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The Southeast Kansas Symphony Orchestra
Raul Munguia - Artistic Director & Conductor

2008-09 Season

Sunday, February 22, 2009
~ 3:00 p.m. ~
McCray Auditorium

Concert program (PDF)
Concert poster
Related Links

Concert Graphic

February 22nd, 2008
Program Notes

Fidelio Overture, Op. 72c

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Allegro - Adagio

Composed In: 1814
First Performed: Vienna, Kärtnerthor Theater

It took Beethoven nine years to pen what has become the overture to his only opera "Fidelio". The path taken for the piece was as rocky and dramatic as the plot of the opera itself. Over that time period, three "Leonore" overtures were written, before the final "Fidelio Overture" was officially adopted for the opera.

The opera is thought to have a true-to-life story of the French Revolution behind it, with the "names changed to protect the innocent". Change France to Spain, change the names... the story and moral was left to tell, without all of those akward political complications. The Spanish nobleman Florestan has been wrongfully jailed by an enemy, Don Pizarro. Lenore, Florestan's wife, disguises herself as a young man, taking the name Fidelio, and obtains a job with the jailer Rocco. Lenore manages to hold off Pizarro's plans to destroy Florestan until help arrives and he and the other political prisoners are released. Throw in the added complication of "Fidelio" catching the eye of Rocco's daughter Marzelline; you have all of the elements of a fine tale.

The first Lenore overture was written in 1805, but after its initial screening for prince Lichnowsky, it was dropped, and not published until 1832, several years after Beethoven's death.

The second overture was presented with the premiere performance in November, 1805 - just weeks after Napoleon's occupation of Vienna. Perhaps for genuine musical reasons or that Napoleon's entourage made up a significant portion of the audience, it was considered too complex and radical for the time, and received harsh criticism.

Enter Lenore number 3. This version was extensively edited and presented in March, 1806, after the French had left Vienna. It is the most powerful of all the arrangements and very well received, due in part to its more traditional structure of the time. In fact, it was a bit too powerful, and later believed to overpower the impact of the opera itself. Currently it stands as the overture of choice for the non-operatic performances.

Finally, in 1814, Beethoven wrote the Fidelio, the fourth and final overture for the opera. It is much shorter, and oddly enough, the "accepted" version doesn't really have any musical allusions to the themes of the opera, as did the other three. The composer, however, did not want this opening to overshadow what came next. This version is in the key of E major, a key of heroism and hope in the opera. The other three overtures were in C major, used to symbolize victory over struggle. Perhaps by now he realized the importance of struggle in life, and not the final victory?

Scored for: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, timpani, and strings. [2222-4220-tmp-str]

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, op. 58

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante con moto
III. Rondo (Vivace)

Written In: 1805-1806
First Performance: March 1807, Palace of Prince Lobkowitz
First Public Performance: Dec. 1808, Vienna. Theater an der Wien. Beethoven soloist.

If you lived in Vienna in 1808 - December 22nd to be exact, the hot ticket was for Beethoven's premier of his fourth Piano Concerto. It was the evening that also premiered his Fifth Symphony... and his Sixth... and his Choral Fantasy... as well as three movements from is Mass in C... not to mention the concert aria Ah! perfido... and to make sure everyone left happy, a few piano improvisations by the composer. It was also the last time the Master performed as soloist with an orchestra.

Indeed a momentous occasion. And at least the ticket was hot. A malfunction in the heating system at the Theater an der Wien kept this historic concert on the chilly side. The Choral Fantasy was so brand-new, the orchestra barely had time to rehearse, and after a breakdown during the performance, either from the lack of preparation, or frozen fingers, the composer decided to start over... from the beginning.

When Beethoven took the stage to perform the Concerto, the audience was aghast that he simply strode over, sat down, and began to play. Really, anyone that's ever heard a concerto before knows that the orchestra is in charge of handing out all the goodies before the soloist is allowed to begin! He's done this wrong! Well, perhaps he just wanted to make his own musical mark in Vienna in the wake of Haydn and Mozart, and he certainly had people setting up in their seats. The movement opens with a few intimate bars by the soloist in the tonic key of G, and ending after five measures on the dominant D major. Not allowing the orchestra their chance, they must come in B major, completing the G major chord triad, a motif of the first movement. Among the generally noble themes stated here, the four-note rhythm associated with his Fifth Symphony make an appearance.

The second movement, andante con moto, brings another basic change to the concerto. A dialog only between the piano and strings opens with a stern statement in the strings. A soft answer turns away wrath, and the quiet, persistent struggle begins. By the end of the movement, the piano has managed to turn the anger of the string section. Finally they simply listen as the soloist is left to complete the story.

Now that it has the floor, the piano glides uninterrupted into the third movement, Rondo. In this fast race, Beethoven allows us to think that it's in C major; but keeps it centered around G major. Now, finally at the end with a Presto, do we get to experience the familiar virtuoso feel of a "real" concerto.

Scored for: 1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings. [1222-2200-tmp-str]

Guest Artist

Irena Ravitskaya, piano

Dr. Irena Ravitskaya enjoys a dynamic performing and teaching career that has taken her across Europe and the United States.

Born in Moldova (Former Soviet Union), Irena Ravitskaya began playing the piano at age six and at age nine won the National Competition of Moldova. Irena had her first musical training in her native town, where she attended the State School of Music. At age sixteen, Irena won the Young Artists State Competition, followed by an invitation to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra. Her performances have been broadcast on National Radio and Moldova State Television. She later studied at Moldova State Conservatory where her principal teacher was Alexander Paley.

Immigrating to the U.S. in 1995 opened new opportunities for Irena. Irena received her Doctor of Music degree in Piano Performance with Luba Edlina-Dubinsky, a member of world famous Borodin Trio, at Indiana University and her Master of Music degree with Del Parkinson at Boise State University. Irena also studied chamber music with Vladimir Spivakov, Nelli Shkolnikova, James Campbell, Paul Biss, and Miriam Fried.

Irena's repertoire encompasses works from Baroque to Modern, with a particular interest in the music of Beethoven, Chopin, and Russian composers. Orchestral engagements include Moldova State Philharmonic, Moldova National Orchestra, Boise State Symphony Orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and Indiana University Symphony Orchestra. Aside from extensive solo engagements, she is in high demand as a chamber and vocal collaborator. Among Irena's chamber engagements are Edwin V. Lacy, Yuval Gotlibovich, Ilya and Olga Kaler, and Ian Clark. Irena's secondary area of interest is music history. Her doctoral dissertation on Shostakovich's works composed between 1930 and 1936 is undergoing final preparations for publishing. A highly sought-after lecturer, Irena has given numerous lectures and presentations on such subjects as Beethoven's late quartets, Brahms's piano trios, Russian piano music, Shostakovich, quotation in music, and etc.

Dr. Ravitskaya taught on the faculties at Indiana University and Boise State University. Currently, she is Assistant Professor of Music at Fort Hays State University.

Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

I. Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
II. Andante cantabile con moto
III. Menuetto: Allegro molto e vivace
IV. Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace

Written In: 1795-1800
First Performed: Imperial Theatre in Vienna - April 2, 1800

Brahms once remarked to a friend, "I shall never write a symphony. You have no idea how the likes of us feel when we hear the tramp of a giant like him behind us." By "him" Brahms meant Beethoven. He was twenty-one when he first heard Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and it took him twenty-two years to summon the courage to finish his first symphony, often referred to as "Beethoven's Tenth". He set his mark with a powerful, drumbeat opening with his First.

Beethoven, not so much. He had a legacy to overcome as well, following after Mozart with more than forty symphonies and his teacher, Haydn, with over one hundred. He even dedicated his first symphonic effort to Baron Gottfried van Swieten, a close friend of the two composers. But much like the Piano concerto No. 4, he made his mark his own way.

The first movement opens not with powerful chords, or flashy rhythms. His symphony in C major opens gently with a C7th chord followed by F. "I'm - done...", "The - end..." The opening 12 bars continue on with a number of false turns and misleading if not deceptive cadences, nothing in itself different from what had been put forth by his predecessors, but just not here, to open a symphony. Finally in bar 13 we find ourselves in C major, and a slightly more comfortable environment. The Allegro con brio takes us on into a familiar sounding first movement, with sudden changes in dynamics, switching back and forth from repeated staccato notes to longer flowing phrases.

The second movement, Andante cantabile con moto, is almost a minuet you would expect in the third movement. It's light, in a sonata form beginning with a court-like statement in the violins, and taken up by the other strings in a fugal way.

The third movement, a minuet and trio, is actually a fast paced scherzo, but it's doubtful anyone could dance to its rapid fire melodies. Over time, Beethoven gravitated to faster scherzos instead of the more courtly dances, which had little or no place in this new century.

The fourth movement opens as unexpectedly as the first. After a unison G (Adagio), the violins begin an upward rise, just a few notes. They regroup, several times, adding a few more notes in a slightly different rhythm each time, more, and more, until they finally manage a full octave directly into the Allegro that moves its way fully throughout the rest of the movement, ending in a very powerful finale expected from the composer.

Beethoven had made his mark. He'd done all that was expected of a young, but already established composer, but he'd done it all in a different way. He'd changed things. And it paid off. His first symphony was well received, and his critics complimented the work on its originality.

Scored for: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings. [2222-2200-tmp-str]

Bruce Williams, viola
Guest Artist-in-Residence

Bruce Williams, viola.  Guest Artist-in-Residence

Bruce Williams began his professional career at age sixteen and three years later won a position with the Fort Worth Symphony. He then traveled to Israel to become principal violist in the Haifa Symphony and a member of the Haifa Clarinet Trio, performing all over Israel and Europe. Upon returning to the United States, he became a member of The Orchestra of Santa Fe as assistant principal. During that time, he was in great demand as a free-lance player, traveling all over Texas performing with various musical organizations. Currently Bruce is the principal violist in The Victoria Bach Festival and the Austin Symphony and in 2003, he won The Austin Critics' Table award for Outstanding Instrumentalist for his performance with the ASO of "Harold in Italy" by Hector Berlioz. He is also a member of the Allegro Chamber Trio with Flutist Megan Meisenbach and harpist Mary Golden. This group has been touring the United States for years and has been featured on National Public Radio's "Performance Today" and recorded on Centaur records as The Meisenbach / Golden Duo. Bruce also just finished a recording project on the Harmonia Mundi label with the Grammy Award nominated choral group Conspirare conducted by Craig Hella Johnson and featuring the music of the popular young British composer Tarik O'Regan.

Related Links

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)


Piano Links:

Other Links:

  • "Triple Play" (Pittsburg Morning Sun, web posted: Thursday, February 19, 2009)