Eugene Goossens’ Jubilee Variations

Notes by Steve V. Sinclair

This obscure piece is mostly known today, if at all, as the inspiration for Aaron Copland’s “Jubilee Variation,” also known as “Variation on a Theme by Eugene Goossens.” The work was written for the 50th anniversary of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where Goossens was conductor. He wrote the theme and finale himself, and commissioned ten American composers to contribute variations. Goossens himself was later plagued by a major public scandal involving the occult and erotica. As a result, his reputation was ruined and he was forced to return to his native England in disgrace. Thus, his compositions never achieved great recognition, but he nonetheless inspired many composers after him, including Copland.

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, Romantic

Notes by TŌN horn player Ethan Brozka

As a brass player, Bruckner is religion to us, it’s almost like heavy metal in a way. We really get to open up and play over the backdrop of rich strings. It’s just a blast in every sense of the word.

Bruckner was a deeply religious man and much of his music was sacred. Obviously symphonies have no text or librettos, and I think it was Herbert von Karajan that said that they’re “masses without words,” which is how I would describe the aesthetic of the Romantic symphony.

Among Bruckner’s symphonies, this is one of my favorites. The 4th runs the gamut from its beautiful, daybreak opening with the horn solo at the beginning, all the way to the third movement where it’s almost like a hunting chorus between the horns and the rest of the brass, to the finale of heavy metal. There’s such a wide range of emotional content that demands so much from the players, but also allows us to be very expressive in a lot of different ways.

In the same way that we sort of have to come to terms with the history of Wagner, Bruckner is inextricably linked with the Third Reich. I think that a piece can exist independent of the time in which it was conceived. To disregard this entire work simply because of the associations with it, as the world did for many years with much of Bruckner’s music, would be foolish. In a way, it’s empowering to repurpose it for our own uses rather than ignore it because of its composer’s history.

HuffPost: Don’t Miss The Orchestra Now

Read full article

“On the musical engagement front, don’t miss The Orchestra Now (TŌN). Its noble aim is to make orchestral music relevant to 21st-century audiences, led by renowned conductor Leon Botstein.

The musicians are handpicked from the world’s leading conservatories and their performances, as evidenced by their recent Carnegie Hall rendition of Bernard Herrmann’s “Psycho Suite,” “Symphony No. 1” and Erich Korngold’s “Symphony in F. Sharp,” was dramatic and intense. TŌN is an opportunity to see talented musicians early in their careers.

What’s so impressive about the accomplished TŌN is its variety — upcoming concerts include Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and Shostakovich’s “Michelangelo” — and occasional free concerts at Symphony Space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.” – Fern Siegel

Photo by David DeNee