The composer Alban Berg lived from 1885 to 1935. He was born and died in Vienna, Austria. He was one of four children born to Conrad, a successful businessman and property owner, and Johanna, a shop keeper. The family lived well until Conrad’s death in 1900. Family finances became more difficult after his death.
In his early years, Berg was more interested in literature than music and he was not a good student. He did pursue music on his own and taught himself for a while. After finally graduating found himself facing the possibility of working as a civil servant, based partly on his lack of scholarly success. At the age of 17, he fathered a child out of wedlock with a family servant. At the age of 19, his family members were finally able to secure him a position as a student of Schoenberg.
In 1911, Berg finished his formal music studies and continued his musical life connected to the Second Viennese School. 1911 was also the year he married singer Helene Nahowski. Helene’s wealthy and Protestant family had opposed the marriage initially to the underemployed and Catholic Berg. The courtship lasted seven years until her father’s consent was finally won over.
At the age of 50, in 1935 Berg died suddenly of blood poisoning, leaving his opera Lulu unfinished. The third act was almost finished and 2 acts had already been publicly performed, however, Helene refused to allow it to be completed. It was not finished until after Helene’s death in 1976. The complete opera premiered in 1979.
You can hear a taste of Berg’s work when the Daedalus Quartet perform his String Quartet, Op. 3 on November 20th.
In December, we will hear a piece by Jacques Ibert, Deux Interludes, performed by Trio D’Argento. Ibert was born in Paris in 1890 to a businessman father and a pianist mother. He studied music from the age of 4, learning to play both the violin and the piano. He worked as a cinema pianist and accompanist to earn a living initially. In 1910, he entered the Paris Conservatory to continue his formal studies.
Ibert lived through two world wars. During World War I, he served in the navy as an officer. He had to stop his studies during the war. When he resumed and completed his studies at the Conservatory, he won the Prix de Rome in 1919 on his first attempt. During World War II, his music was banned and for a while he fled to Switzerland. Through it all his music persisted.
Through he could play, he chose the musical path of composer instead of performer. Jacques Ibert died in 1962 at the age of 71, leaving a legacy of music to be enjoyed in a multitude of disciplines. Known as an eclectic composer, Ibert does not fall into one specific genre or style, He composed operas, chamber music, ballets, scores for film, music for plays, and songs.
Ibert was also known for his involvement in music administration, belonging to a variety of committees during his lifetime. From 1937 to 1960, just 2 years before his death, he held the post of director of the Académie de France at the Villa Medici in Rome (with a break during World War II).
Join us on December 11, 2014 for a taste of Ibert’s talent.
Towards the end of this month, we will have the pleasure of presenting Janina Fialkowska as part of our piano series. A brilliant pianist, she is known for her outstanding interpretations of Chopin and Lizst.
Janina was born in 1951 in Montreal and has studied piano since the age of 4. At 12 years of age, she made her soloist debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. By the age of 17, she had graduated with two degrees from the University of Montreal. She went on to study in Paris and at Juilliard. In 1974, she placed in the top three prize winners of the very first Arthur Rubinstein Competition (http://www.arims.org.il/index.php/1974). Rubinstein helped launch her international career and became her mentor.
Since that time she has played for many orchestras around the world, given countless recitals, and released several recordings. She founded Piano Six, a program that was dedicated to bringing classical music to small communities across the country. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she became the first female instrumentalist to receive the 2012 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in Classical Music.
In early 2002, Janina’s professional career was put on hold. A tumour was discovered in her left arm. Removal of the tumour and subsequent surgery to repair damage to her arm didn’t stop her from performing. While her left arm healed, she gave several concerts performing with her right hand, even transposing pieces written for the left hand so they could be played with her right. In 2004, she relaunched her two hand playing career with continued success.
You can find out more about Janina on her website – http://www.fialkowska.com. And you can hear her live in Toronto on Tuesday October 28, 2014 at our concert! http://www.music-toronto.com
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky lived from 1840 to 1893. A Russian composer, he originally went to school to train as a civil servant. At a young age, his love for and interest in music was supported by his parents. Both had training in music as was common at the time. His family had a long history of military service and with the possibility of being posted to remote areas of Russia, it was normal for people to have some training in the arts in order to provide themselves with some form of entertainment if they were located far away from a larger city.
While he did take music lessons, Tchaikovsky entered his civil service training at the age of 10 most likely because his family wanted him to have a secure job and stable future. He graduated and obtained his first job at the age of 19. He had continued his interest in music over the years – taking private lessons at times, attending the opera with fellow students. At that point in time, a formal public music education program did not exist in Russia. The St. Petersburg Conservatory had not yet been founded. In 1861, Tchaikovsky attended some classes that would end up becoming the start of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. 1862 marks the start of the Conservatory and Tchaikovsky was part of the inaugural class.
For his first year of study, he kept his civil servant job as well, perhaps wanting to feel sure that he could make a career in the field of music. He did eventually leave his job and continued his studies until 1865. And went on to compose beautiful music until his death in 1893.
The Belcea Quartet comes to our stage on October 23, 2014. Celebrating 20 years, this quartet has a background in traditional and contemporary repertoire. Corina Belcea (violin), Axel Schacher (violin), Krzysztof Chorzelski (viola), Antoine Lederlin (cello) form the quartet. They are the Quartet in Residence at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England and share a residence with the Artemis at the Vienna Konzerthaus.
In addition to recording and performing, the quartet give back to the classical music community with the Belcea Quartet Trust. Created by the artists, this trust offers support to young string quartets with coaching sessions and commissions new works for performance by the quartet.
We look forward to hearing them on our stage on October 23, 2014 with some Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert! To read more about the quartet, visit their website at http://belceaquartet.com/