Thursday, April 07, 2011

Blogging Here and There

More there than here, however...

It’s been a busy week at Dr. Dick Central and I hope, later today, to post something here about my impending interview with Peter Bartók, the son of composer Bela Bartók whose six string quartets will be featured in a two-evening series of concerts with Gretna Music at Elizabethtown College’s Leffler Chapel. The Calder Quartet will play three quartets each evening - No.s 1, 3 & 5 on Friday, No.s 2, 4 & 6 on Saturday. I’ve been reading Peter’s biography of his father, appropriately entitled, simply, “My Father,” which he published in 2002. The interview is Friday evening at 6:30 and we will be connecting with Mr. Bartok from his home in Florida by way of Skype!

Meanwhile, I’ve been blogging about Beethoven Violin Sonatas coming up in next Tuesday’s Market Square Concerts' recital at Whitaker Center with violinist Miriam Fried and pianist Jonathan Biss – I feel compelled to mention that program is at 6:00 rather than the usual 8pm, so, no, that is not a typo. There’s some biographical background about the four sonatas they’ll be performing – including a touching portrait of the composer around the time he composed the last of his violin sonatas – as well as some reminiscences about hearing Miriam Fried play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the Harrisburg Symphony in 1984 and hearing Raya Garbousova, one of the great cellists of her generation, play the Dvořák Cello Concerto with the Harrisburg Symphony in 1963 – an important influence in my early musical experience. That makes three generations of this family I will have had the chance to hear here in Harrisburg: Jonathan Biss is Miriam Fried’s son and Raya Garbousova was Miriam Fried’s mother-in-law, therefore Jonathan’s grandmother.

There’s also a preparatory post for the up-coming performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 which the Harrisburg Symphony will be performing under the baton of Stuart Malina on the weekend of April 16th and 17th. I’ll be presenting the pre-concert talk an hour before each concert (assuming I can finish my taxes in time). The post over at the Symphony Blog describes what it was like at the 3rd Symphony’s world premiere in 1902 and includes video excerpts from a performance by Leonard Bernstein with the Vienna Philharmonic dating from the mid’70s.

Last weekend, I was the pre-concert talker for both nights of the Lancaster Guitar Festival with performances by Ernesto Tamayo and Friends and by Czech guitarist Vladislav Blaha. It was great to hear them play and great to see an enthusiastic audience response - especially following the sad news of the Pennsylvania Academy of Music's closing announced a couple of days earlier. This is something I also want to write more about in the near future.

Something else I've wanted to write about is the recent death of composer Lee Hoiby who was a friend and kind of mentor to me over the years. I last saw him when he came to Harrisburg to hear Stuart Malina play his "Sextet for Winds & Piano" with the Dorian Wind Quintet just two years ago. I've managed to post a brief bit about his death over at the Market Square Concerts blog and hopefully will manage a more fitting, more personal tribute to him once the dust settles here.

- Dick Strawser

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