Friday, July 6
For every person who has actually seen a production of Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” there are thousands more who could recognize or even or sing a phrase or two of its hit tunes.
In the 18th century, the same could be said of the operas of Mozart—in Prague they were so popular that their tunes were arranged for small wind bands to play on street corners so musicians could collect the 18th century equivalent of a buck or two tossed into an open instrument case.
Now, as famous as the contemporary opera composer Aulis Sallinen might be in his native Finland, we doubt the same motivation was at work in the minds of the Foundation for Sport and the Arts of Manchester, England, and the College Band Directors National Association of the United States when they commissioned Sallinen to write a piece for wind band. Sallinen did, however, craft the new work based on tunes from his satirical opera “The Palace.”
The premiere of Sallinen’s “Palace Rhapsody” was given by the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra at the Cheltenham Festival in the U.K. on today’s date 1997.
Sallinen freely confesses he was thinking of those wind band arrangements of Mozart when he fulfilled his commission, which is not all that surprising, since the libretto for Sallinen’s 20th century opera borrowed some characters from one of Mozart’s 18th century ones.
Music Played in Today's Program
Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) The Palace Rhapsody, Op. 72 Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic;Ari Rasilainen, cond CPO 999972