Christmas Countdown: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

 

nutcracker

A few years ago, we went to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

From http://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/N/George-Balanchine-s-The-Nutcracker.aspx

During the holiday period, the entire Company is immersed in activities surrounding George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. All 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet join forces to make each performance as magical as possible. Children of all ages from New York City and the nation fill the David H. Koch Theater to be captivated by the lure of Tschaikovsky’s music, Balanchine’s choreography, Karinska’s sumptuous costumes, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s magical sets. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, based on the Alexandre Dumas pere version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), demands a full-scale production.

The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 40 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance. Other notable feats include the comic figure of Mother Ginger — 85 pounds and nine feet wide, the costume requires handling by three people once it is lowered by pulley over the dancer’s head — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest, crystal-shaped snowflakes (which are swept up and conserved after each performance for reuse).

While these technical achievements are wonderful fun, it is Balanchine’s choreography that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeier and his Nephew — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory. The popularity of the ballet is immense and it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.

Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in North America. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.

Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular, the pieces featured in the suite.

 

 

May 14 in Music History

today
• 1885 ~ Otto Klemperer, German conductor, In his early career he championed modern works.

• 1916 ~ Skip (Lloyd) Martin, Bandleader, composer, arranger

• 1916 ~ Lance Dossor, British-born concert pianist

• 1917 ~ Norman Luboff, Choral leader, The Norman Luboff Choir

• 1925 ~ Patrice Munsel, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera diva at age 17; actress in The Great Waltz, Melba; radio performer: The Great Sopranos – Voices of Firestone Classic Performances; radio host: The Patrice Munsel Show

• 1925 ~ Al Porcino, Jazz musician, trumpet

• 1936 ~ Bobby Darin (Cassotto), Grammy Award-winning singer, inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990

• 1937 ~ Duke Ellington and his band recorded the classic, Caravan, for Brunswick Records.

• 1943 ~ Jack Bruce, Musician: bass with the group Cream

• 1943 ~ Derek Leckenby, Guitarist with Herman’s Hermits

• 1944 ~ Troy Shondell, Singer

• 1945 ~ Gene Cornish, Guitarist with The Young Rascals

• 1952 ~ David Byrne, American rock composer, singer, American rock composer, performance artist and movie director

• 1957 ~ The musical, New Girl in Town, opened at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City. Thelma Ritter and Gwen Verdon starred in the Broadway adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. New Girl in Town had a run of 431 performances.

1959 ~ “President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke ground for Lincoln Center at the site of Avery Fisher Hall, then named Philharmonic Hall. Musicians representing the Lincoln Center constituents participated: Leonard Bernstein led the New York Philharmonic and the Juilliard Chorus (Frederick Prausnitz, director), and Leonard Warren and Risë Stevens (Juilliard Graduate School ’36, voice), both of The Metropolitan Opera, performed excerpts from I Pagliacci and Carmen.” ~Jeni Dahmus, archivist at The Juilliard School

• 1971 ~ The Honey Cone received a gold record for the single, Want Ads. The female soul trio was formed in Los Angeles in 1969 and scored two million-sellers, Want Ads and Stick Up. The trio had a total of four songs on the charts that were moderate hits. Only Want Ads, however, made it to the number one position.

• 1971 ~ Danny Wood, Singer with New Kids on the Block

• 1998 ~ Frank Sinatra, one of the world’s greatest popular singers, died.

• 2001 ~ Loften Mitchell, a Tony Award-nominated playwright and early leader of the black theater movement, died at the age of 82. Mitchell was nominated for a Tony Award in 1976 for his book for the musical “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” a performance of black music and dance. He also wrote “A Land Beyond the River,” “Star of the Morning,” and the books “Voices of the Black Theater” and “Black Drama.” For many years he taught at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

• 2003 ~ Otto Edelmann, whose dark bass-baritone propelled him to some of the world’s most renowned opera stages over a career spanning more than four decades, died. He was 86. Edelmann was often associated with masterful performances as Ochs in “Der Rosenkavalier,” and Hans Sachs in “Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg.” With his powerful voice, Edelmann was a favorite choice for Wagnerian roles. Edelmann trained at the Vienna Music Academy, now the Vienna University for Music and Performing Arts, under coaches including Gunnar Graarud. After a 1937 debut as Figaro in Gera, Germany, he sang in Nuremberg until 1940, when he was drafted into Hitler’s army. Captured by the Soviets, he spent several years as a prisoner of war. Edelmann’s postwar debut at the Vienna State Opera, as the hermit in “Der Freischuetz” in 1947, was the first of a 36-year engagement in the Austrian capital that included 430 performances in 36 different roles. He also was a regular for decades at the Salzburg Festival and other annual music events across Europe. Edelmann later turned increasingly to teaching, and in 1982 was appointed singing professor at the Vienna Music Academy.

•  B.B. King, “the King of the Blues,” whose stinging guitar solos and husky, full-throated vocals made him an international music icon and the most commercially successful performer in blues history, died at the age of 89.

Christmas Music: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

nutcracker

A few years ago, we went to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

From http://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/N/George-Balanchine-s-The-Nutcracker.aspx

During the holiday period, the entire Company is immersed in activities surrounding George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. All 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet join forces to make each performance as magical as possible. Children of all ages from New York City and the nation fill the David H. Koch Theater to be captivated by the lure of Tschaikovsky’s music, Balanchine’s choreography, Karinska’s sumptuous costumes, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s magical sets. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, based on the Alexandre Dumas pere version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), demands a full-scale production.

The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 40 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance. Other notable feats include the comic figure of Mother Ginger — 85 pounds and nine feet wide, the costume requires handling by three people once it is lowered by pulley over the dancer’s head — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest, crystal-shaped snowflakes (which are swept up and conserved after each performance for reuse).

While these technical achievements are wonderful fun, it is Balanchine’s choreography that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeier and his Nephew — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory. The popularity of the ballet is immense and it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.

Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in North America. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.

Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular the pieces featured in the suite.

 

May 14 ~ This Day in Music History

mothers-day-38

• 1885 ~ Otto Klemperer, German conductor, In his early career he championed modern works.

• 1916 ~ Skip (Lloyd) Martin, Bandleader, composer, arranger

• 1917 ~ Norman Luboff, Choral leader, The Norman Luboff Choir

• 1925 ~ Patrice Munsel, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera diva at age 17; actress in The Great Waltz, Melba; radio performer: The Great Sopranos – Voices of Firestone Classic Performances; radio host: The Patrice Munsel Show

• 1925 ~ Al Porcino, Jazz musician, trumpet

• 1936 ~ Bobby Darin (Cassotto), Grammy Award-winning singer, inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990

• 1937 ~ Duke Ellington and his band recorded the classic, Caravan, for Brunswick Records.

• 1943 ~ Jack Bruce, Musician: bass with the group Cream

• 1943 ~ Derek Leckenby, Guitarist with Herman’s Hermits

• 1944 ~ Troy Shondell, Singer

• 1945 ~ Gene Cornish, Guitarist with The Young Rascals

• 1952 ~ David Byrne, American rock composer, singer, American rock composer, performance artist and movie director

• 1957 ~ The musical, New Girl in Town, opened at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City. Thelma Ritter and Gwen Verdon starred in the Broadway adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. New Girl in Town had a run of 431 performances.

1959 ~ “President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke ground for Lincoln Center at the site of Avery Fisher Hall, then named Philharmonic Hall. Musicians representing the Lincoln Center constituents participated: Leonard Bernstein led the New York Philharmonic and the Juilliard Chorus (Frederick Prausnitz, director), and Leonard Warren and Risë Stevens (Juilliard Graduate School ’36, voice), both of The Metropolitan Opera, performed excerpts from I Pagliacci and Carmen.” ~Jeni Dahmus, archivist at The Juilliard School

• 1971 ~ The Honey Cone received a gold record for the single, Want Ads. The female soul trio was formed in Los Angeles in 1969 and scored two million-sellers, Want Ads and Stick Up. The trio had a total of four songs on the charts that were moderate hits. Only Want Ads, however, made it to the number one position.

• 1971 ~ Danny Wood, Singer with New Kids on the Block

• 1998 ~ Frank Sinatra, one of the world’s greatest popular singers, died.

• 2001 ~ Loften Mitchell, a Tony Award-nominated playwright and early leader of the black theater movement, died at the age of 82. Mitchell was nominated for a Tony Award in 1976 for his book for the musical “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” a performance of black music and dance. He also wrote “A Land Beyond the River,” “Star of the Morning,” and the books “Voices of the Black Theater” and “Black Drama.” For many years he taught at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

• 2003 ~ Otto Edelmann, whose dark bass-baritone propelled him to some of the world’s most renowned opera stages over a career spanning more than four decades, died. He was 86. Edelmann was often associated with masterful performances as Ochs in “Der Rosenkavalier,” and Hans Sachs in “Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg.” With his powerful voice, Edelmann was a favorite choice for Wagnerian roles. Edelmann trained at the Vienna Music Academy, now the Vienna University for Music and Performing Arts, under coaches including Gunnar Graarud. After a 1937 debut as Figaro in Gera, Germany, he sang in Nuremberg until 1940, when he was drafted into Hitler’s army. Captured by the Soviets, he spent several years as a prisoner of war. Edelmann’s postwar debut at the Vienna State Opera, as the hermit in “Der Freischuetz” in 1947, was the first of a 36-year engagement in the Austrian capital that included 430 performances in 36 different roles. He also was a regular for decades at the Salzburg Festival and other annual music events across Europe. Edelmann later turned increasingly to teaching, and in 1982 was appointed singing professor at the Vienna Music Academy.

•  B.B. King, “the King of the Blues,” whose stinging guitar solos and husky, full-throated vocals made him an international music icon and the most commercially successful performer in blues history, died at the age of 89.

NYC All-Mozart Program

A repost from last year:

Tonight, we are going to Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York to hear an all-Mozart program including

Piano Concerto No. 21

Symphony No. 38, Prague

Piano Concerto No. 20

And from another post:

 

kahane

Here’s a review of the exact same performance that we attended last night!  The same program was performed on Wednesday.

Review from the New York Times: New York Philharmonic Gives Mozart His Due

As the festival continues to evolve in directions that have less and less to do with its namesake, the Philharmonic, perhaps sensing an opportunity, offers a Mozart program of its own this week: the “Prague” Symphony and the Piano Concertos No. 20, in D minor, and No. 21, in C, with Jeffrey Kahane as guest conductor and soloist.

The “Prague” must be every opera lover’s favorite Mozart symphony. Composed in Vienna in 1786 and evidently given its premiere in Prague early the next year, it is a virtual caldron of tunes more or less shared with “Le Nozze di Figaro” (1786) and “Don Giovanni” (1787).

More than that, the symphony, played before intermission, evokes the moods and characters of those operas, especially “Don Giovanni.” Mr. Kahane treated all of that a bit matter-of-factly at Wednesday evening’s performance, with little lingering to search out lascivious byplay in dark recesses or to limn a bumbling Leporello.

So it came as a delightful surprise, after intermission, when Mr. Kahane injected the condemnatory sequence of rising and falling scales from “Don Giovanni” into his own cadenza for the first movement of the D minor Concerto. His playing was deft and virtuosic in both concertos, though his fast tempos in the outer movements of the C major resulted in some blurred scalar passages and a slightly hectic feel at times.

You might have feared a certain weightiness from the Philharmonic in Mozart, but Mr. Kahane generally drew stylish playing from a reduced band of 40 or so. The strings had a pliant quality, and the woodwinds were especially fine.

My thoughts are included on this blog post: http://maryoblog.com/2015/06/07/saturday-june-6-2015-part-2/

May 14 in Music History

today

• 1885 ~ Otto Klemperer, German conductor, In his early career he championed modern works.

• 1916 ~ Skip (Lloyd) Martin, Bandleader, composer, arranger

• 1917 ~ Norman Luboff, Choral leader, The Norman Luboff Choir

• 1925 ~ Patrice Munsel, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera diva at age 17; actress in The Great Waltz, Melba; radio performer: The Great Sopranos – Voices of Firestone Classic Performances; radio host: The Patrice Munsel Show

• 1925 ~ Al Porcino, Jazz musician, trumpet

• 1936 ~ Bobby Darin (Cassotto), Grammy Award-winning singer, inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990

• 1937 ~ Duke Ellington and his band recorded the classic, Caravan, for Brunswick Records.

• 1943 ~ Jack Bruce, Musician: bass with the group Cream

• 1943 ~ Derek Leckenby, Guitarist with Herman’s Hermits

• 1944 ~ Troy Shondell, Singer

• 1945 ~ Gene Cornish, Guitarist with The Young Rascals

• 1952 ~ David Byrne, American rock composer, singer, American rock composer, performance artist and movie director

• 1957 ~ The musical, New Girl in Town, opened at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City. Thelma Ritter and Gwen Verdon starred in the Broadway adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. New Girl in Town had a run of 431 performances.

1959 ~ “President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke ground for Lincoln Center at the site of Avery Fisher Hall, then named Philharmonic Hall. Musicians representing the Lincoln Center constituents participated: Leonard Bernstein led the New York Philharmonic and the Juilliard Chorus (Frederick Prausnitz, director), and Leonard Warren and Risë Stevens (Juilliard Graduate School ’36, voice), both of The Metropolitan Opera, performed excerpts from I Pagliacci and Carmen.” ~Jeni Dahmus, archivist at The Juilliard School

• 1971 ~ The Honey Cone received a gold record for the single, Want Ads. The female soul trio was formed in Los Angeles in 1969 and scored two million-sellers, Want Ads and Stick Up. The trio had a total of four songs on the charts that were moderate hits. Only Want Ads, however, made it to the number one position.

• 1971 ~ Danny Wood, Singer with New Kids on the Block

• 1998 ~ Frank Sinatra, one of the world’s greatest popular singers, died.

• 2001 ~ Loften Mitchell, a Tony Award-nominated playwright and early leader of the black theater movement, died at the age of 82. Mitchell was nominated for a Tony Award in 1976 for his book for the musical “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” a performance of black music and dance. He also wrote “A Land Beyond the River,” “Star of the Morning,” and the books “Voices of the Black Theater” and “Black Drama.” For many years he taught at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

• 2003 ~ Otto Edelmann, whose dark bass-baritone propelled him to some of the world’s most renowned opera stages over a career spanning more than four decades, died. He was 86. Edelmann was often associated with masterful performances as Ochs in “Der Rosenkavalier,” and Hans Sachs in “Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg.” With his powerful voice, Edelmann was a favorite choice for Wagnerian roles. Edelmann trained at the Vienna Music Academy, now the Vienna University for Music and Performing Arts, under coaches including Gunnar Graarud. After a 1937 debut as Figaro in Gera, Germany, he sang in Nuremberg until 1940, when he was drafted into Hitler’s army. Captured by the Soviets, he spent several years as a prisoner of war. Edelmann’s postwar debut at the Vienna State Opera, as the hermit in “Der Freischuetz” in 1947, was the first of a 36-year engagement in the Austrian capital that included 430 performances in 36 different roles. He also was a regular for decades at the Salzburg Festival and other annual music events across Europe. Edelmann later turned increasingly to teaching, and in 1982 was appointed singing professor at the Vienna Music Academy.

•  B.B. King, “the King of the Blues,” whose stinging guitar solos and husky, full-throated vocals made him an international music icon and the most commercially successful performer in blues history, died at the age of 89.

Christmas Music, Part 23 ~ Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

nutcracker

We also recently went to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

From http://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/N/George-Balanchine-s-The-Nutcracker.aspx

During the holiday period, the entire Company is immersed in activities surrounding George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. All 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet join forces to make each performance as magical as possible. Children of all ages from New York City and the nation fill the David H. Koch Theater to be captivated by the lure of Tschaikovsky’s music, Balanchine’s choreography, Karinska’s sumptuous costumes, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s magical sets. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, based on the Alexandre Dumas pere version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), demands a full-scale production.

The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 40 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance. Other notable feats include the comic figure of Mother Ginger — 85 pounds and nine feet wide, the costume requires handling by three people once it is lowered by pulley over the dancer’s head — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest, crystal-shaped snowflakes (which are swept up and conserved after each performance for reuse).

While these technical achievements are wonderful fun, it is Balanchine’s choreography that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeier and his Nephew — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory. The popularity of the ballet is immense and it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.

Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in North America. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.

Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular the pieces featured in the suite.