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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Thursday, November 28

Rachmaninoff and Hanson get romantic

Synopsis

According to historians, the 19th Century was the great age of Romanticism—but tell that to Sergei Rachmaninoff and Howard Hanson! On today’s date, two of their quintessentially Romantic works were both premiered in the 20th century.

In 1909, Rachmaninoff came to the U.S. for his first American tour, and on today’s date appeared as the piano soloist in the premiere of his Third Piano Concerto with the New York Symphony. Now, if you believe the movie “Shine,” “Rach 3” is the most difficult of all Romantic piano concertos. Even its composer confessed he need to practice it on the boat to America!

By 1930, when American composer Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 premiered on today’s date in Boston, Romantic music was increasingly considered “old fashioned.” But Hanson defiantly subtitled his new Symphony “The Romantic.”

“My Symphony represents a definite embracing of the Romantic,” wrote Hanson “I recognize, of course, that Romanticism is, at the present time, music’s poor stepchild… Nevertheless, I embrace her all the more fervently, believing as I do that Romanticism will find in this country rich soil for new growth.”

And how about outer space? Decades after its premiere, Hanson’s popular “Romantic” Symphony even showed up as part of the film score to the sci-fi classic “Alien!”

Music Played in Today's Program

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 3 in d, Op. 30 Martha Argerich, piano; Berlin Radio Symphony; Riccardo Chailly, cond. Philips 446 673

Howard Hanson (1896-1981) Symphony No. 2, Op. 30 (Romantic) RCA Symphony; Charles Gerhardt, cond. Chesky 112

Additional Information

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