russian composer. A child prodigy, he studied at the Petrograd Conservatory under Glazunov and gained international fame at an early age. He had a complex relationship with the government, suffering criticism and official denunciation for “bourgeois decadence” and “anti-democratic tendencies” yet receiving acclaim as the most popular Soviet composer of his generation. He chafed under the constraints of the political system but later in life joined the Communist Party and served in the Supreme Soviet.

Program note by Paul Schiavo:

Dmitri Shostakovich was surely the most versatile of the 20th century’s major composers. Heroic symphonies, acerbic modern operas, Bach- inspired counterpoint in a neo-classical style, light film and theater music, brooding string quartets—all these and more flowed from his pen with apparently equal ease. His stylistic fluency was matched by an extraordi- nary compositional facility, as the genesis of his Festive Overture attests.

The composer agreed to fashion the needed music at once and invited a vis- iting friend to sit and keep him company. “Then he starting composing,” this companion remembered. “The speed at which he wrote was truly astound- ing. Moreover, when he wrote light music, he was able to talk, make jokes, and compose simultaneously, like the legendary Mozart.” In a matter of hours the score was ready. “Two days later, the dress rehearsal took place,” recalled the friend who had watched Shostakovich write the piece. “I hur- ried down to the theater and heard this brilliant, effervescent work, with its vivacious energy spilling over like uncorked champagne.” 

One day, in the autumn of 1954, the composer received an unexpected visit at his Moscow apartment from Vasily Nebol’sin, an official at the Bolshoi Theater. A concert scheduled to take place in a few days’ time coincided with the anniversary of the October Revolution, in which Lenin’s Bolshevik Party seized control of Russia’s government in 1917. Such Communist anniversaries were customarily observed at the Bolshoi with the perform- ance of a new musical work, something in a vein of celebration. But unac- countably, nothing had been arranged for the approaching concert. Nebol’sin therefore appealed, somewhat desperately, to Shostakovich.

The composer agreed to fashion the needed music at once and invited a visiting friend to sit and keep him company. “Then he starting composing,” this companion remembered. “The speed at which he wrote was truly astounding. Moreover, when he wrote light music, he was able to talk, make jokes, and compose simultaneously, like the legendary Mozart.” In a matter of hours the score was ready. “Two days later, the dress rehearsal took place,” recalled the friend who had watched Shostakovich write the piece. “I hurried down to the theater and heard this brilliant, effervescent work, with its vivacious energy spilling over like uncorked champagne.” 

Last updated on March 25, 2014 by Palatine Concert Band