My practice time lately has been devoted to preparations for a concert of violin and piano music planned for Sunday, September 25th at 3:00 PM at Salyards Center for the Arts. The program is devoted to three works which are quite different from each other but have one thing in common, at least as I hear them. I believe they can all function as an exhortation to spend time well. Here are some tidbits about each piece.
Erik Satie's Le Mort de Socrate
In 399 BCE, a court in Athens found the philosopher Socrates guilty of corrupting the youth of Athens with his constant questioning about reality and sentenced him to death. Plato's account of his death has inspired sympathy from those enamored of a rational way of life ever since. Erik Satie, who contemplated the realities of life during the early part of the 20th Century in France, set the drama of Socrates' death to music—music that captures both Socrates' friends' sensations as the hour of his death approached inexhorabley, and Socrates' own peaceful outlook based on his firm faith in the immortality of his soul.
Aaron Copland's Violin Sonata
Aaron Copland dedicated a piece to a man who died too young—one Lieutenant Harry Dunham, a friend killed in the action of World War II. The piece, a sonata for violin and piano, is a tightly constructed microcosm of many musical moods. The Lyric melodies and bouyant exuberances of the first movement sandwich a slow mournful dance. Copland composed it during 1942 and 1943. He dedicated it to his friend who died just after Copland finished the piece.
Robert Schumann's Violin Sonata in a minor
Beside these two musical treatises on noble death we have juxtaposed Robert Schumann's violin Sonata in A minor—composed in1851. This was just three years before Robert Schumann was confined to a mental hospital after attempting suicide by throwing himself into the Rhine. It is a piece full of passionate emotion realized in the most romantic style.
But do not think, from these descriptions, that the pieces are morbid or dolorous. All three partake of life, indeed have the divine spark evident in them. We hope you will decide to use your time to come and enjoy them with us. The concert takes place at 3:00 PM on Sunday, September 25th at Salyards Center for the Arts. It is a faculty concert for Mountain Top Music Center where both Chris Nourse and I teach. A donation of $10 is suggested. For more information call Mountain Top Music Center at 447-4737.