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Program Notes - Fall Concert

Theme: Rip-Roaring Wild West Concert

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)

"The Magnificent Seven (1960) was one of the few pictures I wanted to do so badly I really put myself out to get it. In this and another picture done much at the same time -- The Comancheros -- I think I said almost everything I had to say on the subject of Western Americana. In The Magnificent Seven the purpose of the music was primarily to increase excitement, but it also served in a quite specific way to provide pacing to a film [that] would have been much slower without the score. When next you see the film, observe that the music is often faster in tempo than anything that is actually happening on the screen. The film needed music to help give it drive. In that sense, it is a quite physical score, as much foreground as background. It was a film that also needed music to suit its locale, and in this case I felt it should have a definite Chicano sound, a blending of many elements of American and Mexican music.

"Every once in a while -- it doesn't happen often -- you hit on something really quite thrilling. I remember being very excited when I found that opening rhythm. It was like a surge of energy. That's what people really remember." [Elmer Bernstein]


"Saturday Night Waltz" and "Hoe-Down" from Rodeo (1942)
Aaron Copland (1900-1992)

The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo commissioned the choreographer Agnes de Mille and the composer Aaron Copland to collaborate on the creation of a western ballet for its 1942-43 season. Originally sub-titled "The Courting at Burnt Ranch," Rodeo was first produced on October 16, 1942. Agnes de Mille described it as follows:

"Throughout the American Southwest, the Saturday afternoon rodeo is a tradition. On the remote ranches, as well as in the trading centers and the towns, the 'hands' get together to show off their skill in roping, riding, branding and throwing. Often, on the more isolated ranches, the rodeo is done for an audience that consists only of a handful of fellow-workers, women-folk, and those nearest neighbors who can make the eighty or so mile run-over.

"The afternoon's exhibition is usually followed by a Saturday night dance at the Ranch House.

"The theme of the ballet is basic. It deals with the problem that has confronted all American women, from earliest pioneer times, and which has never ceased to occupy them throughout the history of the building of our country: how to get a suitable man."

The "Saturday Night Waltz" and the "Hoe-Down" are third and fourth of the Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo. Copland drew on American folk songs as source material for some of this music. A square dance tune, "Bonyparte," provides the principal theme of the "Hoe-Down," for instance. [CJ]


Concert Suite from Dances with Wolves (1990)
John Barry (1933-2011)
Arr. Steven L. Rosenhaus (b. 1952)

The film Dances with Wolves was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Picture and Best Music (Original Score). John Barry was nominated for Oscars seven times and won five! The selections included in the Concert Suite by Steven L. Rosenhaus are as follows:

"Main Title-Looks Like a Suicide,"
"The John Dunbar Theme,"
"Journey to Fort Sedgewick,"
"Pawnee Attack,"
"The Love Theme,"
"Two Socks at Play," and
"Farewell and End Title." [CJ]


The Cowboys Overture (1972)
John Williams (b. 1932)

"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]


Finale from the William Tell Overture (1829)
Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)

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]


"On the Trail" from Grand Canyon Suite (1932)
Ferde Grofé (1892-1972)

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]


"Pops" Hoe-Down (1963)
Richard Hayman (b. 1920)

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
Chicken Reel
Thunder Hornpipe
Paddy Whack
Pop Goes the Weasel
Miss McCloud's Reel
Turkey in the Straw
Stop Buck
Soldier's Joy
The Rakes of Mallow
Devil's Dream

Toward the end, you will hear Hayman's signature harmonica. [James R. C. Adams]


Selections from Oklahoma! (1943)
Richard Rodgers (1902-1979)
Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960)
Arr. Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981)

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"
"Kansas City"
"Farmer Dance"
"I Cain't Say No"

The conclusion then returns to the previously-heard fragments. [CJ]


Light Cavalry Overture (1866)
Franz von Suppé (1819-1895)

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]