List of Players and Program Notes
for April 13, 2003 Musica Bella Chamber Music Concert

Chamber Music Concert No. 1

Click on a musician’s name to see his/her bio and photo.

Musica Bella Orchestra members Whitney La Grange and Lynn Ledbetter, violins; Stephen Salchow and Ken Clark, violas; James Mark Pedersen and Anahit Harutyunyan-Gaskill, cellos.

Musica Bella Orchestra members Uli Speth, Katie Morton, Lynn Ledbetter, and Whitney La Grange, violins; Ken Clark and Stephen Salchow, violas; Anahit Harutyunyan-Gaskill and James Mark Pedersen, cellos.

Concert under the musical direction of Musica Bella Associate Music Director Robert Radmer

Manager   Anahit Harutyunyan-Gaskill
Music Director/Conductor   Phillip Gaskill
Associate Music Director/Associate Conductor   Dr. Robert Radmer

Both Felix Mendelssohn and Arnold Schoenberg developed their style of composition based on the classic principles of music. They each studied the music of J. S. Bach, and both incorporated his principles of achieving harmony through the interplay of melodic lines. Each considered himself to be in the mainstream of Western art music, standing upon the shoulders of the great classical composers.

These parallels notwithstanding, each had fundamentally different career paths, and each left a dramatically different legacy in the minds of their audiences. Mendelssohn grew up in a wealthy family which renounced its Jewish heritage and embraced Protestantism in an effort to fit into the German upper-middle class. He embraced the musical accomplishments of his culture, and worked within the general styles and forms established by his models—Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Mendelssohn had access to the finest music education available, and his rise to the top of the music community was accomplished by the time he was in his late teens.

In contrast, Schoenberg came from an impoverished lower-class background in which he had to assume the role of breadwinner for his family after the death of his shopkeeper father. He had no access to art music of any kind and virtually no musical training. He was forced to flee Germany because of his Jewish heritage. Schoenberg climbed by the strength of his own will to the forefront of Viennese art music, and once there he had to suffer nearly universal rejection of his later ideas because they were seen as being too outrageous and difficult.

The two works on this program are towering monuments of classical music, yet they differ radically in conception and execution. Each was written when its composer was quite young, and each has been described as a first mature work. Mendelssohn completed the Octet in 1825 when he was 16 years old, and it reflects his classical models in his handling of melody, harmony, form, and the use of his instrumental forces. Completed in 1899 when Schoenberg was 25, Verklärte Nacht is based not upon classical principles but upon a passionate poem. The work is a product of the hothouse Viennese culture of the end of the 19th century, incorporating not only the techniques of Brahms and the passion of Wagner but the Romantic ideal of the individual as a creative force. The Octet represents a well-trained, optimistic, and youthful mind; at all times the listener can sense the Classical ideals present in the work. The Sextet mirrors the emotional turmoil made famous in the painting of Edvard Munch, “The Scream,” and the fascination with individual experience that produced the psychoanalytic thought of Sigmund Freud. Although the two works are similar in that they employ a small group of string players, they represent vastly differing world-views.

Notes by Robert Radmer