Monthly Archives: March 2016

Duo Turgeon

April 5, 2016 brings our final piano concert of the season as well as our final contemporary classics instalment this year.

Dr. Edward Turgeon and Dr. Anne Louise-Turgeon are the married pianists who form Duo Turgeon. The Duo is Algoma University’s Artist-In-Residence and individually they both teach at the Algoma Conservatory and at Algoma University. Previously they were on the faculty and ensemble-in- residence at Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters in Boca Raton, Florida.

Anne is originally from Montreal and Edward from Toronto. They have played together since 1988, moving to the professional side of performance as a duo in 1994. They have been married for over 25 years.

Add in performances around the world and seven CDs and you have a pair who have been quite busy over the years! To read more about them, visit their website at http://duoturgeon.com/index.html

Hear them live on the 5th at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Art. They will perform Variations on a theme by Paganini by Witold Lutoslawski, Mother Goose Suite by Maurice Ravel, Drift by Derek Charke), Migrant Voyage (Canadian premiere) by Manuel Valera, A selection of Sketches by Valery Gavrilin, Variations on a theme by Joseph Haydn, Op. 56b, by Brahms. Visit our website to order your tickets in advance – http://music-toronto.com/

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Witold Lutosławski, part three

As mentioned in the previous blog, Lutosławski left Warsaw in 1944. He returned in 1945 and married Danuta Bogusławska in 1946. Lutosławski returned to work on his first symphony at this point in time. It was performed in 1948. He also continued to compose more functional pieces to earn a living, writing items like piano studies and music to accompany a silent film.

Under Stalin, there was much artistic censorship. Lutosławski continued to compose functional pieces and was recognized with the Prime Minister’s Prize for some of his children’s songs. It wasn’t until after 1953 (Stalin’s death) that more of Lutosławski pieces would be performed. He composed many pieces over the years, developing and refining his own unique style.

In addition to the classical music we are familiar with, Lutosławski also composed some lighter fare. Between 1957 and 1963, he wrote about 40 pieces under the pen name of Derwid. These were pieces for voice and piano – many of these waltzes, tangos, or foxtrots.

Over the years he again international fame and continued to compose. Lutosławski lived in Poland through continued unrest and upheaval. Between 1981 and 1989, he declined all professional engagements in Poland to show his support of the artists’ boycott connected to the Solidarity (Polish trade union) movement.

He continued to compose and tour up until shortly before his death in early February 1994. Not long before his death, he was awarded Poland’s highest honour, the Order of the White Eagle. He was the second person to be awarded this honour after the fall of communism in Poland. Pope John Paul II was the first person to receive the award.

In February 1994, he lost his life to cancer. Danuta, his wife, passed away not long after.

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Witold Lutosławski, part two

Upon completion of his studies in 1937, military service was up next. He was trained as a radio operator. Hoping to continue his studies in Paris, his plans were interrupted by World War II when he was put into service as a radio operator. He was taken prisoner in the fall of 1939 but managed to escape and join his mother and oldest brother in Warsaw. His brother, Henryk, was captured and died in 1940 in a work camp.

Lutosławski found work as a pianist. Working as an accompanist and eventually as part of a piano duo, he spent 4 years playing in cafés. This was really the only way to hear live music as organized gatherings had been banned so it was impossible to give a traditional concert.

The other half of the piano duo was Andrzej Panufnik. Between them they arranged and performed over 200 pieces. Almost all of them were lost when Lutosławski and his mother left Warsaw quickly in July 1944. One that was saved was Lutosławski’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini, rumoured to be a favourite among patrons at the Aria café. We will hear it played live in Toronto by Duo Turgeon on April 5, 2016.

Aria café is also the place Lutosławski met his wife, Danuta Bogusławska. They married in 1946 and were together until his death in 1994. Danuta became his copyist and a great help in finding ways to overcome some of the challenges with notation in his works.

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Witold Lutoslawski, part one

Duo Turgeon returns to our stage on April 5, 2016. One of the pieces for the evening will be Variations on a Theme by Paganini composed by Witold Lutoslawski.

Witold Roman Lutoslawski was born in Warsaw in January 1913 to Polish parents of landed nobility, owning property in the Dorzdowo. Maria and Józef had met at school and married in 1904. Witold was the youngest of three boys. He and his brothers Jerzy (9 years older) and Henryk (4 years older) initially lived on the family estate in Dorzdowo which had been in their family for 150 years.

While his father was still managing their family estates, they moved to Warsaw due to the war. In 1915, the war pushed them to Moscow. Witold’s father, Józef, was involved with the Polish National Democratic Party. Józef and his brother, Marian, were both arrested by the Bolsheviks and the Lutoslawski family could not return home when the fighting ended there. In September of 1918, Józef and Marian were executed, days before their trial.

The rest of the family returned to Warsaw after the war. Their estates in Dorzdowo were in ruins. It is here in Warsaw that Witold started piano lessons at the age of six. His mother, Maria, ran the ruined estates for a time but eventually moved back to Warsaw permanently and went back to earning a living as a physician and translator to English.

Witold was accepted into the Stefan Batory Grammar School and also attended the conservatory to study music. He started to study the violin in 1925. He eventually attended Warsaw University to study math. He also joined the composition classes at the Conservatory in 1932 to pursue his interests and continue his music studies. In 1933 he stopped his studies for mathematics and concentrated on piano and composition. He received a diploma for piano performance in 1936 and one for composition in 1937 from the Conservatory.

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Quatuor Ebène

St. Patrick’s Day this year will find us celebrating a little French this year as Quatuor Ebène takes to our stage for the evening of March 17th.

Formed in 1999 at the Boulogne-Billancourt Conservatory in France, the quartet features founding members Pierre Colombet (violin), Gabriel Le Magadure (violin), and Raphaël Merlin (cello). Adrien Boisseau (viola) joined them in 2015.

In 2004 the quartet participated in the ARD International Music Competition. They place first in the string quartet category and continued from there to win award and gain praise. 2005 saw the ensemble win the Belmont Prize of the Forberg-Schneider Foundation. The Foundation continues to work with the quartet to enable them to play priceless old instruments from private collections.

In addition to performing in Europe, Canada, and the US, Quatuor Ebène has released several CDs. Recording of Bartok, Debussy, Mendelssohn (both Felix and Fanny), and Fauré are all award winners and have received great praise from the critics. In addition to traditional classical recordings they have two cross over CDs. Fiction is a live recording of jazz arrangements and was released in 2010. Brazil was released in 2014 and is a collaboration with Stacey Kent, an American jazz singer. They have a scheduled April 15, 2016 release for another CD – Schubert: Quintet and Lieder.

To hear Quatuor Ebène perform live in Toronto, join us on March 17, 2016 at 8pm at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. http://music-toronto.com/

The quartet will also give a masterclass on Wednesday the 16th in the evening.  Details for the class can be found here – http://music-toronto.com/outreach.htm  The class is open for any to attend for free.

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