Composer: Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976)
Work: Sea Interlude - Sunday Morning (Allegro spiritoso) from Peter Grimes (1945)
Performer: Boston Symphony Orchestra; conducted by Leonard Bernstein
Symphony Nº. 6 in F, “Pastoral,” Op. 68
I. Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arriving in the country
II. Scene at the brook
III. Happy gathering of country folk
IV. The storm
V. Shepherd’s song; cheerful, thankful feelings after the storm
Bon Appétit, Bernstein!
On today, Julia Child’s 100th birthday, we celebrate the perfect pairing of food and music. What do Julia Child and Leonard Bernstein have in common? Lee Hoiby’s 1989 opera, Bon Appétit, was not only based on Julia Child’s own words and recipes from her television show, but it also, at one point, included Lenny’s early song cycle La Bonne Cuisine, set to excerpts from Julia’s autobiography.
Celebrate Julia today with this clip from the opera, as performed by Debra McVicker.
Symphony Nº. 4 in B-flat major, Op. 60
I. Adagio — Allegro vivace
III. Allegro vivace
IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Leonard Bernstein, cond.
Beethoven’s Fourth, one of the least performed of his nine symphonies, was completed in the period between 1804-1806, the astonishingly fruitful time which also gave birth to the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies , the Fourth Piano Concerto, the “Appassoniata” Sonata, the Razumovsky Quartets, and other works. Symphonies 4, 5, and 6 are thought to have been completed in the order indicated by number, but work on them overlapped considerably as they were all “in the oven” at the same time.
One reason for the relative obscurity of the Fourth lies in its reserved character falling between the two titanic outbursts of the Third and Fifth; Beethoven seems to have withdrawn into himself, and superficially the Fourth does not seem like an advancement.
But careful listening and analysis shows this is far from the case: within its highly classic frame, the Fourth abounds with experiments in syncopation, harmony (especially in its frequent use of enharmonic modulations), and orchestration—nowhere before the Fourth had the composer so colorfully and boldly defined new orchestral sonorities and their interplay. It is also worth mentioning that the Adagio of the Fourth would be the last truly “slow” inner movement of a symphony until the Ninth, with those in the interim passing at andante or better.
Herbert von Karajan (L) and Leonard Bernstein (R) in ski gear. These two titans of the podium did not get along famously—but Bernstein was touched when von Karajan showed up at his room in Milan at 3 AM with an armful of ski gear for him to borrow. At dinner von Karajan had offered to take his counterpart into the Alps, but Bernstein had to decline as he owned no equipment.
Brahms - Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
I. Un poco sostenuto - Allegro
Israel Philharmonic Orch.
Leonard Bernstein, cond.
Johannes Brahms spent, by his own count, no fewer than 21 years working out his first symphony—and he insisted on a minimum of three trial performances in various cities before allowing Simrock to publish the work. The composer was mindful both of his much-discussed relationship to Beethoven and his need to counter the programmatic experiments of artists like Liszt and Berlioz, whom he would more openly critique, according to some readings, in his later symphonies. “A symphony is no joke,” Brahms is supposed to have said.