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Classical 101

Concerto for Orchestra and Hiroshima Idyll on Symphony @ 7

Ryan Cragun
Wikipedia- public domain
The Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound at the Hiroshima Peace Park

The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan 70 years ago today.  To begin the hour on Symphony @ 7 this evening on Classical 101, I have a short reflective work for orchestra titled Hiroshima Idyll written in 1995 by Paul Joslin. 

Hungarian composer Bela Bartok wrote his Concerto for Orchestra in the United States during World War Two while he was in exile from his homeland.  It was one of the last works he completed before his death from Leukemia in 1945.  It is also one of his greatest compositions.  I'll have a recording of this masterwork from the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Leon Botstein. 

The Concerto for Orchestra was commissioned by conductor Serge Koussevitsky, in part, to help the ailing composer whose music was not that well-known or widely appreciated in this country.  The premier by the Boston Symphony in December 1944 with Koussevitsky conducting was a great success, and the concerto is now regarded as a 20th century masterpiece.

Like much of Bartok's music, this work shows the influence of his studies of Eastern European folk music with its unusual (to us) melodies and intricate rhythms, but it uses traditional classical methods of organization with great skill as well.  The title, Concerto for Orchestra, reflects the way the composer wrote for each section of the orchestra in a virtuosic way, allowing individual groups of instruments or sections to have the spotlight in various parts. 

To close the hour, we'll hear music of American composer Aaron Jay Kernis, his Air for Violin, written for Joshua Bell in 1995. Bell will be the soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by David Zinman.