program notes by composition > S > Slava!


Leonard Bernstein/trans. Clare Grundman

Slava! When prominent Soviet cellist and conductor Mstislav “Slava” Rostropovich invited his friend Leonard Bernstein to help launch his inaugural concert as Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra, he also asked him to write a rousing opening piece for the festivities. Thets world premiere took place in 1977 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Slava! is filled with joyous tunes and contrasts. Theme one is a vaudevillian razz-ma-tazz with slide-slipping modulations and glissing trombones. Theme two, which features the electric guitar, is a canon in 7/8 time. Near the end, the ubiquitous trombones quote from the ‘Coronation Scene’ of Mussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov where the chorus sings “slava!” (“glory!”), paying homage to Rostropovich, to whom the work is fondly dedicated.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was an iconic American musician who achieved fame as a pianist, composer, educator and conductor. He was long associated with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he made over half of his more than 400 recordings. His compositions include operas, ballets, masses, jazz, concertos, musicals ( West Side Story ), movie music and symphonies. He achieved broad popularity with concert and lecture series in the new medium of television, starting with Omnibus in 1954, and followed by the extraordinary Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic .

Last updated on July 26, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band