Expressive works by three contemporary English masters: in the music of Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten and William Walton, despair, hope and a sense of humour stand side by side.
William Walton (1902–1983) wrote his “comedy overture” Scapino for orchestra for the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony in 1941. Here, he draws inspiration from a print from the 17th century which depicts Scapino, one of the permanent characters in commedia dell’arte. Here, the servant regularly helps his master Harlequin with the latter’s romantic escapades – that is to say, if he isn’t having an adventure himself.
Benjamin Britten (1913–1976) wrote his Violin Concerto in 1938–39, which was performed for the first time by the New York Philharmonic in 1940, with Spanish violinist Antonio Brosa. The concerto is characterised by Britten’s despair following the facists’ victory in the Spanish civil war, which had recently ended. Britten was a pacifist, and had moved to the United States in 1939 in order to avoid being sent to war. When he travelled back to Britain in 1942, it was decided that music was his greatest contribution, and he was granted exemption from military service.
Edward Elgar (1857–1934) achieved great success in the first decade of the 20th century with his Enigma Variations and his Pomp and Circumstance marches. Rumours that he was composing a symphony circulated for years, and there was great excitement when his first symphony eventually reached concert halls in 1908. Elgar’s original idea had been to write a symphonic tribute to the famous general Charles Gordon. But when it was completed, he noted that the symphony had no other agenda than to depict “a broad experience of human life, with great love and hope for the future”.
(Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)
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With Louisa Tuck in Glasshuset (in Oslo Concert Hall) at 18.30.