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Music Madness

16 of classical music’s greatest composers will battle it out to win “The Golden Score” Award.  Your votes determine the daily winner and who will ultimately win The Golden Score Award.

2017 Golden Score winner

 

John Williams (b. 1932) was born in New York and has become one of the most well known American composers, primarily for his extensive list of popular film scores.  Williams’ family later moved to Los Angeles where the composer attended UCLA and studied composition.  He served in the Air Force, conducting and arranging music for the Air Force Band.  He later returned to New York and attended The Juilliard School, working as a jazz pianist.  From 1980-1993, Williams was the 19th conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Williams has won 5 Academy Awards (with 49 nominations, he is the second most nominated person after Walt Disney), 4 Golden Globes,  22 Grammy Awards, and was a Kennedy Center Honors Recepient in 2004.  Williams has written many concert pieces, including a symphony, instrumental and vocal concertos, but is most known for his nearly 80 film scores which include E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones series, the Star Wars trilogy, Jurassic Park, Hook,the first 3 Harry Potter films, and most recently, The Book Thief.

 First recorded performance by the CSO: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1989
Last performance by the CSO:
The Terminal: Viktor’s Tale, 2015
Next performance by the CSO: Music from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, April 22, 2017

March 15 – John Williams wins

March 14 – Beethoven wins

March 13 – John Williams wins

March 10 – Rachmaninoff wins

March 9 – Joan Tower wins

March 8 – Wagner wins

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was born in Leipzig, Germany and began attending and participating in theatrical performances with his step-father, playwright Ludwig Geyer.  In 1820, Wagner began to receive piano instruction, but preferred to play theatre overtures by ear.  His first work, an opera called Leubald, was strongly influenced by Shakespeare and Goethe and written in 1826 when he was 13.

Wagner wrote by the libretti and the music for his operas and drew upon German folktales and myths.  He is famous for using leitmotifs or musical themes that are associated with certain characters, plots, or places.  His four opera cycle “The Ring of Nibelung” was created using another concept popularized by Wagner, Gesamtkunstwerk or “total work of art” which combined poetry, visual arts, music and drama for a complete performance.

First recorded performance by the CSO: “Song to the Evening” from Tannhäuser, 1934
Last performance by the CSO:
“Arrival of the Guests at the Wartburg” fromTannhäuser, 2014
Next performance by the CSO: Overture to Tannhäuser, to be performed January 25, 2018

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was born in Russia and started to take piano lessons from his mother. He was improvising and composing by the age of nine.

When he was 13, he entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music where he studied with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  After a musical tour around the world, Prokofiev went to Paris and began writing ballets.  In 1933, he moved back to Russia and wrote some of his most famous compositions including Peter and the WolfAlexander Nevsky, Romeo and Juliet (ballet) and War and Peace (opera).

Last performance by the CSO: Peter & The Wolf, February 2016
Next performance by the CSO: Suite from Romeo and Juliet, to be performed April 5, 2018

March 7 – Stephenson wins

Chicago area composer James Stephenson’s works have been performed by leading American orchestras and around the world, and have been hailed by critics as having “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds” (Boston Herald). His music incorporates a fresh and energizing sound scape that engages the audience while maintaining integrity and worthwhile challenges for the performing musicians. This rare combination has rewarded Stephenson with a host of ongoing commissions and projects.

His landmark educational work, Compose Yourself!, has now been performed over 250 times since its creation in 2002. Stephenson is also a highly sought after arranger, and he has recently added conducting to his musical palette. Before moving to Lake Forest as a full-time composer/conductor, Stephenson spent 17 seasons with the Naples (FL) Philharmonic as a trumpeter, a position he won immediately upon graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music. Stephenson is currently enjoying a position of Composer-in-Residence with the Lake Forest Symphony.

The CSO will perform its first performance of a piece by James Stephenson in the 2016/17 season.   Concerto for Violin, “Tributes” will be performed on March 2, 2017.

First performed by CSO: “Tributes” Violin Concert, March 2017
Next performance by CSO: The Devil’s Tale, October 15, 2017

https://soundcloud.com/james-m-stephenson/stephenson-tributes-concerto

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and grew up in the Boston area. His father sold wigs and beauty supplies, and wanted his oldest son to take over the business. But after Leonard — or Lenny, as all his friends called him — composed the class song for his high school graduation, he went on to Harvard and majored in music.

Leonard Bernstein got his big break when he was the 25-year-old assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. At the last minute, he stepped in to conduct a concert in Carnegie Hall that was broadcast live over the radio all across America. The audience loved him, and the event made front page headlines in the newspaper.

When Bernstein was eventually named music director of the New York Philharmonic, he was the first American to become permanent conductor of a major American orchestra. Leonard Bernstein used television, which was brand new at the time, to bring classical music to a very wide audience through his “Young People’s Concerts.”

Bernstein also loved to compose musical theater. His musicals include “On The Town,” “Wonderful Town,” and “West Side Story.”

First performance by the CSO: West Side Story, 1962
Next performance by the CSO: Serenade, to be performed April 26, 2018

 

March 6 – Beethoven wins

 

Gustav Mahler,  (born July 7, 1860, Kaliště, Bohemia, Austrian Empire—died May 18, 1911, Vienna, Austria), Austrian Jewish composer and conductor, noted for his 10 symphonies and various songs with orchestra, which drew together many different strands of Romanticism. He served as director for the Vienna Court Opera from 1897 to 1907, and later led the New York Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Although his music was largely ignored for 50 years after his death, Mahler was later regarded as an important forerunner of 20th-century techniques of composition (particularly progressive tonality) and an acknowledged influence on such composers as Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten. Modern critical opinion recognizes Mahler’s powerful influence during a period of musical transition. In his works may be found pervasive elements foreshadowing the radical methods employed in the 20th century.

First performed by CSO: Symphony No. 2, 1953
Next performance by CSO: Symphony No. 4, to be performed on April 6, 2017

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was born in Bonn, Germany but spent most of his life in Vienna.  His family were court musicians and Beethoven began to study music at an early age. At age nine, he began to formally study music under the organist of the aristocratic court at Bonn. Later in life, Beethoven took regular composition lessons from Franz Joseph Haydn (although Beethoven did not like studying with Haydn) and was frequently engaged by nobility to give recitals.  He began to compose during the 1790s and his Symphony No. 1 was published in 1800.  At the same time, Beethoven began to suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which eventually led to total deafness.

Beethoven is celebrated as one of classical music’s “3 B’s” (Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms) and is an important composer of the early Romantic period.  Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies, 16 quartets, many sonatas, an opera, and other vocal and instrumental works.

First performed by CSO: Symphony No. 5, 1913
Last performance by CSO: Choral Fantasy, October, 2016

March 3 – John Williams Wins

John Williams (b. 1932) was born in New York and has become one of the most well known American composers, primarily for his extensive list of popular film scores.  Williams’ family later moved to Los Angeles where the composer attended UCLA and studied composition.  He served in the Air Force, conducting and arranging music for the Air Force Band.  He later returned to New York and attended The Juilliard School, working as a jazz pianist.  From 1980-1993, Williams was the 19th conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Williams has won 5 Academy Awards (with 49 nominations, he is the second most nominated person after Walt Disney), 4 Golden Globes,  22 Grammy Awards, and was a Kennedy Center Honors Recepient in 2004.  Williams has written many concert pieces, including a symphony, instrumental and vocal concertos, but is most known for his nearly 80 film scores which include E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones series, the Star Wars trilogy, Jurassic Park, Hook,the first 3 Harry Potter films, and most recently, The Book Thief.

 First recorded performance by the CSO: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1989
Last performance by the CSO:
The Terminal: Viktor’s Tale, 2015
Next performance by the CSO: Music from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, April 22, 2017

John Coolidge Adams (b. 1947) is an American composer. His music is often very exciting, using minimalism with large orchestras and lots of different sounds. He’s named after John Adams, the 2nd President.

He studied music at Harvard University. After he had graduated he packed all his belongings into his Volkswagen and drove all the way across the United States to California where he got a job as a forklift operator. Soon he became part of the musical scene of San Francisco. He listened to the music of minimalist composers like John Cage, Terry Riley and Morton Feldman. By the mid-1980s he was earning a living as composer and conductor. The piece that made him famous was called Harmonium. At times the music is made to sound like a harmonium instrument, but the title also refers to “harmony”, showing that he is writing tonal music unlike some modern composers at the time whose music was getting harder and harder to understand because it was not in any key.

Adams wrote several short pieces such as Short Ride in a Fast Machine and The Chairman Dances.

March 2 – Vivaldi wins

Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice, Italy, which is where he spent most of his life. His father taught him to play the violin, and the two would often perform together.

Antonio continued to study and practice the violin, even after he became a priest. He was called the “Red Priest” because of his flaming red hair. However, after a while, his bad asthma kept Antonio from saying Mass.

After that, Vivaldi spent all his time writing music and teaching. He taught at an orphanage for girls, and wrote a lot of music for the girls to play. People came from miles around to hear Vivaldi’s talented students perform the beautiful music he had written.

Many people think Vivaldi was the best Italian composer of his time. He wrote concertos, operas, church music and many other compositions. In all, Antonio wrote over 500 concertos. His most famous set of concertos is The Four Seasons.

First performed by CSO: Concerto in D minor, 1940
Next performance by CSO: The Four Seasons, November 11, 2017

Embracing nontraditional scales and tonal structures, Claude Debussy is one of the most highly regarded composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is seen as the founder of musical impressionism, despite the fact that he tended to disavow the label. This designation, which was first applied to painters of the same era, refers to the evoking of a mood using harmony and tone color.  It is this style of composition with which Debussy is most closely associated, and he developed a highly original system of harmony and musical structure that expressed in many respects the ideals to which the Impressionist and Symbolist painters and writers of his time aspired.

First performed by CSO: Two Nocturnes: Clouds, Festivals, 1952
Next performance by CSO: La Mer, to be performed on April 27, 2017

March 1 – Joan Tower wins

Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than fifty years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras. Her music is noted by a number of defining qualities: driving rhythms and colorful  orchestrations influenced by the sounds and sensations of a childhood spent in South America; approachability for listeners and players alike, resulting from her engagement with the performers of her music (often written with specific musicians in mind) and her own performances as a pianist. She has written a number of works paying homage to composers such as Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Copland.

She was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission, Made in America. Its top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards, including Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

First performed by CSO: Island Prelude for Wind Quintet, 2002
Last performance by CSO: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 2, September, 2016
Next performance by CSO: Fanfare for the UnCommon Woman, No. 1, to be performed April 27, 2017

Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962) was born in Brooklyn, spent several years in East Tennessee and taught herself to play the flute when she was fifteen.  She started private lessons in flute when she was eighteen and began composing music when she was twenty-one.

As a Contemporary composer, she has written music for orchestras, small ensembles, choirs, solo vocalists, and wind ensembles.  She continues to write between five and ten pieces each year!  Her piece blue cathedral is one of the most performed works for orchestras and has been performed over 400 times since its premiere in 2000.

First recorded performance by the CSO: Blue Cathedral, 2011
Last performance by the CSO:
Violin Concerto, March 2015

February 28 – Rachmaninoff wins

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was born in Great Novgorod, Russia and is remembered as one of the greatest pianists and composers of the Romantic era.  Rachmaninoff began studying piano under his mother and entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory at age ten and graduating from the Moscow Conservatory.  In his childhood, Rachmaninoff was often exposed to liturgical chants and church bells which would figure in his later works.  After the Russian Revolution, Rachmaninoff immigrated to the US.

Rachmaninoff wrote four concertos, several symphonies, and many piano solos.  One of his most famous pieces orchestral is Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,  a piano concerto.  He also wrote several choral works including All Night Vigil, three operas, and other chamber music.

First recorded performed by CSO: Piano Concerto No. 2, 1949
Last performance by CSO: Piano Concerto No. 2, September 2016
Next performance by CSO: Symphonic Dances, to be performed October 19, 2017

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is widely considered the most popular Russian composer in history. He was born on May 7, 1840, in Vyatka, Russia. Among his most famed late works are the ballets The Sleeping Beauty (1890) and The Nutcracker (1892). He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate at Cambridge University and was considered a composer of universal significance. In 1891 the Carnegie Hall program booklet proclaimed him to be one of the three greatest living musicians, along with Brahms and Saint-Saëns. Music critics praised him as “a modern music lord”. Within Russia he was considered a national treasure, and his music was admired by all strata of society. He enjoyed the favor of the Imperial court, and was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension.

First performed by CSO: Andante Cantabile from String Quartet Op. 11
Last performance by CSO: Symphony No. 5, November 2016
Next performance by CSO: Piano Concerto No. 2, to be performed April 5, 2018

 

February 27 – Ola Gjeilo wins

Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo) was born in Norway in 1978, and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City. He is currently composer-in-residence with Voces8.

Ola’s concert works are performed all over the world, and his debut recording as a pianist-composer, the lyrical crossover album Stone Rose, was followed by its 2012 sequel, Piano Improvisations. Many of Ola’s choral works are featured on Phoenix Chorale’s bestselling Northern Lights album, which is devoted entirely to his music for choir.

A full-time concert music composer based in New York City, Ola is also very interested in film, and his music often draws inspiration from movies and cinematic music.

First performed by CSO: Across the Vast, Eternal Sky, 2014
Next performance by CSO: Dreamweaver, to be performed April 27, 2016

Mr. Gjeilo’s Dreamweaver has not yet been recorded. The CSO also performed his Sunrise Mass in 2014.

 

Composer Kendra D’Ercole (b. 1971, Palo Alto, CA) writes for a variety of ensembles, with works premiered in the United States and Europe.

Her creative interests center predominantly around vocal music, drawing inspiration from the expressive capacity of text.  Embracing a deep appreciation for playful humor as well as dark emotional drama, her pieces tend to reside on either end of this spectrum. She currently lives in Chandler, AZ.

First performed by CSO: Wie die Blätter des Herbstes herabfallen, October 2016

Ola Winner2016 WINNER

Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo) was born in Norway in 1978, and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City. He is currently composer-in-residence with Voces8.

Ola’s concert works are performed all over the world, and his debut recording as a pianist-composer, the lyrical crossover album Stone Rose, was followed by its 2012 sequel, Piano Improvisations. Many of Ola’s choral works are featured on Phoenix Chorale’s bestselling Northern Lights album, which is devoted entirely to his music for choir.

A full-time concert music composer based in New York City, Ola is also very interested in film, and his music often draws inspiration from movies and cinematic music.

First performed by CSO: Across the Vast, Eternal Sky, 2014
Next performance by CSO: Dreamweaver, to be performed April 27, 2016

Mr. Gjeilo’s Dreamweaver has not yet been recorded. The CSO also performed his Sunrise Mass in 2014

 

March 4 – James Stephenson wins with 70% of votes

Chicago area composer James Stephenson’s works have been performed by leading American orchestras and around the world, and have been hailed by critics as having “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds” (Boston Herald). His music incorporates a fresh and energizing sound scape that engages the audience while maintaining integrity and worthwhile challenges for the performing musicians. This rare combination has rewarded Stephenson with a host of ongoing commissions and projects.

His landmark educational work, Compose Yourself!, has now been performed over 250 times since its creation in 2002. Stephenson is also a highly sought after arranger, and he has recently added conducting to his musical palette. Before moving to Lake Forest as a full-time composer/conductor, Stephenson spent 17 seasons with the Naples (FL) Philharmonic as a trumpeter, a position he won immediately upon graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music. Stephenson is currently enjoying a position of Composer-in-Residence with the Lake Forest Symphony.

The CSO will perform its first performance of a piece by James Stephenson in the 2016/17 season.   Concerto for Violin, “Tributes” will be performed on March 2, 2017.

https://soundcloud.com/james-m-stephenson/stephenson-tributes-concerto

March 3 – Ola Gjeilo wins with 62% of votes

Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo) was born in Norway in 1978, and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City. He is currently composer-in-residence with Voces8.

Ola’s concert works are performed all over the world, and his debut recording as a pianist-composer, the lyrical crossover album Stone Rose, was followed by its 2012 sequel, Piano Improvisations. Many of Ola’s choral works are featured on Phoenix Chorale’s bestselling Northern Lights album, which is devoted entirely to his music for choir.

A full-time concert music composer based in New York City, Ola is also very interested in film, and his music often draws inspiration from movies and cinematic music.

First performed by CSO: Across the Vast, Eternal Sky, 2014
Next performance by CSO: Dreamweaver, to be performed April 27, 2016

Mr. Gjeilo’s Dreamweaver has not yet been recorded. The CSO also performed his Sunrise Mass in 2014

 

March 2 – Beethoven wins with 80% of votes

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was born in Bonn, Germany but spent most of his life in Vienna.  His family were court musicians and Beethoven began to study music at an early age. At age nine, he began to formally study music under the organist of the aristocratic court at Bonn. Later in life, Beethoven took regular composition lessons from Franz Joseph Haydn (although Beethoven did not like studying with Haydn) and was frequently engaged by nobility to give recitals.  He began to compose during the 1790s and his Symphony No. 1 was published in 1800.  At the same time, Beethoven began to suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which eventually led to total deafness.

Beethoven is celebrated as one of classical music’s “3 B’s” (Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms) and is an important composer of the early Romantic period.  Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies, 16 quartets, many sonatas, an opera, and other vocal and instrumental works.

First performed by CSO: Symphony No. 5, 1913
Next performance by CSO: Choral Fantasy, to be performed October 20, 2016

 

March 1 – Antonin Dvorak wins with 90% of votes

Antonín Leopold Dvořák (1841–1904) was a Czech composer of romantic music, who employed the idioms and melodies of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. His works include operas, symphonic, choral and chamber music. His best-known works include his symphonic works (above all “New World Symphony”), Slavonic Dances, String Quartets, Concertos for cello (Concerto in B minor) and violin, oratorial compositions Requiem, Stabat Mater and Te Deum.
From 1892 to 1895, Dvořák was the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. He had often used folk tunes and dance rhythms from his native Bohemia and the Czech Republic, and once in America he began to use folk melodies and themes that were native to America, including Negro spirituals. In the winter and spring of 1893, while in New York, he wrote his most popular work, his ninth symphony “From the New World”.

First performed by CSO: Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), 1934
Next performance by CSO: Symphony No. 7, to be performed January 26, 2017