This morning’s musical selections represent both the enrichment of mainstream Western Art Music by indigenous resources as well as the appropriation of native art forms by colonizing forces.
In the 1880’s, when the U.S. was still a backwater in matters of arts education, the philanthropist-socialite Jeannette Thurber had the inspiration to found the National Conservatory of Music in NYC, in order to provide gifted native-born musicians with educational opportunities at home. However, the prevailing Eurocentrism of the day was an unavoidable factor in the institution’s management. Thurber sought out the celebrated Czech (then Bohemian) composer Antonín Dvorak to head up the school and teach American composers how to create a native school of symphonic composition…by utilizing indigenous musical resources. The fruits of Dvorak’s 3-year stint in the U.S. include his celebrated Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” and his so-called “American” string quartet, works which defined a popular American idiom as much they borrowed from it. His famous Humoresque---played as Musical Interlude II this morning---actually quotes a theme by an African-American composer enrolled at the National Conservatory of Music, Maurice Arnold Strothotte.
Elsewhere, the Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge’s fascination with colonial music from the West Indies is on display during Interlude I, and the New York City-born Edward MacDowell’s indebtedness to the “Indianist” movement can be heard in the Opening Music. Finally, Unitarian composer Béla Bartók’s exhaustive research into the orally disseminated rural music of Eastern Europe worked its way into his piano works featured in the Meditation and Music for Parting. Read on for programming details.
Opening Music: Adam Kent, piano
Indian Idyl, Op, 62, No. 6
Habanera, from “Three Divertimentos on Themes by Forgotten Composers”
Humoresque in Gb Major, Op. 101, No. 7
Evening in Transylvania
Music for Parting: