Composers Datebook®

Brahms and Berg on busman holidays?

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) – Symphony No. 2 (Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, cond.) Philips 442 068 Johannes Brahms – Violin Concerto in D (David Oistrakh, vn; ORTF Orchestra; Otto Klemperer, cond.) EMI Classics 64632 Alban Berg (1885-1935) – Violin Concerto (Henryk Szeryng, vn; Bavarian Radio Symphony; Rafael Kubelik, cond.) Deutsche Grammophon 431 740


Composer's Datebook - July 1, 2022

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July 01, 2022

Synopsis

“Where to go for summer vacation?” That’s always been the question for any city-dweller fortunate enough to be able to escape to somewhere cool and green, with perhaps an ocean beach or at least a lake nearby.

In the summers of 1877 and 1878, Johannes Brahms abandoned urban Vienna for the rural Austrian district known as Carinthia and specifically the small town of Pörtschach on Wörthersee. Even today, this is prime vacation territory, with rolling green hills, dark pine trees, bright blue lakes, and the snow-capped Alps along the horizon. And the wildflowers have to be seen to be believed.

We can’t show you all that, but perhaps you can hear a sense of that landscape in the Second Symphony and Violin Concerto of Brahms —two works he composed during his summer holidays there.

In Carinthia, said Brahms, the melodies are so abundant that one had to be careful not to step on them. There just might be something in that, at least with respect to great Violin Concertos. In July of 1935, 57 years after Brahms wrote his Concerto in Pörtschach, the Viennese composer Alban Berg would finish his Violin Concerto in the same town, on the opposite shore of the Wörthersee from where Brahms stayed during his summer vacations. Berg’s Concerto even includes a quote from a risqué Carinthian folksong.

Music Played in Today's Program

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) – Symphony No. 2 (Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, cond.) Philips 442 068

Johannes Brahms – Violin Concerto in D (David Oistrakh, vn; ORTF Orchestra; Otto Klemperer, cond.) EMI Classics 64632

Alban Berg (1885-1935) – Violin Concerto (Henryk Szeryng, vn; Bavarian Radio Symphony; Rafael Kubelik, cond.) Deutsche Grammophon 431 740

On This Day

Births

  • 1926 - Birth of German composer Hans Werner Henze, in Gütersloh, Westphalia

Deaths

  • 1784 - German composer Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, age 73, in Berlin; He was the eldest son of J.S. Bach;

  • 1925 - French composer Erik Satie, age 59, in Paris

Premieres

  • 1716 - Handel: Concerto Grosso in F, Op. 3, no. 4a, in London (Gregorian date: July 12);

  • 1927 - Bela Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 1, in Frankfurt, Wilhelm Fürtwängler conducting, with the composer as soloist

  • 1933 - R. Strauss: opera "Arabella," in Dresden at the Staatsoper, Clemens Krauss conducting, with vocal soloists Viorica Ursuleac (Arabella), Alfred Jerger (Mandryka), Margit Bokor (Zdenka), and Martin Kremer (Matteo);

  • 1937 - Milhaud: "Scaramouche" Suite for Two Pianos, in Paris

  • 1948 - Rawthorne: Violin Concerto, at Cheltenham Festival in England

  • 1984 - Sallinen: opera, "The King Goes Forth to France," in Helsinki

  • 2000 - Diamond: Symphony No. 10, by the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz conducting

  • 2001 - Lazarof: "Legends form the Bible," for chorus, horns and vibes, in Berlin, by the Ars-Nova Ensemble, conducted by Peter Schwarz

Others

  • 1867 - American premiere of Johann Strauss, Jr.'s "Blue Danube" Waltz at a summer concert of the Theodore Thomas Orchestra in New York (less than five months after the work's premiere in Vienna)

  • 1897 - The Music Division of the Library of Congress is founded in Washington, D.C.