Classical Music

Music In The Making: A Dream Come True

Live the dream with music inspired by the human imagination.


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On this week’s episode, we’re celebrating World Dream Day with music inspired by the human imagination. We’ll explore musical fantasias (a genre free from formal conventions), music inspired by dreams both in the past and the present, and music that simply transports the listener.

Gabriel Fauré: Fantasy for Flute and Piano
Leone Busye and Robert Moeling
Duncan Recital Hall

According to Luis de Milan, a Spanish composer during the Renaissance, a Fantasia was a musical composition whose form and style spring “solely from the fantasy and skill of the author who created it.” From the Renaissance on, composers continually attempted to capture their imaginative flights of fancy, resulting in myriad compositions, some improvisatory in style, others based on preexisting popular tunes, and some highly contrapuntal. Fauré’s Fantasy for Flute and Piano consists of two contrasting sections, a somewhat melancholy Andantino and an agile Allegro which transforms the original material.

Robert Schumann: Traumerei
Anton Nel, piano
Moores Opera House
International Piano Festival

Robert Schumann, on titles
Robert Schumann, on titles

On the subject of his own evocative titles, Robert Schumann said, “Titles for pieces of music, since they again have come into favor in our day, have been censured here and there, and it has been said that ‘good music needs no signpost.' Certainly not, but neither does a title rob it of its value; and the composer, in adding one, at least prevents a complete misunderstanding of the character of his music. What is important is that such a verbal heading should be significant and apt.” This is the case Schumann’s “Traumerei,” or “Dreaming,” from his set of piano pieces, Scenes of Childhood. Though we’ll never know what exactly Schumann was imagining when writing this music, his title certainly hints at the meaning of this short piece.

Bryce Ingmire: Nascent Dream
Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Hong, conductor
Stude Concert Hall

Composed by a recent alumni of the Shepherd School of Music, Bryce Ingmire’s Nascent Dreams, is a modern testament to our fascination with the dream state. The title and work itself refers to, as Ingmire describes, the “dream like quality of the work, the way in which dreams shift in and out of landscapes with little to no warning.”

Felix Mendelssohn : Overture to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra
Stude Concert Hall

Mendelssohn dreams of Oberon and Titania
Mendelssohn dreams of Oberon and Titania

Felix Mendelssohn’s score for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is likely some of the most incidental music ever written, perhaps because of Mendelssohn’s ability to capture the whimsical story. One can imagine the faeries in the ethereal, dancing music of the strings, while the more worldly music reminds us of the parallel story taking place in Athens. Richly evocative, Mendelssohn’s music transports the listener to another realm, just as Shakespeare had intended.

Franz Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy
Jon Kimura Parker
Duncan Recital Hall

Schubert pondering the "Wanderer Fantasy"
Schubert pondering the “Wanderer Fantasy”

For our final piece, we return to the concept of “Fantasy.” In the Romantic era, composers viewed the Fantasia as an opportunity for freedom. Unconfined by structures or forms, Fantasias were an outlet for large-scale works, both in terms of emotional content and thematic material. Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy is one such work. The Fantasy consists of four distinct yet unbroken sections, and is one of the most technically demanding pieces in the piano repertory. Derived from a lied published only one year earlier, the Fantasy allowed Schubert to expand and extemporize on this material without limits.

This episode originally aired Sunday, September 25th, 2016. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.

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