Program Notes - Fall Concert
Theme: Rip-Roaring Wild West Concert
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
|"Main Title-Looks Like a Suicide,"|
|"The John Dunbar Theme,"|
|"Journey to Fort Sedgewick,"|
|"The Love Theme,"|
|"Two Socks at Play," and|
|"Farewell and End Title." [CJ]|
"The Cowboys was a film directed by the very talented Mark Rydel and featured John Wayne, probably Hollywood's quintessential cowboy.
"The movie required a vigorous musical score to accompany virtuoso horseback riding and calf roping, and when my friend Andre Previn heard fragments of the score, he suggested that a concert overture lay hidden within the film's music. Several years slipped by, and each time I saw the indefatigable Previn, he would ask, 'Have you made an overture of Cowboys yet?'
"He kept this up until 1980, when I finally worked out the piece and played it at a Boston Pops concert. Both the orchestra and the audience seemed to enjoy the music to such an extent that it has been part of our repertoire ever since.
"I am especially delighted that this edition has finally been made available, and I hope that interested people will find genuine pleasure in this music." [John Williams]
The overture to the opera William Tell, especially its high-energy finale, is a very familiar work composed by Gioachino Rossini. There has been repeated use (and sometimes parody) of this overture in the popular media, most famously for being the theme music for the Lone Ranger radio and television shows, and Dmitri Shostakovich quoted it in his Symphony No. 15. William Tell was the last of Rossini's 39 operas, after which he went into semi-retirement, although he continued to compose cantatas, sacred music, and secular vocal music.
The overture is written in four parts, each seguéing into the next:
|The Prelude, also called "Dawn," is a slow passage with low-pitch instruments such as cello and bass.|
|The Storm is a dynamic section played by the full orchestra.|
|The Ranz des Vaches, or "Call To The Dairy Cows," features the cor Anglais, or "English horn." (This segment is often used in animated cartoons to signify daybreak.)|
|The Finale is also called "The March Of The Swiss Soldiers." It is an ultra-dynamic "cavalry charge" galop heralded by trumpets and played by the full orchestra. (This segment, often used in popular media to denote galloping horses, is the segment that became the Lone Ranger theme music.)|
Lone Ranger producers James Jewell and George W. Trendle decided upon the William Tell Overture largely due to it being in the public domain, sparing the WXYZ radio station the need to pay royalties for its use. That also explained the use of Flight Of The Bumblebee as the theme for The Green Hornet radio series. [Adapted from Wikipedia]
Ferde Grofé loved the outdoors and nature, and made many trips to the Grand Canyon in the early Twenties of this century. He became obsessed with the idea of composing music about the Canyon. He wrote the orchestral sketches, "Sunrise," in 1921, and "Sunset" in 1922. Ten years later he completed his suite about the Grand Canyon, adding three movements, "Painted Desert," "On the Trail," and "Cloudburst."
On the Trail describes a traveler and his burro descending the trail. Sharp hoof beats of the animal form the rhythmic background for the cowboy's song. They pass a waterfall oasis and approach a lone cabin, from which the sound of a music box is heard. The travelers stop to rest at the cabin and then go on at a livelier pace. This movement is the most popular of the suite. The orchestra begins by simulating the loud braying of the burro followed by a violin cadenza. The first theme is a graceful melody that gives the feeling of a burro walking. The second theme is a western style melody. Then the celeste plays the music box theme. We hear next the opening theme at a faster tempo and the movement ends as it began, with the braying of the burro. [Manchester Symphony Orchestra]
Richard Hayman is best known as an arranger, harmonica player, and conductor. He has had a long career, working with Arthur Fiedler, and the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Saint Louis Orchestra, and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, where he is still Principal Pops Conductor.
Hayman worked for years in Hollywood as an arranger and conductor, and even has his own star on the Walk of Fame. He has served as musical director or master of ceremonies on tours with such notables as Al Hirt, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Olivia Newton-John, and many others.
Hayman orchestrated a medley of folk-tunes for his "Pops" Hoe-Down. It opens with a short introduction of rather frantic fiddling, and then moves into a series of familiar pieces. You will no doubt recognize the following tunes:
|The Devil's Dream Reel|
|Pop Goes the Weasel|
|Miss McCloud's Reel|
|Turkey in the Straw|
|The Rakes of Mallow|
Toward the end, you will hear Hayman's signature harmonica. [James R. C. Adams]
Oklahoma! was the first collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Over the 17 years they worked together, they received 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and two Grammy Awards! Filled with memorable songs, Oklahoma! is also revered for its inclusion of a ballet sequence (the first of its kind on Broadway) choreographed by Agnes de Mille.
The Selections for Orchestra arranged by Robert Russell Bennett begins with an introduction using fragments of tunes to come. We then hear the following:
|"The Farmer and the Cowman"|
|"People Will Say We're in Love"|
|"Out of My Dreams"|
|"Oh, What a Beautiful Morning"|
|"Pore Jud is Daid"|
|"The Surrey with the Fringe on Top"|
|"Many a New Day"|
|"I Cain't Say No"|
The conclusion then returns to the previously-heard fragments. [CJ]
Franz von Suppé is an example of one of those composers who was very successful in his own time, but known today for only a few pieces. In his case, they are mostly overtures. The Light Cavalry is one of them.
Suppé was born in Spalato, Dalmatia (now, Split, Croatia), to a father of Belgian origin, and a mother from Vienna. At the age of thirteen, he wrote a mass that was good enough to be revised and published some forty years later.
He spent much of his youth in Italy, where he studied law, as decreed by his father, while mingling with Italian composers, and writing his own music. Suppé was born Francesco Suppé Demelli, and is still known by that name in Italian circles. When he returned from his studies in Italy, he helped support himself by teaching Italian in Vienna. The success of his music is sometimes ascribed to his Italian gift for melody. He spoke German with an Italian accent throughout his life, and he is supposed to have admitted to having a poor understanding of some of the German libretti with which he worked. Suppé wrote some thirty light operas, and incidental music for over one hundred and eighty works.
The overture to Light Cavalry was for a two-act operetta. It opens with a bugle call and fanfare, which serve as the basis for variations and lyrical writing in the style of Donizetti, whom he greatly admired, and to whom he was distantly related. At about the two-and-a-half minute mark, we hear the famous imitation of horses cantering, and then we come upon an interlude of decidedly Magyar flavor. (The operetta has a section where the cavalry marches across Hungarian fields.)
Often Suppé's works have been used for comic effect, and you might recognize parts of this work from having heard it in cartoons. [adapted from James R. C. Adams]