Three Occasions for Orchestra

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Three Occasions for Orchestra is an orchestral triptych by the American composer Elliott Carter. The work was composed from 1986 through 1989 and was first performed at the Royal Festival Hall, London, by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Oliver Knussen on October 5, 1989. [1]

Orchestra large instrumental ensemble

An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which mixes instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as violin, viola, cello, and double bass, as well as brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments, each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.

Elliott Carter American composer

Elliott Cook Carter Jr. was an American composer. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in the 1930s, then returned to the United States. After an early neoclassical phase, he developed a personal harmonic and rhythmic language. His compositions are known and performed throughout the world, and include orchestral, chamber music, solo instrumental, and vocal works. Carter was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Royal Festival Hall concert hall in London, England

The Royal Festival Hall is a 2,900-seat concert, dance and talks venue within Southbank Centre in London. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, not far from Hungerford Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is a Grade I listed building, the first post-war building to become so protected. The London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are resident in the hall.

Contents

Composition

Three Occasions has a duration of roughly 16 minutes and is composed in three movements:

A movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. While individual or selected movements from a composition are sometimes performed separately, a performance of the complete work requires all the movements to be performed in succession. A movement is a section, "a major structural unit perceived as the result of the coincidence of relatively large numbers of structural phenomena".

A unit of a larger work that may stand by itself as a complete composition. Such divisions are usually self-contained. Most often the sequence of movements is arranged fast-slow-fast or in some other order that provides contrast.

  1. A Celebration of Some 100 × 150 Notes
  2. Remembrance
  3. Anniversary

"A Celebration of Some 100 × 150 Notes" was commissioned by the Houston Symphony for the 150th anniversary of the state of Texas. "Remembrance" was composed in memory of the music patron and philanthropist Paul Fromm. "Anniversary" was written for Carter's wife Helen in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. [1]

Houston Symphony symphonic orchestra

The Houston Symphony is a Grammy Award winning orchestra based in Houston, Texas. Since 1966, it has performed at the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Paul Fromm was a Jewish Chicago wine merchant and performing arts patron through the Fromm Music Foundation. The Organum for Paul Fromm was composed by John Harbison in his honor.

Instrumentation

The work is scored for an orchestra comprising three flutes (2nd and 3rd doubling piccolo), two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, two percussionists, piano (doubling celesta), and strings. [1]

Western concert flute transverse woodwind instrument made of metal or wood

The Western concert flute is a transverse (side-blown) woodwind instrument made of metal or wood. It is the most common variant of the flute. A musician who plays the flute is called a flautist, flutist, flute player, or (rarely) fluter.

Piccolo small flute musical instrument

The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The modern piccolo has most of the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written. This gave rise to the name ottavino, which the instrument is called in the scores of Italian composers. It is also called flauto piccolo or flautino.

Oboe musical instrument of the woodwind family

Oboes are a family of double reed woodwind instruments. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range. Oboes are usually made of wood, but there are also oboes made of synthetic materials. A soprano oboe measures roughly 65 cm long, with metal keys, a conical bore and a flared bell. Sound is produced by blowing into the reed at a sufficient air pressure, causing it to vibrate with the air column. The distinctive tone is versatile and has been described as "bright". When oboe is used alone, it is generally taken to mean the treble instrument rather than other instruments of the family, such as the bass oboe, the cor anglais, or oboe d'amore

Reception

Tom Service of The Guardian called it "Carter at his most ebullient and unbuttoned." [2] Reviewing a 2006 performance of the work, he wrote, "For all his avant-garde rigour, Carter's music is definitively American, and in Knussen's performance of the exuberant Three Occasions, there was music of glinting, luminous brilliance, like sunlight playing on the glass and steel of New York's skyscrapers. It is a subtle, modernist poetry which whets the appetite for the rest of the weekend." [3] Likewise, Gramophone said the piece "represents Carter's inclusive late style at something near its best." [4]

Tom Service British classical music presenter and journalist

Tom Service is a British writer, music journalist and television and radio presenter, who has written regularly for The Guardian since 1999 and presented on BBC Radio 3 since 2001. He is a regular presenter of The Proms for Radio 3 and has presented several documentaries on the subject of classical music. Since 2018, he has been Professor of Music at Gresham College.

<i>The Guardian</i> British national daily newspaper

The Guardian is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian, and took its current name in 1959. Along with its sister papers The Observer and The Guardian Weekly, the Guardian is part of the Guardian Media Group, owned by the Scott Trust. The Scott Trust was created in 1936 "to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of the Guardian free from commercial or political interference". The Scott Trust was converted into a limited company in 2008, with a constitution written so as to project the same protections for The Guardian as were originally built into the very structure of the Scott Trust by its creators. Profits are reinvested in journalism rather than to benefit an owner or shareholders.

<i>Gramophone</i> (magazine) UK monthly magazine published in London devoted to classical music, particularly to reviews of recordings

Gramophone is a magazine published monthly in London devoted to classical music, particularly to reviews of recordings. It was founded in 1923 by the Scottish author Compton Mackenzie. It was acquired by Haymarket in 1999. In 2013 the Mark Allen Group became the publisher.

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Oliver Knussen British composer and conductor

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Carter, Elliott (1989). "Three Occasions for Orchestra". Boosey & Hawkes . Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  2. Service, Tom (11 December 2008). "Celebrating a century of Elliott Carter: Elliot Carter's extraordinary longevity is only eclipsed by his staggering, life-enhancing body of work". The Guardian . Retrieved February 13, 2016.Unknown parameter |authorlinks= ignored (help)
  3. Service, Tom (14 January 2006). "Get Carter: The Music of Elliott Carter". The Guardian . Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  4. "Twentieth-Century Orchestral Works: A fascinating survey of the music of the last century, entrusted to some of the most dedicated advocates of modern music". Gramophone . April 2000. Retrieved February 13, 2016.