Antonín Leopold Dvořák was born in 1841 to František and Anna Dvořák. František was an innkeeper, butcher, and professional zither player. Antonín was their eldest child and showed an aptitude for music at a young age. At the age of six, he was learning to play the violin. He went on to study the organ and piano as well as music theory.
In his late teens, Dvořák lived in Prague and studied at the Organ School. After graduating second in his class, he applied for an organist position but was unsuccessful in securing the job. He remained in Prague and performed with the orchestras there during his twenties. At this time, he also started composing and was teaching on the side to supplement his income.
He married Anna Čermáková in 1873. Shortly after his marriage, Dvořák became the organist at St. Vojtěch Church in Prague.
In 1874, he won the Austrian State Prize for composition. This prize was intended to give some additional financial support to composers in need. Dvořák applied again in 1877 and was once again awarded the prize. Brahms was on both juries that awarded the prize and he was much impressed by the talent and volume of Dvořák compositions. So much so that Brahms recommended Dvořák to his own publisher, Simrock. After the successful publication of Dvořák’s Moravian Duets, Simrock commissioned him for a series of dance pieces, published as the Slavonic Dances. This helped launch his international career.
Tonight the Prazak Quartet will bring us one of Dvořák’s better known chamber music pieces. Join us to hear Quartet in F Major, Op. 96, “American”. http://music-toronto.com/quartets/prazak.htm
Next Thursday we welcome the Gryphon Trio back to our stage! The evening includes Beethoven (Trio in C Minor Op. 1, No. 3), a new piece by Vincent Ho (Gryphon Realms – a world premiere), Piano Trio in F-sharp Minor by Arno Babajanian, and new pieces composed by grade 11 students from the Gryphon Trio Young Composers Program with the Claude Watson Arts Program.
Many of our patrons are already familiar with the Gryphon Trio (Annalee Patipatanakoon, violin; Roman Borys, cello; Jamie Parker, piano). They have performed for us for 20 years now (and have been in existence for 22 years), eight of those as our ensemble-in-residence.
Instead of trying to find something new to tell you about the Gryphon, I thought it might be more fun to hear about them from them! Below are a number of video clips with various interviews from over the years.
Guardian of treasures – how the Gryphon Trio came to be – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3eFG8EtJdk
Interview of Jamie Parker by David Perlman at The Whole Note. February 2015 – http://www.gryphontrio.com/conversationsthewholenote-jamie-parker/
Interview of Roman Borys by David Perlman at The Whole Note. June 2012 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7hf2VRqHhg – Roman
Interview of Jamie Parker by David Perlman at The Whole Note. October 2011 – http://www.thewholenote.com/index.php/newsroom/musical-life/whoismusicalchild/12937-we-are-all-musics-child-october-2011
The Gryphon Trio interviewed by Keith Horner, recorded at the 2009 Festival of the Sound – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6C8qJTQJpA –
April 10th brings us a quintet with the Parker Quartet and Kikuei Ikeda as the additional violist. Ikeda is well known to our audiences as a violinist, having played on our stage many times over the years as a member of the Tokyo String Quartet.
Born in Yokosuka, Japan, Ikeda studied at the Toho Academy of Music. There he studied the violin, chamber music, and conducting. He performed with the Yomiuri Symphony and the Tokyo Metropolitan and Tokyo Symphony orchestras. In 1971, he came to the U.S. and The Juilliard School of Music on a scholarship where he studied with members of the Juilliard String Quartet.
He joined the Tokyo String Quartet in 1974 and became a faculty member of the Yale school of music in 1976. He has been a part of over 40 CD recordings with the Tokyo String Quartet along with live performances too many to count! When the Tokyo disbanded last season, Ikeda decided to take up the viola for performance. We are looking forward to hearing him live once again!
Alexandre Da Costa was born in 1979 in Montreal. Skilled on both the violin and piano at a young age, he completed a Master’s Degree in violin from Conservatoire de Musique du Québec and a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Interpretation from the University of Montreal when he was 18 years old.
When he had to choose just one, he decided on the violin. His studies took him to Madrid and Austria. And his career has since taken him across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, playing both with orchestras and as a solo recitalist. Da Costa is the 2010 recipient of the Virginia-Parker Prize – one of many awards he has been given over the years. In 2002, he was awarded the Sylva Gelber Foundation Award for best Canadian artist under 30 years old.
2012 saw him win a JUNO award for “Classical Album of the Year” (for the recordings of the concertos by American composer Michael Daugherty, with the Montreal Symphony under Pedro Halffter). Da Costa has released at least 20 CDs under various record labels over the years. He currently records with Warner Classics International and Acacia Classics/Universal Music Group.
In addition to touring and recording, Da Costa is the Professor of Violin at the Gatineau Music Conservatory (Ottawa).
On April 3rd, Da Costa (accompanied by Hélène Mercier) will perform some Manuel de Falla, Beethoven, and Brahms from our stage. To hear clips of him perform or read more about him, visit his website at http://www.alexandredacosta.com
On April 3rd, Alexandre Da Costa will come to our stage as part of our Discovery series. One of the pieces we will hear is Suite Populaire Espagnole by Manuel de Falla.
Born in Cádiz in November 1876, Falla was a Spanish composer. His full name is Manuel María de los Dolores Falla y Matheu. Like many composers, he was introduced to the piano by his family, taking lessons from his mother and grandfather at a young age. At the age of 9, he started more formal lessons. As a young man, he moved to Madrid and continued to study piano and composition at the Real Conservatorio de Música y Declamación.
Much of Falla’s work and fame is connected to his work for the stage – opera and ballet. From 1907 to 1914, Falla lived in Paris. It is here that he first composed pieces for piano and voice. Falla would work with violinist Paul Kochanski to transcribe 6 of these pieces for piano and violin, becoming the piece we will hear on April 3rd. At this point in his career, he was interested in Andalusian music and was exploring the Impressionist style of artists like Ravel and Debussy. Later his music would show influences of Stravinsky and the neoclassical style. While he did officially retire in 1926, he was still composing his cantata, Atlántida, when he died, just 9 days before his 70th birthday.
Stradivarius is a well known name, especially in the world of classical music. Antonio Stradivari was most likely an apprentice of Nicolo Amati. A little while back, I wrote about Nicolo’s grandfather, Andrea Amati. https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/a-luthier-and-the-violin/
Stradivari was born in 1644 and lived until December of 1737 – 93 years. Over 70 of those years were spent crafting instruments. His apprenticeship most likely started when he was between the ages of 12 and 14. His oldest surviving violin dates back to 1666 when he was 22 years old. At the age of 23, he married his first wife, Francesca Feraboschi. They had 5 surviving children and were married for 31 years, until her death in 1698. At the age of 55, he married for a second time. He and Zambelli Costa had 5 children as well. At the time of his death, two of his sons were working with him and his business passed on to Francesco, who only survived for another 6 years.
Like many good craftsmen, he honed his skills over time, experimented with changes to his instruments, and created a variety of final products that would stand the test of time. While known by many for his violins, Stradivari also made lutes, guitars, and harps. Estimates place the number of instruments he made between 1,000 and 1,100. 650 of those are still in existence today with at least 450 of them being violins. He has given us a lasting legacy of excellence.
The Jerusalem Quartet will open our 2013-2014 season on Thursday, October 3rd! They performed for MTO in 2011, making their Toronto debut.
Founded back in 1993, they quickly became an award winning quartet. As early as 1996, they were awarded first prize by the Jerusalem Academy. In the years that have followed they have received several awards and many accolades including most recently being nominated for Gramophone Artist of the Year 2013. It is not hard to understand why once you have heard them play. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to the Jerusalem Quartet before, you can find some clips on their YouTube channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/jerusalemquartet
This talented quartet features Alexander Pavlovsky (first violin), Sergei Bresler (second violin), Ori Kam (viola), and Kyril Ziotnikov (cello). Individually they are each accomplished soloists, having played with several internationally acclaimed orchestras. They have taught students around the world and recorded numerous CDs, individually and as a quartet. When you add to all of this the very busy world wide touring performance schedule of the quartet, you can only be amazed and wonder if they ever sleep!
You can read a bit more about the quartet and its members by visiting their website at http://www.jerusalem-quartet.com/index.php/about
Their program for October 3rd includes Mozart, Shostakovich, and Dvorak. Full details can be found here http://www.music-toronto.com/quartets/jerusalem.htm
Come and join us for an amazing opening night!
String instruments are obviously an important part of chamber music. But where do the instruments come from? Who makes them?
As early as the 9th century in Europe, there was the lira – a small bowed instrument that was held upright to be played. Over time, two different classes of lira developed. The lira da gamba (viol for the leg) was held upright between the legs when played and the lira da braccio (viol for the arm) was held in the arms. This further developed into the family of the violin of today.
Luthier is the occupation of someone who makes lutes and string instruments. In the 16th century, Andrea Amati was a respected luthier making lutes and rebecs. He was born in 1505 and died in 1577, residing in Cremona, Italy. Many credit him with developing the violin in the form we know today. There is some debate about that as Brescia has earlier records for the formation of their school. We do know that the oldest surviving violin was made by Amati for Charles IX of France.
Whether or not he was the first one to create the violin as we know it, Amati’s great contributions to the development of the violin cannot be denied. Aside from the physical developments made to the instrument, he was also the father of Antonio and Hieronymus and the grandfather of Nicolo. Antonio and Hieronymus became respected instrument makers in their own right. Nicolo is the member of the family who rises above the rest for the quality of his instruments. He also took on apprentices – among them Antonio Stradivari and Andrea Guarneri.
All in all the Amati family started us off on an amazing journey with amazing instruments!