By: Freya Pruitt & Tumora Mead
Avery Fisher Hall; Photo by Chris Lee
Music is the mystery of the soul. Whether you play the violin, flute or cello- music is the reason to play…. sometimes it is the very reason to live. A true musician cannot lay their instrument down. It is a part of his spirit…his mind..his life. A solo artist is an animal in itself, but a group of extraordinary musicians, gathered together to make the music one force, one sound, one purpose- now that is another animal entirely. That, dear readers, is the greatest orchestra in the world: The New York Philharmonic.
When you enter Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, there is a quiet cloud of reverence- an anticipation of an expectation of greatness. When you clutch your ticket in your hand and enter the great hall, decades of conductors’ and musician’s spirits greet you with an air of expectation: You KNOW great music will be shared tonight! When you take your seat and face the stage, the orchestra gracefully enters and take their seats. With a posture of power and elegance the conductor takes his position, raises his baton and addresses this group of extraordinary musicians who anxiously await his lead….waiting to move together in a seamless wave of connection of purpose; to make great music. A great orchestra is truly a phenomenon. As 60 human beings gather together to communicate through Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach or a modern day composer, their purpose is clear; it is just about musicians coming together in one seamless thread of musical perfection. One might think The NY Philharmonic has always been a study in perfection, but that perception has been a long and hard road of dedication, perseverance and a whole lot of faith. Greatness depends on creation, but that creation often depends on circumstances and unforeseen journeys in life.
The NY Philharmonic is no exception to that rule, as it has forged towards its place in history with waves of upheavals, challenges and in the end, its greatest accomplishments finally being realized. With 106 orchestra members, The NY Philharmonic proudly employs profoundly talented musicians who have served the community by producing great music around the world. There is a great art in achieving one great sound produced by 106 people! There is also an art to producing orchestra members serving in one great orchestra for over 50 years! Just to name a few of the most loyal participants: Martin Eshleman;violin, 57 years. Newton Mansfieled; violin, 41 years. Carol Webb;violin, 35 years. Glenn Dicterow; concertmaster, violin 32 years- Irene Breslaw; viola, Assistant Principal,violin, 36 years! Wow! Where do you see statistics like Bernstein; New York Philharmonic Archives that in today’s society! Bravo to all! And bravo to all where “room” did not allow for 106 names! Bravo!
Ladies and gentleman, with great pride, affection and honor, TTW proudly presents the history of the greatest orchestra in the world.
But, as you read, please remember the gift of music comes from the heart and soul- it comes from dedication and honor. Music is a gift to be used to grace humanity with its extraordinary beauty of sound.
When 106 people come together as one, magic happens and great music is created. May God continue to bless this great orchestra and may God continue to bless the world with the musical gift of The NY Philharmonic.
In 1842, The Philharmonic was founded by a group of local musicians led by American-born Ureli Corelli Hill. The New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and one of the oldest in the world. It currently plays approximately 180 concerts a year and on May 5, 2010, gave its 15,000th concert — a milestone unmatched by any other symphony orchestra. Alan Gilbert began his tenure as Music Director in September 2009, the latest in a distinguished line of musical giants that has included Lorin Maazel (2002–09); Kurt Masur (Music Director 1991–2002; Music Director Emeritus since 2002); Zubin Mehta (1978–91); Pierre Boulez (1971–77); and Leonard Bernstein (appointed Music Director in 1958; given the lifetime title of Laureate Conductor in 1969).
Since its inception, the Orchestra has championed the new music of its time, commissioning or premiering many important works such as Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World; Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3; Gershwin’s Concerto in F; and Copland’s Connotations. In addition to the U.S. premieres of works such as Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 8 and 9 and Brahms’s Symphony No. 4. This pioneering tradition has continued to the present day, with works of major contemporary composers regularly scheduled each season, including John Adams’ Pulitzer Prize– and Grammy Award–winning, On the Transmigration of Souls; Melinda Wagner’s Trombone Concerto; Wynton Marsalis’s Swing Symphony (Symphony No. 3); Christopher Rouse’s Odna Zhizn; John Corigliano’s One Sweet Morning, for mezzo-soprano and orchestra; Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2;and, as of the end of the 2011–12 season, 14 works in “CONTACT!”, the new music series.
The roster of composers and conductors who have led the Philharmonic includes such historic figures as Theodore Thomas, Antonín Dvořák, Gustav Mahler (Music Director, 1909–11), Otto Klemperer, Richard Strauss, Willem Mengelberg (Music Director, 1922–30), Wilhelm Furtwängler, Arturo Toscanini (Music Director, 1928–36), Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Bruno Walter (Music Advisor, 1947–49), Dimitri Mitropoulos (Music Director, 1949–58), Klaus Tennstedt, George Szell (Music Advisor, 1969–70), and Erich Leinsdorf.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING….
Long a leader in American musical life, the Philharmonic has become renowned around the globe, having appeared in 431 cities in 63 countries on five continents. Among many of it’s World Tour’s, in February 2008 the musicians, led by then-Music Director Lorin Maazel, gave a historic performance in Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — the first visit there by an American orchestra and an event that was watched around the world, and for which the Philharmonic received the 2008 Common Ground Award for Cultural Diplomacy. The heart and soul of this great orchestra reached
across continents-across social and economical boundaries-across the great divide of religion and foreign diplomacy, and reached into a communist country by the power of its music; rightfully taking its place as a piece of living history. To the children of the world: You are the hope of a new tomorrow. Take the lead of The NY Philharmonic- they are a true example of who a hero truly is. They have taken music into a foreign land and helped all people speak a language that only music can hear and feel. This orchestra continues to develop a wide range of education programs including its long-running Young People’s Concerts which began in 1924. During the 2005–06 season the Orchestra introduced Very Young People’s Concerts, intimate events that introduce preschoolers to musical ideas and concert going through performances as well as games, stories, and hands-on music-making with Philharmonic musicians. These continuing efforts help to forge a future in which we, as well as our children and their children, can continue to be whisked away and uplifting by symphonies and their powerful performances.
THE ETERNAL HOPE OF MUSIC…..
Since the memorial concert for Abraham Lincoln in 1865, the New York Philharmonic has responded to tragic events by making music. In an effort to bring people a sense of remembrance and peace the Philharmonics have performed many works not only to help us in a time of mourning, but also to give us a sense of hope. In 1957, during their performance of McDowell’s “Dirge”, it is said that everyone in attendance stood the entire 8 minutes as a dedication to the fallen heroes of WWI. Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” became iconic and symbolized the tragedy of death during FDR’s memorial and was also performed during the 2011-2012 season’s The Insights Series along with John Corigliano’s “One Sweet Morning” in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of September 11th, 2001.
During WWII, A League of Composers commissioned 17 works, of which many premiered and were performed by the Philharmonics, to document the time of war and a way of bringing people together. In tribute to the memory of JFK, just three days after his assassination, they performed the entire 80 minute movement of Mahler’s second symphony “Resurrection” on CBS, the first time any symphony of that size had been seen on television. We have continued to see an endless pattern of destruction and war throughout history across the globe and the NY Philharmonics have shown us that the beauty and majesty of music can lift your heart and ease your soul. In his words, Composer John Corigliano said “In these days we must look forward to the days when the rose blooms and where the sun comes out and spring arrives and there is no more war! It will be one sweet morning!” May God continue to bless the New York Philharmonic as one of the greatest American treasures of all time.
THE UPCOMING HOLIDAY SEASON…….
November 29 – December 1:
Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Premiere of Symphony by Steven Stucky, a New York Philharmonic Co-Commission with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Pulitzer Prize winner,with whom the Philharmonic has had an ongoing relationship, was the host of the Philharmonic’s Hear & Now series from 2005-2009. The Orchestra has previously performed the World Premiere of Stucky’s Rhapsodies (a Philharmonic Co-Commission), in 2008; selections from Spirit Voices, on a Young People’s Concert in 2008; and Son et Lumiere, in February 2012. The program will include Barber’s Violin Concerto, with Gil Shaham as soloist, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.
Emmanuelle Haim makes her Philharmonic debut leading performances of Handel’s Messiah. The harpsichordist and conductor are known throughout Europe for her interpretations of the Baroque masters, and especially for her interpretations of Handel’s operas.
The first CONTACT! Concerts focus on New York-based American composers and will be led by American Conductor Jaye Ogren in his Philharmonic debut, and feature soprano Elizabeth Futral. The program will feature works by three young composers including World Premiere – New York Philharmonic Commissions by Andy Akiho (2012) and Jude Vaclavik (2012); one New York Premiere – Andrew Norman’s Try (2011) – and the ensemble version of counterpoise (1994) by the late Jacob Druckman, who served as the Philharmonic’s Composer-in-Residence from 1982-1986. December 31: The New York Philharmonic performs its annual New Year’s Eve celebration – featuring Michael Feinstein, James Galaway, and Federica von Stade. The program, to be announced at a later date, will be broadcast nationally on PBS stations through Live From Lincoln Center.