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FIRST CONCERT

Wednesday Evening, May 17

OVERTURE, "Academic Festival," Opus 80

BRAHMS

Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg, May 7, 1833; died in Vienna, April 3, 1897.

Johannes Brahms was by no means the first great composer to receive an academic degree, but no composer or artist ever had more right to such a distinction than he. His serious intellectual outlook, his intense devotion to high ideals, and his utter repugnance to everything superficial or weakly sentimental made him self-critical to a superlative degree. While this may have resulted in an apparent loss of spontaneity, through it he developed a style replete with scholarly qualities and compelling the respect of his opponents. In the two overtures, "Academic Festival," op. 80, and "Tragic," op. 81, which were performed on the occasion of the conferring of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy on him by the University of Breslau in January, 1881, the best qualities of his genius are displayed in a light fully justifying the honor bestowed. The accusation that his compositions are lacking in geniality and wanting in much that appeals to the ordinary lover of music is still made-but is lacking in the insistence formerly laid upon it. The term "geniality"-used in the German sense-has taken on a deeper meaning with the passage of the years, and the ordinary lover of music responds to a higher appeal than formerly. Still, we all have our personal points of view, so there are many who do not admire Brahms and in all probability never will. Even they, however, always except this particular overture, possibly the perennial D major Symphony, and invariably his songs from their criticism.

The work is based on the following songs, all of them dear to the heart of the German student:

I. "Wir hatten gebauet ein stättliches Haus" (We had built a stately house);

2. "Der Landesvater" (The father of his country); "Hört, Ich sing das Lied der Lieder" (Hark, I sing the song of songs);

3. "Das Fuchs-Lied" (The "Fox" or Freshman's Song); "Was kommt dort von der Höh?" (What comes from the hills?);

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The first two are introduced into the opening section in a quasi-episodical manner. They serve neither as principal nor as secondary subjects, while the opening motive, C minor, 2-2 time, contains no hint of the distinctive character of the composition. No. 3, with its humorous, not to say bibulous, suggestions, very appropriately opens the second or "free fantasia" section, after which, in the third or "recapitulation" section, the three are treated in a masterly manner, even though the principal subject retires in favor of the more extensive development. As a brilliant coda and a fitting climax, "Gaudeamus Igitur" appears. With a stirring treatment of this fine old song, the composition is brought to an end (C major). To introduce so many distinctive and well-known melodies into the warp and woof of the formal structure of the classic overture, in which they could not be the leading themes from the structural point of view, in an environment which would of necessity attract the utmost attention to them, involved no small amount of judgment and a keen sense of values. It is therefore idle for formal anti-expansionists to complain of certain irregularities of structure. That Brahms was genial in his appreciation of the possibilities of his subject must be admitted no less than the fact that his solution of the inherent difficulties was successful.

ARIA, "Una furtiva lagrima," from "L'Elisir d'Amore"

MR. MARIO CHAMLEE

DONIZETTI

Gaetano Donizetti was born March 29, 1797 (?), at Bergamo; died there April 8, 1848.

Including the four posthumously performed operas, one of which was not heard till 1882 (Rome), the number of such works accredited to Donizetti is sixty-seven, but of them only five are now recognized as of enduring quality, and it is not well to stress the word "enduring." Among this group, L'Elisir d'amore must be included, which, after disappearing from the repertory for several years, has recently been rehabilitated with great success. This success does not rest entirely on its real merit, either musical or dramatic, but on account of several arias which are favorites with singers. In the group referred to the composer amply satisfied the demands of the "world, the flesh, and the devil," the last personified by the "encore fiends," in favor of whom Death not infrequently relaxed his hold on his victim that he, or she, might anticipate the Resurrection sufficiently to satisfy the public. It goes without saying that all of his operas abound with beautiful melodies cast in the conventional Italian form, and abundantly endowed with the applause-producing elements that have endeared them to singers. Donizetti was broader in his outlook than most of his contemporaries, for among his published works we find twelve string-quartets (highly spoken of), masses, etc. He frequently escaped the condemnation meted out to most of the opera-composers of his nationality that "they made of the orchestra a huge guitar," for he used the "brass" with so great freedom that it is related that a contemporary, looking at one of his scores in which he used 1st, 2d and 3d trombones, cried: "Great God! one hundred and twenty-three trombones!" Those tender souls whose special taboo is the "brass" need have no fear, for he did not let loose this section of his orchestra to any great extent in this aria, the text of which, in an English translation, runs as follows:

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