On March 17, 2011, after Music Director Alan Gilbert and guest conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen addressed the audience, the New York Philharmonic performed Toru Takemitsu's Requiem for String Orchestra, in sympathy and admiration for the Japanese people who had recently suffered great loss and damage by the earthquake and tsunami.
Edward Elgar composed his Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra ("Enigma"), Op. 36, commonly referred to as the Enigma Variations, in 1898–99. It is a set of fourteen variations on a hidden "theme" that is, in Elgar's words, "not played". It is Elgar's best-known large-scale composition, for both the music itself and the enigma behind it.
Elgar dedicated the piece to "my friends pictured within", each variation being an affectionate portrayal of one of his circle of close acquaintances. The people portrayed in the variations include Elgar's wife Alice, Augustus J. Jaeger and Elgar himself. The enigma is the hidden theme, which has been the subject of much speculation. Various musicians have proposed theories for what melody it could be, although Elgar did not say that that his "theme" was a melody. The enigma could be something else, such as a symbol or a literary theme. Elgar accepted none of the solutions proposed in his lifetime, and took the secret with him to the grave.
After its 1899 London premiere, the piece achieved popularity and was performed internationally. It has been recorded over 60 times.
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) Enigma Variations, Op. 36
BBC Symphony Orchestra Leonard Bernstein
9/5/2014, “City Lives”: Fascinating Music Theater by Alexandros Mouzas (Athens Concert Hall known as Megaron Moussikis of Athens)
Music Theater is one of the newest operatic forms, which flourished during the second half of the twentieth century and still gives birth to remarkable compositions. Kurt Weil and Bertold Brecht could be considered as the European forerunners of this form. Maurizio Kagel, Peter Maxwell Davies and Yannis Christou are held in great esteem for having presented the first and most successful pieces of this form. Quite recently we attended the performance of “Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot” and “Vesalii Icones” by P. M. Davies at Megaron Moussikis of Athens. The composer Alexandros Mouzas was responsible for the artistic supervision of this production. It cannot be considered as a coincidence that three months later, Mouzas presented a fine example of this form entitled “City Lives”. Apparently, he must have been working on this composition for a long time. It consists of eight parts, each of which presents an aspect of city life in relation to important factors affecting it:
1. Introduction 2. Street Life 3. Social Life 4. Money Life 5. Media Life 6. Early Life 7. Inner Life 8. After Life
The composer himself wrote a functional and rather philosophical libretto based on the ideas of modern intellectuals such as Castells, Simmel, McLuhan and Auge (Introduction), which is epitomized by the phrase: “Foreigners in the global village”. Extracts from Hugo, Baudelaire, Barthelemy, Mead, Bakhtin, Gergen, Giddens, Sennet, Bauman, Old Testament, Apocalypse, Koran, Tibetan Bible of the Dead, Kybalion, Ars Moriendi, Financial newspapers and Fairy tales can be traced among the phrases of the libretto. The performance was supported by rather overloaded theatrical scenery, as well as by images (video art, animation, digital painting and sketches) created by Viki Betsou and Alexia Othonaiou. The images sometimes tended to exclusively attract our attention but they functioned quite well with music, especially in the Introduction and in the four last parts.
The musical part took advantage of several styles such as jazz, minimalism, theatrical songs, lyrical parts and religious music, all filtered through the personal style of the composer who managed to create the universe of city life without missing his main point. The singers Myrsini Margariti, Artemis Bogri (sopranos), Maria Vlachopoulou (mezzo soprano) and Tassos Apostolou (bass) were quite expressive and accurate, although they had to overcome frequent changes of scenes and costumes. However, the intensity of music did not always give space for their voices, especially at Street Life and Money Life. The conductor Andreas Tselikas seemed to follow closely the instructions of the composer. He successfully coordinated the singers with “Ergon Ensemble”, a group of musicians specializing in modern music and Music Theater (“Ergon Ensemble” had also taken part in the performance of P. M. Davies’ compositions three months earlier). The composer himself participated in the group by creating special sound effects through the computer.
Our city life has been enriched with new sounds!
Member of the “Union of drama and music Greek critics”