Beethoven Emperor Concerto

Fri, July 12, 2024 6:30 pm
Sat, July 13, 2024 7:30 pm

PROGRAM

Grant Park Orchestra

Grant Park Chorus

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Terrence Wilson, piano

JIM STEPHENSON

You have reached the city limits (World Premiere)


LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor
Allegro
Adagio un poco mosso
Allegro ma non troppo


INTERMISSION


MAURICE DURUFLÉ

Requiem
Introït
Kyrie
Domine Jesu Christe
Sanctus
Pie Jesu
Agnus Dei
Lux aeterna
Libera me
In paradisum

LOCATION

Jay Pritzker Pavilion


RUN TIME

Approx. 130 minutes including 20 minute intermission


SPONSORS

This program is generously supported as part of the Dehmlow Choral Music Series. The appearance of Giancarlo Guerrero is graciously underwritten by Lori Julian for the Julian Family Foundation.

MEET THE ARTISTS

Pianist Terrence Wilson

Terrence Wilson

Piano

Acclaimed by the Baltimore Sun as “one of the biggest pianistic talents to have emerged in this country in the last 25 years” pianist Terrence Wilson has appeared as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Washington, DC (National Symphony), San Francisco, St. Louis, and with the orchestras of Cleveland, Minnesota, and Philadelphia and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Conductors with whom he has worked include Christoph Eschenbach, Alan Gilbert, Neeme Järvi, Jesús López-Cobos, Lawrence Renes, Robert Spano, Yuri Temirkanov, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Gunther Herbig and Michael Morgan.

Abroad, Terrence Wilson has played concerti with such ensembles as the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland, the Malaysian Philharmonic, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He has toured with orchestras in the US and abroad, including a tour of the US with the Sofia Festival Orchestra (Bulgaria) and in Europe with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov.

An active recitalist, Terrence Wilson made his New York City recital debut at the 92nd Street Y, and his Washington, DC recital debut at the Kennedy Center. In Europe he has given recitals at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, the Lourvre in Paris, and countless other major venues. In the US he has given recitals at Lincoln Center in New York City (both Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall), the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, the Caramoor Festival in Katonah, NY, San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, and for the La Jolla Chamber Music Society. An avid chamber musician, he performs regularly with the Ritz Chamber Players. Festival appearances include the Blossom Festival, Tanglewood, Wolf Trap, with the San Francisco Symphony at Stern Grove Park, and an appearance with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra on July 4, 2015 before an audience of over fifteen thousand.

During the 2021-2022 season Wilson returned as soloist with the Alabama and Nashville Symphony Orchestras. He also made his debut with the Roanoke Symphony and returned to the Boulder Philharmonic. In the fall, the Chamber Music Society of Detroit presented Wilson with the Escher Quartet performing Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor. He also appeared at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in April 2022 performing music by Julius Eastman and Clarence Barlow. In May 2021, Wilson performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, K.467 with the New Jersey Symphony, of which a video was produced and is available for viewing on YOUTUBE.

In the summer of 2022, Wilson appeared as a guest of the Aspen Music Festival, performing with the Aspen Chamber Symphony and Robert Spano. He returned for chamber music performances at the St. Augustine Music Festival in August, and made his debut on the Maverick Concert Series in Woodstock, NY. Wilson also returned as piano faculty at the Brevard Music Center in Western North Carolina, and had a teaching residency at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute.

In the 2022-2023 season, Wilson has numerous engagements as soloist with such orchestras as the Pasadena and Stockton Symphonies in California. He also performs recitals in Boston and Kansas City.

Terrence Wilson has received numerous awards and prizes, including the SONY ES Award for Musical Excellence, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and the Juilliard Petschek Award. He has also been featured on several radio and television broadcasts, including NPR’s “Performance Today,” WQXR radio in New York, and programs on the BRAVO Network, the Arts & Entertainment Network, public television, and as a guest on late night network television. In 2011, Wilson was nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Instrumental Soloist With an Orchestra” for his (world premiere) recording with the Nashville Symphony conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero of Michael Daugherty’s Deus ex Machina for piano and orchestra – written for Wilson in 2007.

Terrence Wilson is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where he studied with Yoheved Kaplinsky. He has also enjoyed the invaluable mentorship of the Romanian pianist and teacher Zitta Zohar. A native of the Bronx, he resides in Montclair, New Jersey. In March 2021, Wilson was appointed to the piano faculty at Bard College Conservatory of Music.

Giancarlo Guerrero

Conductor

Giancarlo Guerrero is a six-time GRAMMY® Award-winning conductor and Music Director of the Nashville Symphony and NFM Wrocław Philharmonic. Guerrero has been praised for his “charismatic conducting and attention to detail” (Seattle Times) in “viscerally powerful performances” (Boston Globe) that are “at once vigorous, passionate, and nuanced” (BachTrack).

Through commissions, recordings, and world premieres, Guerrero has championed the works of prominent American composers, presenting eleven world premieres and fifteen recordings of American music with the Nashville Symphony, including works by Michael Daugherty, Terry Riley and Jonathan Leshnoff.

As part of his commitment to fostering contemporary music, Guerrero, together with composer Aaron Jay Kernis, guided the creation of Nashville Symphony’s biannual Composer Lab & Workshop for young and emerging composers.

In the 2022-23 season, Guerrero returned to lead the Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Deutches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester and Queensland Symphony.

The 2021-22 season saw Guerrero’s critically acclaimed debuts with the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony and a return to conduct the Chicago Symphony in addition to performances in Nashville, Wrocław, Lisbon and Bilbao. Though live concerts in the 2020-21 season were largely canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Guerrero performed in virtual concerts with the Houston and Boston Symphonies. He also led the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic in a recording with violinist Bomsori Kim. Their Billboard chart-topping album Bomsori: Violin on Stage was released on Deutsche Grammophon in June 2021.

Other recent additions to Guerrero’s discography include the GRAMMY® nominated recording of John Adams: My Father Knew Charles Ives & Harmonielehre with the Nashville Symphony on Naxos, and a recording of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and the Academic Festival Overture released on NFM Wrocław’s own label.

Maestro Guerrero has also appeared with prominent North American orchestras, including those of Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Montréal, Philadelphia, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Internationally he has worked in recent seasons with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, London Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Netherlands Philharmonic, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Brussels Philharmonic, Deutsches Radio Philharmonie and Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, as well as the Sydney Symphony in Australia. Guerrero was honored as the keynote speaker at the 2019 League of American Orchestras conference.

Guerrero previously held posts as the Principal Guest Conductor of both The Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency and the Gulbenkian Symphony in Lisbon, Music Director of the Eugene Symphony, and Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Born in Nicaragua, Guerrero immigrated during his childhood to Costa Rica, where he joined the local youth symphony. He studied percussion and conducting at Baylor University in Texas and earned his master’s degree in conducting at Northwestern. Given his beginnings in civic youth orchestras, Guerrero is particularly engaged with conducting training orchestras and has worked with the Curtis School of Music, Colburn School in Los Angeles, National Youth Orchestra (NYO2) and Yale Philharmonia, as well as with the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando program, which provides an intensive music education to promising young students from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

PROGRAM NOTES

 

James Stephenson (b. 1969)  

You have reached the city limits (Festival Commission) 

Scored for: piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four French horns, three trumpets including cornet and piccolo trumpet, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, piano, and strings

Performance time: 10 minutes 

World Premiere performance

A Note from the Composer: 

I’m a proud Chicagoan, through and through. I was born here, and later in life, when the opportunity came about to relocate, there was no doubt that the Chicago area would become home.

As such, I’ve been to hear the Grant Park Symphony many times, and when the opportunity arose to write a piece for the festival, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

I wanted to write a piece that would recognize the venue and orchestra for which I was writing, as well as the city I call home. One can’t help but notice when attending a GPMF concert that any performance might be accompanied by people chatting, sirens wailing, unexpected weather, and more. I wanted to write a piece that might embrace that, rather than worry about it.

Also, I’ve long known (as we all have) that Chicago is well-known for its blues tradition. From the early 1920s with the Red Hot Peppers, through Muddy Waters a few decades later, through today, Chicago is famous for its down-home and gritty blues.

“You have reached the city limits” explores the idea of a young couple deciding to “hit the town”. The protagonist (the solo violin) eggs their partner along to have some fun, and make a night of it. The partner (trumpet) complains and hesitates. Finally, they head out, and dash through the city, and happen upon two blues clubs. The first represents the blues from the 1920s, viewed through a
smoky lens of history. A solo clarinet, piano, trumpet, and trombone remind us of what that might have sounded like.

A little bit later, they enter a club playing the mid-century gritty blues. The music gets a bit edgier, with harmonica-like sounds and again a solo piano representing that era.

Finally they are off again on their own, having a great time, and when the orchestra swells to a giant climax, the truth is revealed that all they needed to do was spend some time together, enjoying one another’s company, to satisfy their urge for fun.

Lastly, I’ll mention that I was delighted to learn that Giancarlo Guerrero would be conducting this premiere. I’ve long admired his work on the podium, and it is a true statement that the energy within this piece was in part due to my imagination of what he would bring to this – as he does to all music – on the podium.

My most sincere thanks to the Grant Park Orchestral Association for this fun opportunity, and to my hometown of Chicago, and all of the people who have made it so, for the inspiration.

Jim Stephenson; March 15, 2024

 

Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)  

Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major for Piano and Orchestra, op.73, Emperor (1809)  

Scored for: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two French horns, two trumpets, timpani, strings, and solo piano

Performance time: 38 minutes 

First Grant Park Orchestra performance: August 11, 1948; Nicolai Malko, conductor and Theodore Lettvin, piano 

Ludwig van Beethoven would have certainly balked at us using the nickname “Emperor” for his fifth and final piano concerto. The origin of the nickname is unclear. The implausible creation myth is that during the Viennese premiere in 1812, a French officer exclaimed, “C’est l’Empereur!” (“It’s the Emperor!”) when he heard the heroic music. The sobriquet more likely originates from the similarity of the concerto to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, in both character and key (E-flat major). Beethoven had initially dedicated Eroica to the French revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte, whose republican ideals Beethoven had admired. However, when word got to Beethoven that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor of France in May 1804, the composer famously tore the title page of his symphony in two and threw it to the floor.  

When Beethoven completed his Piano Concerto No. 5 in 1809, Austria was at war with France for the fourth time since 1792. Each successive tussle during the Napoleonic Wars had meant more territorial losses and economic hardship for Austria. In search of financial stability, Beethoven considered accepting a position as court composer to Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s younger brother and the newly installed puppet king of Westphalia, in 1808. When three wealthy Viennese patrons got wind of this, they pooled their resources to ensure Beethoven would stay in the city by offering him a guaranteed income and pension. Beethoven agreed to this arrangement in March 1809, but it did not bring him the stability he desired. Austria declared war on France on April 9, and Napoleon’s troops bombarded Vienna on May 11. Beethoven is said to have sought shelter in a friend’s cellar that night, tying pillows to his head to protect his ears from further hearing loss. The imperial family fled the city, including the most devoted of Beethoven’s three patrons and the dedicatee of Piano Concerto No. 5, Archduke Rudolph. Amid the chaos, the money Beethoven was promised often did not arrive on time or in full. Unsurprisingly, the summer of 1809 was largely unproductive and miserable for Beethoven, as evidenced by what he wrote to his publisher in Leipzig that July: “Nothing but drums, cannons, human misery of every sort!” Fortunately, he had sketched most of the Fifth Piano Concerto before the war broke out, and he managed to regain the concentration to complete it by the end of the year (though continued geopolitical turmoil delayed the premiere for two years).  

 The opening of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 is unique, with three stately chords in the orchestra outlining the harmonic pattern of a cadence. Between each of these pillars of sound, the piano soloist responds with cascades of arpeggios, scales, and trills. Each flourish becomes denser and more virtuosic, recalling cadenzas that typically herald the end of a concerto movement, not the beginning. The third flourish ends quietly, however, making for a surprise when the orchestra charges in with the triumphant main theme. Ornate pianistic passagework continues to characterize the Allegro, establishing the soloist as the hero. That said, Beethoven masterfully balances moments of brilliance with moments of quiet throughout the movement. The lyrical Adagio then takes us to the remote key of B major. The muted strings present a pilgrim’s hymn, to which the piano responds with a pianissimo melody in triplets. Unusually, the soloist preempts the theme of the finale at the end of the Adagio while still in the movement’s slow tempo and soft dynamic. Continuing without a break, the theme emerges fortissimo and at full speed, opening the ebullient finale with a vigorous syncopated dance.  

 

Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986)  

Requiem, op.9 (1947)  

Scored for: three flutes including piccolo, three oboes including English Horn, three clarinets including bass clarinet, two bassoons, four French horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, celesta, organ, strings, and chorus

Performance time: 45 minutes 

First Grant Park Orchestra performance: July 12, 1986; Thomas Peck, conductor and chorus director; director and Barbara Pearson, soprano; Philip Kraus, baritone; Thomas Peck, director 

French organist, composer, and teacher Maurice Duruflé only published fourteen works during his career. This small compositional output is attributable to both his skill as an improviser and his crippling self-doubt. He even considered retracting his Requiem from publication. Organist Marie-Claire Alain recalled him saying, “Oh what a disaster that I let [the Requiem] be published! The Pie Jesu is a complete failure! . . . an unsuccessful and detestable work.” Fortunately, Duruflé did not deprive us of this profound masterpiece. Had he done so, he probably would not be remembered today outside of France or organist circles. Given his perfectionism, the few works he did leave are therefore of the utmost quality and demonstrate a distinctive compositional voice.  

How the Requiem came to be is a bit contentious. The Duruflé Association maintains that the Requiem was commissioned by Duruflé’s publisher, Éditions Durand. However, musicologists uncovered a slightly different story in the early 2000s. In the late 1930s, France’s economy was in shambles. In a radical move to relieve unemployment, the Fine Arts Administration began awarding commissions to incentivize composers to produce new works. This program continued even after France fell to Nazi Germany and the Vichy government was established in July 1940. In May 1941, Duruflé was one of many composers to accept a commission to compose a symphonic poem for the sum of 10,000 francs. It took Duruflé over six years to complete the commissioned work, submitting it to the Fine Arts Administration in January 1948—well after the war had ended and a new French government was in place. The resulting piece was also no longer a symphonic poem but a Requiem. He was paid 30,000 francs for his efforts—ultimately a paltry sum as inflation had skyrocketed in the intervening years. Duruflé’s Requiem is the only “Vichy commission” to remain in the repertory.   

While this origin story is uncomfortable, it is an example of how French composers at the time were often simply trying to make a living under desperate circumstances. Plus, the fact that Duruflé did not complete or submit the Requiem until the end of the war further frees him from implications of being a German sympathizer or collaborator. Regardless of the circumstances of the commission, the French people heard Duruflé’s poignant Requiem as an expression of French mourning when it premiered on national radio on All Souls’ Day (November 2), 1947.  

Duruflé received his early musical training at a choir school in Rouen. There, he encountered the tradition of Gregorian chant, which became a lifelong compositional influence. At the time of commission, Duruflé had been working on an organ suite based on the plainchants of the Mass for the Dead as outlined in the Liber Usualis. He transformed these organ works into the Requiem, with each of the nine movements using the chant and modal scale assigned to the corresponding text to some extent. Sometimes, these quotes are presented in full and in the original mode, as in the opening statement by the tenors and basses of “Requiem aeternam” in the “Introit.” Other times, the chants are treated more freely with rhythmic variation, ornamentation, or transposition. In any case, he captures the lightness and rhythmic flexibility essential to Gregorian chant throughout. Uniquely, these ancient melodies appear against the backdrop of modern harmonies and colorful orchestration inspired by composers like Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel. This combination of seemingly disparate elements gives Duruflé his distinctive voice and places the Requiem simultaneously within its era and outside the bounds of time. 

 Duruflé’s masterpiece has often drawn comparisons with Fauré’s Requiem, and for good reason. Both follow French tradition and the Catholic liturgy in the selection and organization of the movements. Both also omit the harrowing “Dies Irae” that evokes the terror of the Last Judgement, placing them in opposition with famous examples by Mozart, Verdi, and Berlioz. Instead, Duruflé and Fauré’s Requiems are more comforting, reinforcing a kinder image of God and portraying peacefulness in death, not torment. While there are other similarities between the two pieces, including their use of high-voiced soloists for the tender “Pie Jesu” movements, they differ chiefly in Duruflé’s extensive quotation of plainchant, larger orchestration, and greater musical contrasts and stylistic diversity. 

 

Program Notes by Katherine Buzard

CHORAL TEXT

Maurice Duruflé
Requiem

Catholic Requiem Mass 

Introït 

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam: ad te omnis caro veniet. 

Introït

Give them eternal rest, Lord: 
and may light perpetual shine upon them. 
A hymn becomes you, God, in Zion, 
and a vow shall be paid to you in Jerusalem. 
Hear my prayer: to you all flesh shall come. 

Kyrie 

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Lord

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. 

Domine Jesu Christe 

Domine Jesu Christe, rex gloriae,
libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu.
Libera eas de ore leonis,
ne absorbeat eas Tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum:
sed signifer Sanctus Michael
repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam
quam olim Abrahae promisisti, et semini eius.
Hostias et preces tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus:
tu suscipe pro animabus illis,
quarum hodie memoriam facimus;
fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam
quam olim Abrahae promisisti, et semini eius.

Lord Jesus Christ

Lord Jesus Christ, king of glory,
deliver the souls of all the faithful departed
from the punishments of hell and from the deep lake.
Deliver them from the mouth of the lion,
lest Tartarus swallow them up, lest they fall into darkness:
but let the standard-bearer Saint Michael
bring them back into the holy light
which you once promised to Abraham and his seed.
We offer prayers and sacrifices of praise to you, Lord:
you receive them on behalf of those souls
whose memory we recall today;
cause them, Lord, to pass from death to the life
which you once promised to Abraham and his seed.

Sanctus 

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth:
pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis. 

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis. 

Holy

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts:
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest. 

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Pie Jesu 

Pie Jesu, Domine, dona eis requiem.
Pie Jesu, Domine, dona eis requiem sempiternam. 

Blessed Jesus

Blessed Jesus, Lord, give them rest.
Blessed Jesus, Lord, give them eternal rest.

Agnus Dei 

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem sempiternam.

Lamb of God

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
give them rest.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
give them eternal rest.

Lux aeterna 

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine,
cum sanctis tuis in aeternum, quia pius es.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis, quia pius es.

Light eternal

May eternal light shine on them, Lord,
with your saints for ever, for you are good.
Give them eternal rest, Lord,
and may light perpetual shine upon them, for you are good.  

Libera me 

Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna, in die illa tremenda:
quando caeli movendi sunt et terra;
dum veneris iudicare saeculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo,
dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira,
quando caeli movendi sunt et terra;
Dies illa, dies irae, calamitatis et miseriae,
dies magna et amara valde,
dum veneris iudicare saeculum per ignem.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis. 

Deliver me

Deliver me, Lord, from eternal death, on that terrible day:
when the heavens and earth will be shaken;
when you will come to judge the age with fire.
I am made to tremble, and I am afraid,
since trial and anger are coming,
when the heavens and earth will be shaken;
That day, a day of anger, disaster and sorrow,
a mighty day, and one exceedingly bitter,
when you will come to judge the age with fire.
Give them eternal rest, Lord,
and may light perpetual shine upon them.

In paradisum 

In paradisum deducant te Angeli,
in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere,
aeternam habeas requiem.

In Paradise

May the angels receive them in Paradise,
at thy coming may the martyrs receive thee
and bring thee into the holy city Jerusalem.
There may the chorus of angels receive thee,
and with Lazarus, once a beggar,
may thou have eternal rest.

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