Classical Music

Music In The Making: Folk Songs, Flutes And Felonies

Featuring the works of Percy Grainger, Franz Doppler, David Lang and Samuel Barber!


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On this week’s episode of Music in the Making, Joshua Zinn serves us a selection of music both new and old from the Shepherd and Moores Schools of Music!

Percy Grainger – Molly on the Shore
Moores School Wind Ensemble; David Bertman, conductor
Moores Opera House

Percy Grainger was known for his interest in English folk tunes. However, it is interesting to note that Grainger was born in Australia. Therefore, his interest in folk tunes was not inspired by a love for his homeland. Rather, he became more interested in folk music when he moved to London and developed as a composer. His most famous tune is a “smash up” of two Irish tunes, “Molly on the Shore” and “Temple Hill.” Though originally written for strings, his arrangements of this work for band and orchestra have become the most popular.

Franz Doppler – Paraphrase on La Sonnambula
Leone Buyse and Sergio Pallottelli, flutes; Robert Moeling, piano
Duncan Recital Hall

While it may be hard to find music for virtuosic flute duos, nineteenth century composer Franz Doppler wrote a majority of them. The reason is that both Franz and his younger brother Karl were skilled flautists. With Franz’s music for this ensemble, the two brothers were able to tour throughout Europe, giving concerts of their own works. This particular work is a showpiece arrangement of themes from Vincenzo Bellini’s opera La Sonnambula.

David Lang – cheating, lying, stealing
AURA Contemporary Ensemble: Alexandra Doyle, bass clarinet; Andrew Cavazos, cello; Jessica Myers, piano; Allen Vinson, marimba and percussion; Justin Grubbs, percussion; Zachary Bass, percussion; Alejandro Basulto-Martínez, conductor
Moores Opera House

Photograph of David Lang
Smooth criminal: photograph of David Lang

When David Lang was composing this next piece, he began to wonder about the motivations behind other composers, both past and present. He thought that most composers wrote music to share something they’re proud of, whether it be sensitivity, nobility or great skill. In this work, Lang experimented to see what would happen if a composer wrote a piece capitalizing on their negative qualities. This lead to the work cheating, lying, stealing, which looks at the darker side of music with a confident sense of “swagger.”

Samuel Barber – Violin Concerto
Texas Music Festival Orchestra; Glenn Dicterow, violin; Franz Anton Krager, conductor
Moores Opera House

When it came to writing his violin concerto, Samuel Barber couldn’t catch a break. He traveled to Switzerland in 1939 to begin writing this work for violinist Iso Briselli. However, due to the threat of World War II, he had to return home to finish it there. When he submitted what he had written, Briselli was displeased with the third movement and eventually decided against premiering it. Months later and with no violinist to play his work, Berber put together a private performance with a student violinist and the Curtis Institute Orchestra. Eugene Organdy heard of this new concerto and scheduled a public premiere with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Albert Spalding, which launched the concerto’s international fame.

This episode originally aired Sunday, March 20th, 2016. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical 91.7.