Houston Symphony Broadcasts

French Favorites With A German Guest

With music by Dukas, Poulenc, and Ravel, as well as Max Bruch’s First Violin Concerto.

On the next Houston Symphony Broadcast, the orchestra presents a concert of mostly French music, with a concerto by German composer Max Bruch making a guest appearance.

If you’ve seen Disney’s Fantasia, then you should be familiar with Paul Dukas’ symphonic poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Hearing this piece might conjure images of a frantic Mickey Mouse, the apprentice in question, attempting to stop an army of bewitched brooms from flooding his master’s sanctum.

You might have heard the Houston Symphony’s performance of Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy from the recent Summer Symphony Nights series, and here is yet another of his works for violin and orchestra: the Concerto No. 1 in G minor with Caroline Goulding as soloist.

Animals have often served as inspirations for composers with pieces like Carnival of the Animals or Peter and the Wolf. Thus it was for Francis Poulenc when he wrote his ballet Les Animaux modèles (Animal Models), which is based on the Fables of Jean de La Fontaine that often featured animals as its characters while teaching poignant lessons about human nature.

Finally, a piece that’s difficult to forget, given that it only has two melodies and a simple, repeating snare drum part throughout its 15 minute runtime. Maurice Ravel’s Bolero is an exercise in orchestration, where the melodic and harmonic material is secondary to the constantly changing colors of the orchestra as its two themes are passed from instrument to instrument. A daunting task for some, but Ravel managed to produce one of the most popular pieces of twentieth century classical music with those parameters!

Tune in for this concert Sunday (9/25) on News 88.7 or Wednesday (9/28) on Houston Public Media Classical at 8 PM.

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