Homage to Paderewski

Last updated

Homage to Paderewski is an album of piano pieces by 17 composers, published in 1942 in honour of the Polish pianist, composer and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

Contents

Background

Homage to Paderewski was commissioned by the music publisher Boosey & Hawkes in 1941 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Paderewski's American debut in 1891. It was Zygmunt Stojowski who initiated the venture. He encouraged some composer friends of Paderewski's to write miniatures for the anniversary. However, Paderewski died on 29 June 1941, before the project was completed, and so the album, on its publication in 1942, became a posthumous tribute to his life and work.

Twenty-one composers submitted 22 works, and 17 were chosen for publication. Of these 17 composers, only three were native-born Americans. The remainder had either settled in North America or were working there temporarily (Benjamin Britten and Eugene Goossens were in the United States; Arthur Benjamin was in Canada).

Britten misunderstood the commission and wrote a piece for two pianos. It was published separately but is still considered a part of the overall homage. Béla Bartók did not write a new piece but provided a short suite of three pieces written in 1914–18. Jaromír Weinberger's contribution also seems to have been composed earlier, in 1924. Ernest Schelling, a student of Paderewski, had died in 1939, but his widow submitted a late untitled composition, in the belief that he would have wanted to be involved.

The pieces are all short, none taking more than four minutes to play and some just over one minute.

The premiere recording of the complete work was made in 2011 by Jonathan Plowright, with Aaron Shorr in the Britten piece.

The music

ComposerNationalityDatesTitleNotes
Béla Bartók Hungarian1881 1945Three Hungarian Folk-Tunes, Sz.66(1. Andante tranquillo, rubato; 2. Allegro non troppo, un poco rubato; 3. Maestoso.) Bartók was living in the US and hoped to return to his native Hungary at war's end, but died in New York City. These pieces dating from 1914 to 1918 take about a minute each and contain typically Hungarian characteristics such as modal melodies based on the Mixolydian and Dorian scales; and frequent melodic leaps of the fourth. It is hard to see how Bartók felt them to be relevant to the life and work of a Polish statesman and patriot.
Arthur Benjamin Australian1893 1960Elegiac MazurkaBenjamin had long been based in London but was currently working in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he was the conductor of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Symphony Orchestra. The mazurka is a traditional Polish dance.
Benjamin Britten British1913 1976Mazurka elegiaca, Op. 23/2, for 2 pianosBritten misunderstood the commission and composed a work for two pianos. It was published separately. It was the second of two pieces within his Op. 23, the first being Introduction and Rondo alla burlesca (1940).
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Italian1895 1968Hommage à PaderewskiCastelnuovo-Tedesco settled in California and became known as a film composer. Hommage à Paderewski is in the style of a mazurka.
Theodore Chanler American1902 1961Aftermath
Eugene Goossens British1892 1962HomageGoossens was working as conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Homage is based on Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 in C minor (the "Chord Prelude")
Richard Hammond British1896 1980DanceHammond moved to the US during World War I, settling in Los Angeles. Dance is a rhythmic and exuberant work in mixed metres.
Felix Labunski Polish1892 1979 [1] ThrenodyLabunski migrated to America in 1936 and settled in Cincinnati. In 1928 Paderewski had funded the remainder of his studies in Paris with Paul Dukas and Nadia Boulanger. Labunski also dedicated a symphonic poem In memoriam to Paderewski.
Bohuslav Martinů Czech1890 1959Mazurka, H. 284Martinů arrived in America in 1941 and settled in New York, but returned to Europe in 1956. The Mazurka is in ABA form with the outer sections marked Moderato poco andante and the middle section marked Poco vivo.
Darius Milhaud French1892 1974ChoralMilhaud moved to the United States in 1940. Choral is in 5
4
time and the two hands play in different keys.
Joaquín Nin-Culmell Cuban1908 2004In memoriam PaderewskiNin-Culmell was born in Berlin of Cuban ancestry and moved to the United States in 1939. In Memoriam Paderewski is a mazurka, albeit with a Latin American flavour achieved through the use of syncopation in the latter half – the right hand plays in 3
4
while the left hand plays in 6
8
.
Karol Rathaus German1895 1954KujawiakRathaus was born in an area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire now in Ukraine. He trained in Berlin and Vienna, relocating to New York in 1938. The Kujawiak is a Polish dance in triple metre.
Vittorio Rieti Italian1898 1994Allegro danzanteRieti migrated to the United States in 1940 and settled in New York. The two-handed octaves in his piece evoke the spirit of Paderewski's own Caprice from his Humoresques de concert, Op 14.
Ernest Schelling American1876 1939Con tenerezzaSchelling was a student of Paderewski, who was greatly affected by his death in 1939. Schelling's widow submitted her husband's last composition, knowing that he would have wanted to share in any tribute to his mentor. In 1926 Schelling had written a nocturne titled Ragusa, dedicated "To my master, I. J. Paderewski". The dedicatee later recorded the piece himself.
Zygmunt Stojowski Polish1870 1946Cradle SongStojowski also studied with Paderewski. He moved to New York in 1905 to be on the founding faculty of the Institute of Musical Art. Cradle Song is a Spanish-American berceuse based on the lullaby Alarroro rito, which Stojowski learned from his Peruvian wife Luisa, whom he had met through Paderewski.
Jaromír Weinberger Czech1896 1967Étude in G majorWeinberger migrated to America in 1939. His Étude in G major, written in 1924, [2] is based on Z dymem pozarów (From the smoke of fires), a 19th-century Polish patriotic hymn. The same melody was used by Sir Edward Elgar in his symphonic prelude Polonia , dedicated to Paderewski during World War I.
Emerson Whithorne American1884 1958Hommage, Op. 58/2Whithorne studied piano in Europe with Paderewski's teacher Theodor Leschetizky. Most of Hommage is written on four staves, and marked Lento.

Related Research Articles

Virgil Thomson American composer and critic (1896–1989)

Virgil Thomson was an American composer and critic. He was instrumental in the development of the "American Sound" in classical music. He has been described as a modernist, a neoromantic, a neoclassicist, and a composer of "an Olympian blend of humanity and detachment" whose "expressive voice was always carefully muted" until his late opera Lord Byron which, in contrast to all his previous work, exhibited an emotional content that rises to "moments of real passion".

Arthur Benjamin Australian composer, pianist, conductor and teacher

Arthur Leslie Benjamin was an Australian composer, pianist, conductor and teacher. He is best known as the composer of Jamaican Rumba (1938) and of the Storm Clouds Cantata, featured in both versions of the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man who Knew Too Much, in 1934 and 1956.

Boosey & Hawkes is a British music publisher purported to be the largest specialist classical music publisher in the world. Until 2003, it was also a major manufacturer of brass, string and woodwind musical instruments.

Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20, for orchestra is a symphony written by Benjamin Britten in 1940 at the age of 26. It was one of several works commissioned from different composers by the Japanese government to mark Emperor Jimmu's 2600th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese government rejected the Sinfonia for its use of Latin titles from the Catholic Requiem for its three movements and for its somber overall character, but it was received positively at its world premiere in New York on 29 March 1941 under John Barbirolli. A performance in Boston under Serge Koussevitzky led to the commission of the opera Peter Grimes from the Koussevitzky Music Foundations.

<i>Rejoice in the Lamb</i> 1943 cantata by Benjamin Britten

Rejoice in the Lamb is a cantata for four soloists, SATB choir and organ composed by Benjamin Britten in 1943 and uses text from the poem Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart (1722–1771). The poem, written while Smart was in an asylum, depicts idiosyncratic praise and worship of God by different things including animals, letters of the alphabet and musical instruments. Britten was introduced to the poem by W. H. Auden whilst visiting the United States, selecting 48 lines of the poem to set to music with the assistance of Edward Sackville-West. The cantata was commissioned by the Reverend Walter Hussey for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the consecration of St Matthew's Church, Northampton. Critics praised the work for its uniqueness and creative handling of the text. Rejoice in the Lamb has been arranged for chorus, solos and orchestral accompaniment, and for SSAA choir and organ.

Christopher Norton was born in New Zealand and is a British pianist and composer. Norton obtained a in Wellington high schools, worked as a composer-in-schools for a year, and then freelanced as a composer, arranger and pianist.

The Prince of the Pagodas is a ballet created for The Royal Ballet by choreographer John Cranko with music commissioned from Benjamin Britten. Its premiere took place on 1 January 1957 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, conducted by Britten.

In classical music, it is relatively rare for a work to be written in collaboration by multiple composers. This contrasts with popular music, where it is common for more than one person to contribute to the music for a song. Nevertheless, there are instances of collaborative classical music compositions.

Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10, is a work for string orchestra by Benjamin Britten. It was written in 1937 at the request of Boyd Neel, who conducted his orchestra at the premiere of the work at that year's Salzburg Festival. It was the work that brought Britten to international attention.

Benjamin Britten's Piano Concerto, Op. 13, is the composer's sole piano concerto.

<i>Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria</i> Solo organ composed by Benjamin Britten

Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria is a work for solo organ composed by Benjamin Britten in 1946. It was commissioned for St Matthew's Church, Northampton and first performed on 21 September 1946, St Matthew's Day, three days after its composition. It uses a theme from a motet by the Spanish composer Vittoria, both in the prelude and as the basis for the fugue. The piece, which lasts about five minutes in performance, has had a mixed reception. One writer has noted the difficulty on finding a suitable organ on which to perform the piece, given the difficulties in finding appropriate registration to meet Britten's requirements. A reviewer of a concert performance in the 1960s called it "a contrived attempt to make bricks without straw", although other commentators have been more favourable about the piece.

<i>Danzón cubano</i> 1942 piano composition by American composer Aaron Copland

Danzón cubano is a composition for two pianos by American composer Aaron Copland. The piece, written in 1942, was inspired by the Cuban genre of the same name. It was first arranged for orchestra in 1946.

Four Piano Blues Collection of pieces for piano by American composer Aaron Copland

Four Piano Blues is a collection of pieces for piano by American composer Aaron Copland. The collection was composed between 1926 and 1948.

Britten's Purcell Realizations is a common name for compositions for voice and piano by Benjamin Britten which are arrangements of works by Henry Purcell. Boosey & Hawkes published 45 of them, titled The Purcell Collection – Realizations by Benjamin Britten. A recording of 40 of them, Purcell Songs Realised by Britten, was released in 2016.

<i>A Hymn of St Columba</i>

A Hymn of St Columba is a composition for choir and organ by Benjamin Britten, written in 1962. He set a hymn in Latin by Saint Columba, the founder of Iona Abbey, to music. It was published by Boosey & Hawkes.

<i>Nine Little Piano Pieces</i> Hungarian piano composition

Nine Little Piano Pieces, Sz. 82, BB 90 is a collection of short pieces for piano by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. It was completed in 1926.

<i>Five Anniversaries</i> Collection of piano pieces by Leonard Bernstein

Five Anniversaries is a set of short pieces for piano by American composer Leonard Bernstein and the third installment in the series of Anniversaries for piano. It was composed between 1949 and 1951. It is known for presenting some of the musical ideas that were later developed in other works.

<i>Soirées musicales</i>

Soirées musicales,, Op. 9, is a suite of five movements by Benjamin Britten, using music composed by Gioachino Rossini. The suite, first performed in 1937, derives its title from Rossini's collection of the same name, dating from the early 1830s, from which Britten drew much of the thematic material.

Four Sabras is a short composition for solo piano by American composer Leonard Bernstein. Each Sabra refers to vignettes or portraits of different fictitious Israeli children.

References

  1. Cincinnati Libraries. Retrieved 16 April 2014
  2. Orel Foundation. Retrieved 16 April 2014

Sources