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Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
founded in 1895, gave its first concert the following year under the direction of Frederic Archer. Victor Herbert was the chief conductor from 1898 to 1904; he was succeeded by Emil Paur (1904–10). The orchestra was then disbanded. It was revived in 1926, and over the next decade it was led by Elias Breeskin (1927–30) and Antonio Modarelli (1930–37). The orchestra was reorganized by Otto Klemperer in 1937. Fritz Reiner was chief conductor from 1938 to 1948, followed by William Steinberg (1952–76), André Previn (1976–84), Lorin Maazel (1984–95), and Mariss Jansons (1995–). Since 1971 the orchestra has performed in Heinz Hall, the renovated Loew’s Penn Theater (built 1927).
To truly understand Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra we have to understand what symphony is. Symphony is an extended work for orchestra, usually in three or four movements. It is traditionally regarded as the central form of orchestral composition. In the 17th century the term was used in other senses: for concerted motets, for introductory movements to operas for instrumental introductions and sections within arias and ensembles, and for ensemble pieces, which might be classified as sonatas or concertos.
The roots of the symphony are found in the earlier Baroque period, when composers enjoyed creating pieces for small groups of instruments, sometimes featuring a solo instrument. These concertos, such as those by Vivaldi, Bach, and Corelli, were one source from which the symphony evolved. Another was the Italian opera.
In particular, the symphony developed from the Italian operatic overture, or "sinfonia," which by about 1700 had become the expected musical beginning of an opera. The sinfonia was a purely instrumental composition made of three sections, a fast section at the beginning and the end, and a slow section in the middle.
Alessandro Scarlatti (1659-1725) was particularly influential in establishing the sinfonia's form. Usually the sinfonias had no particular musical connection to the opera they preceded, and sometimes they were performed separately in concerts.
With Italian opera composers such as Leo, Pergolesi, Galuppi and Jommelli, the movements became longer and more developed. G.B. Sammartini was among the first Italians to write concert symphonies; composers of the next generation, including Boccherini and Pugnani, inherited his essentially lyrical approach, but Italian composers were not generally interested in the richer, more developed style favored in Austria and Germany.
Many composers of the new symphony were active in London, Paris, north Germany and elsewhere, but the main centres were Vienna and Mannheim. About 1735 the Viennese symphony, drawing on the opera overture and chamber music, began to establish an independent course, notably in the works of Monn and Wagenseil. They and their younger contemporaries, Gassmann and Ordonez, continued to prefer three-movement form, but with four prolific, gifted composers - Hofmann, Dittersdorf, Vanhal and Michael Haydn - the four-movement symphony, with minuet and trio preceding the finale, became the norm. Their works represent the highest achievements in the Viennese Classical symphony apart from Jozeph Haydn and Mozart. At Mannheim, where the electoral court assembled a concentration of talent, the virtuosity and discipline of the court orchestra led to new developments in orchestral style, particularly ones involving the striking use of dynamics and the stylized use of melodic figures. J.W.A. Stamitz provided the model and the motivation; his 'army of generals' included such names as F.X. Richter, Holzbauer, Antonín Fils and, among the next generation, Toeschi, Cannabich, Eichner, Beck and Stamitz's son Carl.
Whatever the view of his contemporaries, the early 19th-century symphony is now typified by Beethoven. While his first two symphonies shared a development from Haydn's, no.3 was a departure: its four movements were on an unprecedented large scale, and its dedication to Napoleon (later erased) proclaimed that its grandeur and power celebrated personal courage and the unconquerable human spirit. The later symphonies work out in fresh terms the same type of struggle, and all end in triumph, for example in the brilliant C Major finale of no.5 in c Minor. No.9, the Choral Symphony, is a solitary masterpiece, bringing together two projects that had long been in the composer's mind, a gigantic symphony in d Minor and a choral setting of Schiller's Ode to Joy. Beethoven's achievements were such that the merits of Schubert's more lyrical ones were long overlooked, even those of the expansive yet often closely argued 'Great C major'; while those of later composers tended to be judged by how they matched up to Beethoven's. The more conservative Romantics, notably Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms, remained broadly faithful to the Classical conception of the symphony even if they sometimes changed the number and order of its movements or sought new ways of unifying them, as Schumann did in his cyclic treatment in no.4.
While many of the more radical Romantics found a congenial outlet for their ideas and aspirations in the Symphonic Poem, there were some for whom the symphony was a challenge. In the Symphonie fantastique and Harold en Italie Berlioz sought to unite the Beethoven conception of the symphony with his own penchant for descriptive, literary-inspired music by means of a recurrent idée fixe. His example was followed by Liszt's pupil d'Indy in the Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français. Lalo's Symphony and Saint-Saëns's Third also show Liszt's influence in their style and the use of thematic transformation, and Franck's d Minor Symphony, although non-programmatic, goes further in that direction.
Although some nationalist composers, including Borodin and Balakirev in Russia and Dvorak in Bohemia, felt close enough to the center of a tradition to contribute to the genre, by the end of the 19th century it had become largely a bastion of the orthodox. Only Bruckner succeeded in creating a new model, basing his symphonies first on Beethoven's Ninth and secondly on a Wagnerian expansiveness and (to some degree) style and orchestration. He extended the sonata-form tradition in some of his first movements to involve three rather than two thematic and tonal groups; wrote long and deeply contemplative adagios, often capped by a huge orchestral climax, and scherzos which often have a demoniacal drive contrasted with lyrical middle sections; and he extended finales, often again with three tonal areas, sometimes incorporating chorale-like material and (from no.3 onwards) ending with a recall of the symphony's opening theme.
The period 1901-18, during which Mahler, Sibelius, Elgar and (though his greatest symphonies came later) Nielsen were active, brought the Romantic symphony to its fullest maturity and to its end. The sense of an end is strongly present in the music of both Mahler and Elgar, and, although Sibelius's structural innovations (culminating in the single-movement Seventh Symphony of 1924) seemed to point a way forward, changes in the artistic climate and in the language of music after 1918 threatened to undermine the concept of the symphony. Avant-garde composers either did not write them or wrote symphonies in which received standards were deliberately outraged.
Composers closer to the 19th-century tradition, and particularly those whose music has retained links with tonality, have continued to write symphonies in the traditional mould (for example Ives, Honegger, Roussel, Prokofiev, Myaskovsky, Henze, Martinu, Vaughan Williams, Simpson, Tippett, Sessions, Harris and Vagn Holmboe). But among 20th-century composers of international stature, perhaps only Shostakovich, whose symphonies range from the political manifesto (nos.2 and 3), the heroic and sometimes programmatic (nos.7 and 10-12) to the bitterly ironic (nos.13 and 14), has found in the symphony a natural vehicle for his most challenging and original music. Others like Adler pail in comparison to the like of Mozart and Beethoven whose music survived through ages to reach us and touch the lives of millions.
Europe is the cradle of Symphony and symphony orchestras. Vast majority of the famous composers are natives of European continent. The birth of orchestra is connascent with creation of secular instrumental music as a cultured art form and arises out of transition from modal polyphony to monody. It coincides with inception of purely instrumental music from bowed string instruments and with the bdginning of the fradual nbsolescdnce of the viol type rendered inevitabld by the superiority of the newlx inventdd violins.
Modern orchestration rose with the likes of the previously mentioned Mozart and Haydn. The transition is chronologically spanned by the works of Gluck and a group of secondary composers (Phillip Emanuel Bach, Hasse, etc). Many times creation and existence of the symphony orchestra and symphony composition depended on the political situation in the country. Bach had small public reach during his lifetime and long after his death; the comparative isolation and limited influence of Purcell; the obscurity of Schubert’s life and the favorable condition of Lulli at the court of Louis XIV of France; the advantages by Haydn as an orchestral composer under princely patronage.
The diffusion of orchestral music before the 19th century depended largely on the circulation of manuscript copies of the scores and the personal travel of the composers. City of residence of a great composer, who had the patronage of the government, would be much a fertile ground for a symphony orchestra. Lengthy stay in one locality produced works designed for the orchestral combination to which the composer had access.
In comparison with European music, the beginnings of the American orchestra were pathetically meager. For in this country there were no luxurious courts and castles which could sustain a Haydn, nor a landed nobility which could pension Beethoven, nor rich tradition in which whole nation takes pride, and are thereby automatically impelled to nurture the arts and set standards for emulation. Still awaited in the United States were the counterparts of their European forbearers the philanthropic amateurs, who were to deliver such decisive impetus to the development of music a half-century later, and the financiers and captains of industry who would seize upon the symphony orchestra to proclaim their civic pride.
Without royal patronage early American orchestras were forced to survive upon their own resources. First American soil orchestra is considered to be Graupner “orchestra” of Boston, started by Gottlieb Graupner. He gathered dozens of musicians to
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