Composers Datebook

George Perle

George Perle (1915 - 2009) Serenade No. 3 for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1983) Richard Goode, p; Music Today Ensemble; Gerard Schwarz, cond. Nonesuch 79108


Composer's Datebook - May 6, 2021

2:00


May 06, 2021

Synopsis

Today’s date in 1913 marks the birthday of the American composer and musicologist George Perle, who won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1986.

In a 1985 interview, Perle vividly recalled his first musical experience, an encounter with Chopin’s Étude in F minor, played by an aunt. “It literally paralyzed me,” said Perle, “I was extraordinarily moved and acutely embarrassed at the same time, because there were other people in the room, and I could tell that nobody else was having the same sort of reaction I was.”

In his own lyrical and well-crafted music, Perle employed what he called “12-tone tonality,” a middle path between rigorous atonality and traditional, tonal-based music.

Whether tonal or not, for Perle music was both a logical and an emotional language. Perle once made this telling distinction between the English language and the language of music:

“Reading a novel is altogether different from reading a newspaper, but it's all language. If you go to a concert, you have some kind of reaction to it. If the newspaper is Chinese, you can't understand it. But if you hear something by a Chinese composer, if it's playful, for instance, you understand.”

Music Played in Today's Program

George Perle (1915 - 2009) Serenade No. 3 for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1983) Richard Goode, p; Music Today Ensemble; Gerard Schwarz, cond. Nonesuch 79108

On This Day

Births

  • 1915 - American composer George Perle, in Bayonne, N.J.;

  • 1918 - Canadian composer Godfrey Ridout, in Toronto;

Deaths

  • 1667 - (on May 6 or 7) German composer and keyboard player Johann Jakob Froberger, age 50, in Hericourt, nearr Montbeliard , France;

Premieres

  • 1897 - Leoncavallo: opera "La Boheme" in Venice;

  • 1981 - Rautavaara: Double-bass Concerto ("Angel of Dusk"),in Helsinki, with bassist Olli Kosonen and the Finnish Radio Symphony, Leif Segerstam conducting;

  • 1985 - Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: "Concerto for Trumpet and Five Players," by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble;

  • 1992 - Libby Larsen: Symphony No. 3 ("Lyric"), by the Albany Symphony (NY), Joel Revzen conducting;

  • 1999 - Magnus Lindberg: Cello Concerto, by the Orchestre de Paris, with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting and Anssi Karttunen the soloist;

  • 1999 - Christopher Rouse: "Seeing" (Piano Concerto), at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Slatkin, with Emanuel Ax the soloist;

Others

  • 1872 - Theodore Thomas conducts the first concert of the Cincinnati Music Festival ("May Festival"); His program includes Beethoven's Fifth, Handel's "Dettingen Te Deum," a Mozart aria, and a chorus from Haydn's "Creation."