Friday, September 27
On this date in 1828, Franz Schubert attended a party at the Vienna home of one of his admirers and played some of his new piano sonata in B-flat, which he had completed only the previous day. That same month, Schubert composed one of his greatest works, the String Quintet in C Major.
Tragically, in less than two months, Schubert would be dead, an apparent victim of tertiary syphilis, the most dreaded sexually-transmitted disease of Schubert’s day. In our time, antibiotics can treat this once fatal disease, but in the early 1980s, its place was taken by the AIDS epidemic, which, before effective treatments were discovered, shortened the lives of many contemporary artists.
One of these was the American composer Kevin Oldham, born in 1960 in Kansas City. His piano concerto was premiered to critical acclaim and a standing ovation by the Kansas City Symphony conducted by Bill McLaughlin in 1993.
At that time, Oldham was seriously ill in a New York hospital and weighed only 135 pounds. Nevertheless he checked himself out, flew to his home town to solo in his concerto, then returned to the hospital the following day. He died six weeks later at age 32.
When Schubert died, he was only 31.
Music Played in Today's Program
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Piano Sonata in Bb, D. 960 Alfred Brendel, piano Philips 456 573
Kevin Oldham (1960-1993) Concerto for Piano, Op. 14 Ian Hobson, piano; Kansas City Symphony; Bill McGlaughlin, cond. BMG.Catalyst 61979
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