Concerts are held at the Performing Arts Center at Greenwich High School, 10 Hillside Road in Greenwich Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm.
Mozart, Symphony No. 35 (Haffner)
Brahms, Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny)
Greenwich High School Select Choirs
Schubert, Symphony No. 10
(U.S. Premiere of Performance Version by Pierre Bartholomee)
The Greenwich High School Choral Department is comprised of four ensembles involving nearly 250 students. Concert Choir (ninth through twelfth grade, males and females) is the main choral ensemble with over 135 members. After singing in Concert Choir for one year, students may elect to audition for one of three Select Choirs: Madrigals (36 female voices), Witchmen (24 male voices), and Chamber Singers (28 mixed voices). All five GHS choirs are full-credit, year-long classes meeting during the school day for fifty-eight minutes, four times a week. The choirs are directed by Patrick Taylor and have been honored with top prizes at state competitions for many years.
Symphony no. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (Haffner)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
The Haffner Symphony was the second of two major works composed for the Haffner family of Salzburg, people of wealth and influence who had acted as benefactors to the youthful Mozart. In 1776, the Haffners had commissioned a serenade for a family wedding. This work became the famous Haffner Serenade, which was so successful that when a Haffner family member was to be ennobled, it was only natural that Mozart would be called upon to write music for the occasion. The request came in 1782 during a very busy period in Mozart’s life. In addition to teaching, he was finishing his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, planning his marriage to Constanze Weber, and moving to a new house, among other things. Originally planned as another serenade with an opening march and two minuets, it is believed that the work was only partially completed in time for the ennoblement ceremony. Mozart reworked the piece, dropping the march and one of the minuets. The remaining four-movement work found its place as Mozart’s 35th Symphony, known as the Haffner, and was first performed on March 23, 1783 in Vienna.
Song of Destiny (Schicksalslied) Op. 54
Johannes Brahms (1833 -1897)
Song of Destiny (Schicksalslied), a choral setting with orchestra of a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin, is considered to be one of Brahms’s finest choral works along with Ein Deutches Requiem.
Brahms began work on Schicksalslied during the summer of 1868 while visiting his good friend Albert Dietrich in Wilhelmshaven. It was in Dietrich’s personal library that Brahms discovered “Hyperions Schicksalslied,” from Hölderlin’s novel Hyperion. Dietrich recalled a morning walk during which Brahms revealed the profound impression made upon him by Hölderlin’s poem. Brahms completed an initial setting of Hölderlin’s two verses with an orchestral introduction, with the third movement being a complete restatement of the first. Brahms was, however, not satisfied with this, as he felt it would nullify the dark agitated mood of the second movement. This conflict remained unresolved, with Schicksalslied unperformed, while Brahms turned his attention to the Alto Rhapsody, which he completed in 1870.
Brahms did not complete Schicksalslied until 1871, with a solution suggested to him by the conductor Hermann Levi, that instead of a full return of the first movement, a restatement of only the orchestral prelude might be used to conclude the piece. Convinced by Levi, Brahms composed the third movement as a copy of the orchestral prelude with richer instrumentation, and transposed from the key of E flat to C major. While Brahms had been hesitant to break the darkness of the second movement by bringing a blissful return to the first, some see Brahms’s return to the orchestral prelude as the wish on his part to end the work on a note of consolation. The premiere performance of Schicksalslied was given on October 18, 1871 in Karelsruhe, under the direction of Hermann Levi.
Symphony No. 10 in D Major, D. 936A
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
One of the most intriguing of the incomplete masterpieces left by composers who had failed to finish what they were working on when they died is the case of Schubert’s 10th Symphony. Here is a major work, a final symphony by one of our great masters, the existence of which was unidentified until the 1970s, nearly a century and a half after the composer had died. The 10th Symphony was discovered in a series of piano sketches that appear to have been worked on in 1828, during the final two and one-half months of Schubert’s life. The first completion came from scholar and conductor Brian Newbould, performed and recorded by him, as well as by Neville Marriner. Newbould, working from the sketches, concluded that Schubert had intended to cast the symphony in three movements, highly unconventional for its time. The third movement would be a kind of combination scherzo and rondo finale.
For these performances, a second edition by composer/conductor Pierre Bartholomée has been chosen, which involves a bit more speculation and more creative orchestration. For example, chromatic writing for the brass before the development of valved French horns and trumpets would make such writing practical. On the other hand, the writing for trombones is highly characteristic of Schubert’s approach to this family of instruments, which he had raised to an unprecedented level of exposure and thematic participation in his 9th (Great C Major) Symphony. Most controversial perhaps is Bartholomée’s interpolation of a scherzo from an earlier sketch to make the 10th Symphony a four-movement piece. And yet it works. Despite its liberties and enhanced colors, it sounds as if only Schubert could have composed it, even while sounding like nothing by Schubert we have ever heard before.
Moreover, the 10th Symphony forces us to ask, how Schubert might have developed had he lived past middle age, or even achieved the octogenarian status of Haydn or Verdi. As one wise person has noted, having died at 31 there is no late Schubert. All Schubert is early Schubert.
– Richard Schneider