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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Friday, October 2

Steve Heitzeg's "Nobel Symphony"

Synopsis

In 2001, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, commissioned American composer Steve Heitzeg to write a “Nobel Symphony.”

In 1866, the Swedish engineer and scientist Alfred Nobel had invented dynamite. His patent helped him amass a great fortune, but, troubled by the destructive power and potential misuse of his invention, Nobel arranged that his estate would award annual prizes to those who made significant contributions to world peace.

For his “Nobel Symphony,” Heitzeg chose to set quotes from a variety of Nobel laureates , including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, Martin Luther King, Jr, and the Dalai Lama. Purely instrumental effects were also employed to convey something of their ideas and ideals. For example, in a section honoring a 1997 winner of the Nobel Prize, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Heitzeg scored an eerie march for a percussion ensemble consisting of hollow artificial limbs.

The October 2, 2001 premiere of Steve Heitzeg’s “Nobel Symphony” came shortly after the tragic events of September 11th. Understandably, its message had a special resonance for the performers and audiences present at its first performance.

Music Played in Today's Program

Steve Heitzeg (b. 1959) Nobel Symphony Gustavus Orchestra; Warren Friesen, cond. Gustavus Adolphus 60171-10022

Additional Information

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