The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum Honored by True West Magazine
Hundreds of museums celebrate the American West (including more than a few east of the Mississippi). ButTrue West magazine says The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum is one of the best.
The entire list of best museums is in True West's September 2017 issue, on newsstands now.
"Mark Twain is one of the most important chronicler of the development of the West," says True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. "The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum does a great job of showing his life and his work. It's truly a great Western museum."
Two-time Spur Award-winning writer Candy Moulton and the editors of True West selected the winners for this annual award based on extensive travels, research and firsthand experiences in visiting dozens of Western museums each year.
Moulton cited the museum for its size and scope, including five buildings and two museums that display personal items from Twain's life as well as a number of exhibits of his times and works.
True West Magazine's Top 10 Western Museums includes:
10. The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Hannibal, MO9. Cultural Heritage Center, Pierre, SD
8. Silver City Museum, Silver City, NM
7. Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, Tombstone, AZ
6. Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX
5. Old Cowtown, Wichita, KS
4. The Brinton Museum, Big Horn, WY
3. Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West, Scottsdale, AZ
2. The Witte Museum, San Antonio, TX
1. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY
The True West museum feature lists other institutions of note--including regional standouts--and the "Best Western Art Museums," led by the Sid Richardson Museum in Fort Worth, TX.
True West magazine is in its 65th year of leading the way in presenting the true stories of Old West adventure, history, culture and preservation.
Museum Nominated by USA Today
USA Today 10Best announced The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum as one of the twenty candidates selected as nominees in their USA Today 10Best Attractions in Missouri award.
Online voting, by the public, will determine the Top 10Best Missouri attractions by USA Today's travel edition. Visitors on the 10Best website can cast one vote per attraction per day.
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum is in some good company with other attractions from around the Show-Me State including the Gateway Arch and City Museum in Saint Louis, Branson's Entertainment District, Harry S. Truman Library and Museum and Meramec Caverns.
The Best Missouri Attraction contest writers note, "One of the most populated states in the Great Plains, Missouri has it all - big city attractions in St. Louis and Kansas City and wild, open places like the rolling Ozark Mountains."
Voting ends at noon, Monday, Aug. 28.
Friends of the Log Cabins are raising funds to restore and rebuild the Fraser Log Cabin on a new foundation, which will be above the 100 year flood level. The cabin is a former stagecoach stop. Your help is needed to reach the goal of $40,000.
Gift cards and baskets will be raffled off in a drawing for prizes on Saturday, September 9 at the end of Frontier Settlement Day at the Log Cabin Village. Raffle tickets are $1 each or six or $5. Download the raffle ticket here. Tickets and donation can be mailed to: Friends of the Log Cabins, P.O. Box 3122, Quincy, IL 62305 or can be dropped off Saturday, Sept. 9 during Frontier Settlement Day. You do not need to be present to win.
During the Friends of the Log Cabins 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting in May, 2017, Terry Mitten was named Volunteer of the Year. Mitten is a board member and consistently volunteers for work days and events at the Village as well as donates souvenirs he has made out of wood and brings new ideas to promote the village.
Upcoming workdays in the village are scheduled for August 19 and September 2. Plans are to finish the work on the Fraser Log Cabin Foundation and continue work on the Log Corn Crib in August. September 2 will be a clean-up day to prepare the village for Frontier Settlement Day on September 9.
For any of the three workdays, no previous experience is necessary, just a willingness to help restore these unique historic structures. No need to call ahead, just show up ready to help.
The Lincoln-era Log Cabin Village is located on Quinsippi Island, accessed via All America Park.
For those interested in seeing these historic structures, the Village is open to view every day from dawn to dusk. For more information on tours and events email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the past, Quincy’s position as a river and rail town, bursting with hard workers and frequent riverboat or railroad visitors, resulted in a small metropolis offering the proverbial “tavern on every corner.” The Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County will indulge history lovers in saloon and tavern lore during its final Summer City Trolley Tour on Saturday, August 5.
From approximately Twelfth Street, west to the river, there are signs of current or former neighborhood taverns on many, many corners. Saloons were as much an important element of the neighborhood as the church and grocery store. The downtown area was not lacking saloons, although some of these doubled as ‘hotels,’ offering overnight stays for 12 cents. Others were adjacent to entertainment sites or resorts. One downtown tavern is purported to have been visited by Abraham Lincoln and plenty were “men only” establishments.
Many of these taverns were housed in buildings indistinguishable from the neighboring houses, except for possible signage. Saloon keepers often lived behind the tavern or upstairs and their children worked at the family business at a young age. In many instances, Quincy and Adams County taverns were owned and operated by the same family for generations.
Quincy tavern history and lore can be divided into four time periods: 1800s until Prohibition, Prohibition, post-Prohibition to World War II, and after World War II. The tour will visit sites from each time period. At multiple sites on the trolley excursion, tour-goers can “belly up to the bar,” with an option to order their favorite beverage on their own dime. All tour-goers must be at least 21 years of age.
Seating for this popular event is limited. Tickets are $25 each for the approximately three hour tour. The tour departs at 1 pm from the History Museum. Prior trolley events have sold out, so call the History Museum at 217-222-1835 for availability.
Being Mortal, the best-selling book by Atul Gawande, will be the focus of two events at Quincy Public Library.
A PBS Frontline documentary based on the book will be shown on Monday, July 24 at 1 pm and 5 pm. On Wednesday, July 26 at 4 pm, geriatrician Dave Lockhart, M.D. will lead a discussion about the ideas presented in the book. Both events are free and open to the public, although reservations are requested.
In Being Mortal, Gawande, a practicing surgeon, shows that the ultimate goal of health care should be “not a good death, but a good life – all the way to the very end.” He shares stories from people who show how to have the hard conversations in order to ensure that what people really care about is not sacrificed.
According to the New York Times, the book is a “call for a change in the philosophy of health care, to enable well-being, rather than ensuring health and survival. The book is a call to commit ourselves to creating better options and making choices with the goal of a purposeful life in mind.”
Reservations may be made at quincylibrary.org, or by calling Quincy Public Library at 217-223-1309.
The mission of the Quincy Public Library is to provide its patrons with materials, facilities and programs to meet lifelong learning, cultural and recreational needs.
The Great River Genealogical Society is very honored to be able to bring “A Day of German Research Instruction” to the Quincy Public Library on Saturday, September 30, 2017, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CGSM will lead an all-day Lecture Series entitled A Day of German Research Instruction. Topics include:
9:00 – 10:00 am: Oh Where, Oh Where are My Ancestors From?
10:30 – 11:30am: Hunting For Henry: A Case Study Using Collaterals
Lunch break: 11:30am-1:00pm
1:00 – 2:00pm: Untangle the Web of Germanic Websites
2:30 – 3:30pm: Demystify Ancestry and FamilySearch
Cost: GRGS member: $30 – Non-GRGS member: $35 – Register before midnight September 20, 2017 – Seating is Limited – Register Early
Register after September 20, 2017: $40
Box Lunch optional: $10 Direct questions to (573) 221-9132 or email email@example.com
Registration forms may be picked up in the Illinois Room at the Quincy Public Library, 526 Jersey, Quincy or can be downloaded here and mailed to: Great River Genealogical Society, c/o Quincy Public Library, 526 Jersey, Quincy , IL 62301-3927..
Quincy Preserves recently awarded two $1,000 scholarships at its annual membership picnic held Tuesday, June 20 at the Lincoln-era Log Cabin Village on Quinsippi Island.
The 2017 Quincy Preserves Scholarship recipients are:
Ginny Steinkamp (left) graduated from Quincy Notre Dame. Her parents are Dale and Wendy Steinkamp. She will be attending Benedictine College (KS) majoring in Theology/Psychology.
Grace Ruxlow, (right) graduated from Quincy High School. Her parents are Kai and Jill Ruxlow. She will be attending Southern Illinois University majoring in Microbiology.
Two scholarships, $1000 each, are awarded to eligible Adams County Seniors. Scholarship information goes out to senior high counselors in October. Interested seniors could contact their guidance counselor and/or Quincy Preserves for information to apply for 2018 scholarships.
For more information about Quincy Preserves or becoming a member, go to quincypreserves.org or facebook.com/QuincyPreserves.
Quincy Community Theatre (QCT) has expanded its theatrical education program to include more courses over the summer! This will create additional opportunities for children, teens, and adults to engage with theatre in new ways.
“Our summer classes are a wonderful way for children and adults to try something new and engage with our theatre in a new way,” said Head of Education Instructor Kelsey Celek. “Newcomers and seasoned veterans alike will find new adventures within our expanded summer program!”
Each course is designed to give people of all ages a safe space to explore different topics, refine their acting training and technique, enhance their interpersonal and public speaking skills, gain confidence, meet other creative individuals, and try something new!
Tuition information is available online or at the QCT Box Office. Scholarships are available. Applications can be found online at 1qct.org/education/scholarships or at the QCT Box Office.
A program using volunteer work at the theatre to pay for classes or earn theatre tickets is also available for parents and students ages 10+. For more information, visit 1qct.org/education/class-punch-cards/.
For more information about the classes or to register online, visit 1qct.org or call 217-222-3209.
Art Camps All Ages
Register for Quincy Art Center’s Summer Art Camp before classes fill up! Classes such as Action Painting, Art Meets Science and Introduction to Theatre Design will help kids to create, imagine, and learn!
Art classes are a great way to get kids off the couch and get them engaged and learning while also having fun. Students will express their creativity and meet other students that are interested in the same things as they are!
Classes start June 12 for Pre–K through 8th grade and meet Monday through Thursday. New sessions begin each week. Morning sessions run from 9–11 am and afternoon sessions meet from 1–4 pm.
To ensure the best possible experience for your child, class sizes are capped at 10 students. Classes fill up fast so register your child today by calling 217-223-5900, visiting quincyartcenter.org/education, or visit the Quincy Art Center at 1515 Jersey.
Members receive a $5 discount on each class. Scholarships are available. Email Steven Stoll, Art Education Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
American Girl Classes
The Quincy Museum is proud to announce the 2017 Elizabeth Newcomb-Stillwell’s Classes for Young Ladies!
All of these summer classes allow girls to create foods and crafts from the times and places represented by the American Girl series of dolls.
Weekly classes are scheduled in both June and July. A new set of classes begin June 19, June 26, July 10 and July 17.
All classes will be held from 10 am until 12 pm and will include a special party for girls and their guests each Friday.
Call Quincy Museum at 217-224-7669, or visit thequincymuseum.org or the museum’s Facebook page for more information.
The Bridge to the Future Can Be Built with Books!
Quincy Public Library’s (QPL) Summer Reading Program, Reading by Design, is underway! QPL will host exciting summer reading events during June and July for all ages. In addition to story times on Tuesdays and Thursdays, young readers will enjoy these fun activities:
Teens can read and win prizes, too! Activities for teens include movies with free popcorn and soda, a teen poetry challenge to honor the Pulitzer-prize winning Gwendolyn Brooks, a t-shirt workshop, as well as the regular Wii Wednesdays, TAB meetings, and book discussion groups.
Adults will enjoy programs including a poetry reading featuring author Gwendolyn Brooks, tours of the Quincy Community Theatre, a steampunk jewelry workshop, and a discussion of the book Being Mortal with geriatrician Dr. David Lockhart. Reading logs and prizes are available for adults too, so the whole family can be engaged with the summer reading fun!
This year, it’s even easier for kids and teens to get to the library to participate. Readers under the age of 18 may ride Quincy Transit Lines city buses to the library for free when they show a valid QPL card. (Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a guardian.) Free bus rides to the library will be available all summer from June 1 to August 30.
Summer reading events are free and open to the public, but reservations are requested in order to ensure adequate materials and space is available. Reservations can be made at the library or online at quincylibrary.org.
ENCORE! the Volunteer Council of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of music camp scholarships. The five scholarship recipients attending music camps this summer are:
Jacob Bross, son of Mark and Lisa Bross of Hannibal, is a ninth-grade student at Hannibal High School. He will be studying percussion at the UMKC Jazz Camp in Kansas City, Missouri.
Lorral Kanauss, daughter of Alan and Lorri Kanauss of Quincy, is an eleventh-grade student at Quincy Senior High School. She will be studying oboe and voice at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan.
Ella Terwelp, daughter of Mark and Johnna Terwelp of Quincy, is an eighth-grade student at Blessed Sacrament. She will be studying voice at Western Illinois University Junior High Choir Camp in Macomb.
Katie Vogler, daughter of Larry and Cheryl Vogler of Quincy, is an eleventh-grade student at Quincy Senior High School. She will be studying oboe at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan.
Rebecca Walker, daughter of Craig and Amy Walker of Quincy, is an eleventh-grade student at Payson-Seymour High School. She will be studying voice at Illinois Summer Youth Music, at the University of Illinois, Urbana.
This is the sixty-second year these music camp scholarships have been awarded to deserving students throughout the local area. These scholarships were funded by the “Battle for the Baton”, “Fairy Tale Tea” and “Beat Beethoven 5k” events sponsored by Encore!
Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association’s Volunteer Organization, Encore! Symphony Volunteer Council, provides volunteer support at concerts, and sponsors fundraisers to benefit the Symphony and music education in general. While the majority of the proceeds directly support the performing and educational programs of the QSOA, Encore also awards approximately $3,500 in music camp scholarships and performance scholarships each year as well as provides financial support for music education at Quincy’s two high schools.
For more information about membership in Encore! email Stacie Spradlin at email@example.com or visit qsoa.org.
The soulful sound of blues will usher in summer as Blues in the District celebrates its 20th Anniversary! The shows are held in Washington Park from 5:30–9:30 pm every second and fourth Friday of June, July and August. This popular event allows the young and old alike to spend a beautiful evening in downtown Quincy listening to great, live blues music!
The concerts are FREE and patrons can bring food and drink. Food and desserts will also be available for purchase from Butcher Block, TCBY and Spoonwave at each concert.
2017 Summer Schedule
June 9: Hurricane Ruth
June 23: Catfish Willie Band
July 14: Big Al and the Heavyweights
July 28: Matt Roberts Blues Band
Aug. 11: Tim Budig Band
Aug. 25: The Green McDonough Band
Visit thedistrictquincy.com for more information about Blues in the District, including cancellations or changes.
The following are descriptions of each band that will be playing!
June 9 Hurricane RuthLaMaster earned her “Hurricane” nickname because people had difficulty believing that her powerhouse vocals could be coming out of such a small woman. Ruth grew up in Beardstown, IL. Her father’s Glendale Tavern was her music school. “The bar featured live blues, jazz, and all kinds of music. My dad was a drummer. At age three, I was sitting on his lap keeping time on the ride cymbal, while he played, during Sunday jam sessions” LaMaster said.
LaMaster has performed with John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Taj Mahal, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Sam & Dave, Fenton Robinson, Maynard Ferguson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Royal Southern Brotherhood, and Ronnie Baker Brooks. Her vocals are deeply rooted in traditional blues, but she can also rock the house. LaMaster has opened for Heart, Judas Priest, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, and Steppenwolf, to name a few.
Blues great, Willie Dixon, once called her “the only hurricane I can appreciate.” She’s got the power of Big Mama Thornton, the fire of Janis Joplin, the boundless stage energy of Tina Turner, and soulfulness of Aretha Franklin all rolled into a petite package.
June 23 Catfish Willie BandCatfish got his first guitar on Christmas day in 1978. It was a Les Paul Jr. copy out of a catalogue. Mr. Ralph, Catfish’s childhood neighbor, got a bass on his birthday in October of the following year. They actually took lessons from two brothers. Their other neighborhood buddy, Mike, got some drums the next Christmas and that night was the first rehearsal. Noises were made that would clear any room in seconds. By the summer of 1981 a new kid with a set of drums moved to the hood named Joe Fox and the world got a preview of ¾ of the Catfish Willie Band 22 years early! This lasted until the spring of ’82 when Ralph and Joe separated from Catfish. Shortly after that Catfish played his first live gigs at the end of his freshman year in high school with a different band. Lots of parties were played over the next 3 years and bar gigs started at 19 years old. The 3 got together again in 1985 along with Joe’s brother Jim and another guy to form “Jon Do”.
Catfish left them in 1986 and they continued for years on their own eventually changing names to “Simple Simon” which lasted until the early ‘90’s. Catfish, in the mean time, traveled the drag racing circuit all over the country as a Pro Mod crewman through 1990. Back to music in ’91, Catfish played mostly in Northern Missouri, Illinois and Iowa .
This was tough early on but the band grew into it and it molded excellent musicianship. This was when Catfish played his first HUGE shows. The first big one being the opening slot for the Scorpions at Riverport Amphitheatre in St. Louis in front of nearly 20,000! This same time period is when Catfish met his future wife and band mate Sweet T.
In January of 2000, Catfish decided to leave the music biz. He sold 90% of his gear and found a “regular job”. This lasted 3 years and by spring of ’03 he had formed an early version of the current band. It started out acoustic with just Catfish and Sweet T. Mr. Ralph was added next and it was acoustic guitar and bass with maracas and 3-part harmonies. Joe Fox came in next on drums with Catfish switching to electric guitar. Then by ’05, Sweet T brought her years of playing acoustic piano into the band with the addition of a stage piano. At that point the “Catfish Willie Band” was truly born. The band played constantly and by ’07 released the “Cash Money” C.D.
Now Catfish Willie is ready to take on a new year with a whole arsenal of fresh Southern Rock-n-Blues and a "Let's Party" attitude!
July 14 Big Al and the Heavyweights
Big Al and The Heavyweights began in 1992 as the Unknown Blues Band with founding members Warren Haynes and Al Lauro. The two met performing in country outlaw, David Allan Coe’s Band. They quickly found a common interest; their love of music, especially the blues. Soon they put together the U.B.B and began performing at small clubs and festivals. The band began getting notoriety for their lengthy sets and their ability to fuse their many musical influences into a powerful brand of blues.The band started opening for many acts, including B. L. T., which included Dickey Betts, Chuck Leavall, and Butch Trucks.
Dickey Betts was truly inspired by Warren's incredible guitar prowess and soulful vocals and offered him a gig in a band he was putting together. Naturally, Warren took the gig and the rest is history. He went on to become a major force in The Allman Brothers Band in which he currently plays as well as his own band, Gov't Mule. As for Big Al, he had lost an incredible guitarist and vocalist but never a friend. The only thing left to do was to move on and that he did; putting together a new band and landing a record deal with Scott Mullins' Rollin and Tumblin Records to create Big Al and The Heavyweights.
July 28 Matt Roberts Band
Matt Roberts Blues Band prides itself on specializing and delivering “The Blues with Feeling.” There are no limits to the talents of this group of inventive musicians. Two members (Matt Roberts and Shawn Buckner) have been crafting tunes for the past 5 years originating as members of the “King Bees” back in 2006. The band includes newest member Mike Carter (Base Guitar), Shawn Buckner (drums) and guitarist/vocals Matt Roberts. The band is based in Quincy Illinois.
August 11 Tim Budig Band
Raw, rowdy and rough edged, this dynamic four piece band delivers Chicago blues with heart, grit and reckless abandon. Band leader Tim Budig’s song writing captures the emotion, angst and playfulness of the greats he grew up listening to, and seeing perform at the world famous Zoo Bar in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Tim’s songwriting taps into the trials of everyday life, from struggling with money, struggling with love and the occasional bender to blow off steam. He keeps it light hearted, the music is fun loving and done in the spirit of the blues, trying to make good times out of the bad.
They take the traditional blues sound and make it their own, playing it with a sense of togetherness, experience, versatility and energy that sets them apart. Finishing as a semi finalist in the 2017 International Blues Challenge, this band is establishing itself as one of the tightest and most dynamic young blues bands in the world today.
August 25 The Green McDonough Band
The Green McDonough Band combines the creative forces of electrifying blues guitarist Rich McDonough and the tough vocals of singer/songwriter Laura Green. A relatively new quartet on the St. Louis blues scene, The Green McDonough Band was formed in early 2016. They have already released their first album, which was listed as one of Alive Magazine’s Best of 2016 St. Louis Area Blues, Jazz and Crossover Recordings. It was listed by KDHX Radio as one of the top played CDs in 2016. In April and May, 2016, they played a three week European tour.
Since their return, the band has played a variety of local venues and festivals, including the Big Muddy Blues Festival, the Brentwood Concert Series, the Lindenwood Concert Series, the Atomic Blues Festival, the St. Louis Art Fair, the Old Webster Jazz & Blues Festival and the Wildey Theater. The Green McDonough Band was recently nominated for Best Blues Band of 2016 by The Riverfront Times and is the 2016 winner of the St. Louis Blues Society’s Regional International Blues Challenge “Road to Memphis” and were semifinalists at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Their driving rhythm section, featuring Vic Windham on drums and Jonathan Schumacher on bass, backs this power duo, keeping the dance floor pumping with a steady groove. Their music is a mixed bag of blues styles and house rockin’ roots, reflected in both their original music and their fresh yet reverent takes on choice covers. The Green McDonough Band is currently working on their second album, to be released in early 2017.
Symphonie Fantastique is a masterpiece like no other and is the finale of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra’s (QSO) Passions & Reveries season! The concert is at 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 29 in the Quincy Junior High School Morrison Theater. Many different things will be happening during this concert to conclude the season. These include the premiere of a commissioned piece Ignite! by Stephanie Berg. Dr. Dylan Marney, Culver-Stockton College, will be the pianist as the group performs Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1. There will also be an art exhibit by Brenda Beck Fisher displayed in the hallways of Quincy Junior High School and the grand prize winner of the raffle will be drawn. For more information and to buy tickets call the QSO office at 217-222-2856.
The orchestra typically consists of 60-70 musicians. Due to the originality of Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz employs four bassoons, four types of clarinets, double harps, tubas, timpani, large bells, and both cornets and trumpets to lend this score a unique sound.
"QSO is requiring more 15 percent more musicians and more instruments for Symphonie Fantastique. The extra sound coming from the orchestra will fill Morrison Theatre! QSO has even had to rent a brass bell plate tuned to the proper notes from California," according to Jane Polett.
Quincy Symphony Orchestra
Dr. Paul Borg
Our season theme, Passions & Reveries, comes from the title of the first movement of our season's final composition, Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique. And a better representative of those concepts has never been composed. "Passions" also characterizes the other compositions on the program.
We begin with the world premiere of Ignite, commissioned by the QSO and composed by Stephanie Berg, a Missouri native and clarinetist, who creates engaging, new instrumental works. In Berg's words:
Ignite! is an exciting orchestral overture that features a fiery, Celtic-influenced theme that harkens back to my old love of Irish folk music. The piece features contrasting sections that pit small, soloistic passages against the fearsome power of the entire orchestra. Every section of the ensemble is highlighted, with intricate rhythmic passages in the percussion, thunderous storm fronts in the brass, and high-energy, quick-paced passagework in the woodwinds and strings. The piece opens with a solo for piccolo, accompanied by a light and agile percussion motif, and is interspersed with a contrasting theme of large, blocky parallel fifths that is first presented by the low woodwinds. These motives are repeated, increasing in complexity and instrumentation with each repetition, frequently appearing as a modified round, or transformed to become a shimmering texture. The middle section features fanfares from the brass interspersed with sparkling flourishes from the woodwinds and presentations of the opening theme by the strings. A chromatic section featuring the bass instruments propels the piece to the return of opening material, now presented in its most powerful form until the grandiose conclusion.
Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 10
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
On July 25, 1912, Prokofiev performed the premiere of his first piano concerto in Moscow; he was only 21 years old. During his childhood his parents, fairly well-to-do for Russians at the end of the 19th century, encouraged his interest and talent for music. Early on, he composed pieces for piano while he himself was becoming an accomplished pianist. So, the concert's critical success confirmed the abilities of the young composer whose subsequent career was influenced by the political changes of Russia during the first half of the 20th century. Though he became an internationally successful composer, his own death, March 5, 1953 went unnoticed because Josef Stalin died on the same day.
His first piano concerto consists of a single movement, articulated into three distinct sections: Allegro brioso—Andante assai—Allegro scherzando. The technical demands on the soloist are immense, a challenge for any pianist. Yet, the light-hearted moods that an audience experiences belie those difficulties. Engagement, rather, is the mood that Prokofiev evokes with all the delightful pianistic acrobatics. The more somber middle section hints at Prokofiev's ability to create haunting melodic lines that contrast with the exuberance of the faster sections. Prokofiev identified five characteristics of his music: 1) a Classical element, 2) a search for innovation, 3) a motor element (toccata-like), 4) a lyrical element, and 5) the grotesque. In this first piano concerto we hear all, except perhaps the grotesque.
Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
Hector Berlioz was an aspiring young composer during the 1820s. He studied at the Conservatoire in Paris, and earned a trip to Italy by winning the Pris de Rome in 1830. At that time Italian opera was perhaps the most influential musical genre in Europe. Yet, Beethoven's symphonies were also championed in Paris by the conductor Habeneck beginning in 1824. Being challenged like any young, little-known composer, Berlioz created a hybrid composition in 1830. It contains a "kind of" story (opera-like) incorporated into a "symphony" for which he wrote dramatic "descriptions" as explanations for each of the movements. Although precedence for a descriptive symphony existed (Beethoven's 'Pastorale' Symphony No. 6, the most famous of them), Berlioz set a new standard for romantic evocations in symphonic music.
Since Berlioz was not musically trained at a keyboard, as was usual, his musical choices seem freed from the limitations that two hands imposed on other composers. In the Symphonie fantastique this is shown by the extended range of pitches, the rapid contrasts in tempo and dynamics, and the imaginative instrumentation. The use of harps, English horn, E-flat clarinet, ophicleides (tuba), and large church bells was rare in symphonic music of the time. Especially notable is his evocation of thunder (2 sets of timpani) at the end of the third movement; the severed head bouncing down the scaffold steps (plucked strings) at the end of the fourth movement; or the macabre dance combining the idée fixe with the Dies irae from the Requiem Mass.
At the same time Berlioz was establishing his musical credentials, he was fascinated by the theatre. He became enamored with an English actress, Harriet Smithson whose interpretations of Shakespeare inspired Berlioz to a love for serious drama as well as to develop an infatuation with the actress. She became the tacit inspiration for the story of the symphony. Berlioz revised his description of the actions in the symphony several times. The 1858 version follows:
A young musician of morbidly sensitive temperament and fiery imagination poisons himself with opium in a fit of lovesick despair. The dose of the narcotic, too weak to kill him, plunges him into a deep slumber accompanied by the strangest visions, during which his sensations, his emotions, his memories are transformed in his sick mind into musical thoughts and images. The loved one herself has become a melody to him, an idée fixe as it were, that he encounters and hears everywhere.
Part I: Reveries, Passions
He recalls first that soul-sickness, that vague de passions, those depressions, those groundless joys, that he experienced before he first saw his loved one; then the volcanic love that she suddenly inspired in him, his frenzied suffering, his jealous rages, his returns to tenderness, his religious consolations.
Part II: A Ball
He encounters the loved one at a dance in the midst of the tumult of a brilliant party.
Part III: Scene in the Country
One summer evening in the country, he hears two shepherds piping a ranz des naches in dialogue; this pastoral duet, the scenery, the quiet rustling of the tress gently brushed by the wind, the hopes he has recently found some reason to entertain—all concur in affording his heart an unaccustomed calm, and in giving a more cheerful color to his ideas. But she appears again, he feels a tightening in his heart, painful presentiments disturb him—what if she were deceiving him?—One of the shepherds takes up his simple tune again, the other no longer answers, The sun sets—distant sound of thunder—loneliness— silence.
Part IV: March to the Scaffold
He dreams that he has killed his beloved, that he is condemned to death and led to the scaffold. The procession moves forward to the sounds of a march that is now somber and fierce, now brilliant and solemn, in which the muffled sound of heavy steps gives way without transition to the noisiest clamor. At the end, the idée fixe returns for a moment, like a last thought of love interrupted by the final blow.
Part V: Dream of a Witches' Sabbath
He sees himself at the sabbath, in the midst of a frightful troop of ghosts, sorcerers, monsters of every kind, come together for his funeral. Strange noises, groans, bursts of laughter, distant cries which other cries seems to answer. The beloved melody appears again, but it has lost its character of nobility and shyness; it is no more than a dance tune, mean, trivial, and grotesque: is is she, coming to join the sabbath.—A roar of joy at her arrival.—She takes part in the devilish orgy.—Funeral knell, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, sabbath round-dance. The sabbath round and the Dies irae combined.
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