and the Festival Symphony Orchestra for a decidedly "OFAM" evening of classical music. For us, this is what a good trip -- and a good evening of music-making -- should be: a reunion of old acquaintances and a meeting of new and intriguing friends!
We begin the evening with one of the most infamous works of the 20th century, George Antheil's 1924 classic
avant-garde masterpiece Ballet mécanique, which sounds like just about what you'd expect from the title. Written to accompany a film of the same name that was a collaboration of American producer Dudley Murphy, French painter Fernand Leger, and American photographer and self-professed "maker of bad films" Man Ray, the work was the rage of Europe and made Antheil quite famous. We think it a smashing piece and just the perfect way to begin our "classical" treatment of the latter half of this year's theme, "Rhythm & The New World In The Age of Machines") and are pleased to be able to present it with the film. But we must admit that not everyone agrees with our and 1920s Paris' positive assessment. Indeed some people believe the piece has no redeeming artistic OR social value and many others are convinced that 20 million Frenchmen CAN be wrong. But hey, it's only music, it's only 16 minutes, and it really does contain some interesting ideas. We invite you to enjoy yourself! As an interesting piece of trivia, we note that Antheil's first title for the piece was "Message to Mars".
The rest of the program addresses the first part of our theme -- that of the special rhythmic flare that the New World brought to the European classical tradition. In honor of the Latin emphasis of our Traditions concerts
this weekend (see Saturday, August 4th), the Maestro has programmed two wonderful pieces from south of the border: Heitor Villa-Lobos' famous little Toccata from his 1933 Bachianas Brasileiras #2, "O Tremzinho do Caipira" ("The Little Train of the Countryside"), and Alberto Ginastera's 1941 powerful Estancia. We think you'll enjoy both of these pieces a lot.
We complete the evening with an friend, Antonin Dvorak's 1893 Symphony Symphony No. 9, From the New World. Dvorak's last symphony and considered by many to be his vorak's masterpiece, From the New World was the composer's attempt to draw upon the folk melodies and rhythms of America in much the way he was used to doing with Czech folk music. It makes for an interesting comparison with how different the sounds and rhythms of "the New World" he experienced were from those felt by Antheil, Villa-Lobos and Ginastera.