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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Feb. 14, 2003

University Symphony Presents "French Legacy" Feb. 26, Broadcast By IPTV

Click here for symphony photo

Photo: Anthony Arnone

The University of Iowa Symphony will present "The French Legacy: Celebrating Berlioz's 200th Birthday," the fourth concert in the 2002-03 Signature Series of subscription concerts, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of William La Rue Jones, will feature cellist Anthony Arnone as soloist in the "Elegie" of Gabriel Faure. Other works on the program will be Berlioz's best known score, the "Symphonie fantastique" (Fantastic symphony) and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Paul Dukas.

The concert will be taped by Iowa Public Television for broadcast at a later date, making it the first University Symphony concert to be slated for statewide broadcast since James Dixon's final concert as director of the symphony in 1997.

Made widely popular with the Disney animation in the film "Fantasia," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" -- first performed in Paris in 1897 -- is the story of a young magician's apprentice who tries to lighten his workload by experimenting with magic spells he has seen his master use.

Just as in the Disney film, the apprentice commands a broom to fetch water, with disastrous results. The broom obliges all too well and the apprentice finds that he does not know how to make the broom stop. Just when the room fills with water, the sorcerer returns and takes command with a few magic words, and peace returns to the scene.

Known to American audiences chiefly for his lovely Requiem and a handful of songs, Faure was one of the most distinguished figures of his generation in France. A student of Camille Saint-Saens, he held a series of increasingly important organist's posts from the 1870s into the 1890s. He was appointed to the Paris Conservatory, in 1896 as professor of composition and in 1905 as director. In these positions, he taught an entire generation of French composers including Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger.

Published first as a piece for cello and piano, his "Elegie" was arranged for cello and orchestra by the composer in 1895 at the request of Edouard Colonne, founder of a popular concert series in Paris. The "Elegie" was scheduled to receive its premiere in 1897, but was not performed until April 26, 1901, when the famed Spanish cellist Pablo Casals appeared as soloist.

One of the landmarks works in the development of the 19th-century Romantic style from the Classic style of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, Berlioz's "Symphonie fantastique" was written in 1830, when the composer was 27.

One of the most original talents in the history of European music, Berlioz had relatively little formal training. He played flute and guitar as a young man, but he went to Paris to study medicine. Subject throughout his life to strong passions, the young Berlioz fell in love with music and against his family's objections he abandoned medicine and at a relatively late date in his life, he began studies at the Paris Conservatory.

One night in 1827 he attended a performance of "Hamlet" and in spite of the performance being in English, Berlioz fell in love again, twice: once with the plays of Shakespeare, which were to inspire a whole generation of Romantic artists with their emotional intensity, and then with the Irish actress who played Ophelia, Harriet Smithson. After the performance, Berlioz wandered the streets of Paris in a stupor, only coming to his senses when he found himself at a cafe table the next morning.

Under the twin influences of the fantastic world of expression he found in Shakespeare's plays, and of his love for Smithson -- which she initially rejected, finding the young composer alarmingly unbridled with his emotions -- Berlioz wrote the "Symphonie fantastique." Its five movements were based loosely on the outline of the classical symphony, which Beethoven had already stretched in his Ninth Symphony and other late works.

In almost every other way, however, Berlioz's symphony was a work of unprecedented originality. The melodic structure is completely original, harmonies have a logic of their own and the sound of the orchestra is entirely Berlioz's invention. In the words of historian Edward T. Cone, "The proof of its great originality is that today, almost a century and a half later, it still sounds like no other music."

Perhaps most famously, the use of a program running through the five movements, while not unknown in earlier works, is here carried to an extreme of literalness that no other composer of the time had imagined. Briefly, the five movements follow the obviously autobiographical story of a young artist, dreaming in the first movement of his beloved, who is represented by a memorable theme. In the second movement, the theme is heard again in the midst of a ball. Next, the artist goes into the country, where thoughts of his beloved are mingled with the sounds of shepherds' pipes and a distant thunderstorm. In the lurid final two movements, the artist dreams first of being executed for the murder of his beloved, and then of a witch's Sabbath where he is mocked by her spirit.

That's where the story ends in the symphony, but in real life the ending was different. Berlioz invited Smithson to a performance of his symphony in 1832. Although mystified by the piece, she agreed to meet Berlioz, and they were married in October, 1833. Alas for the composer, she turned out not to be Ophelia or Juliet, but an ordinary Irish actress. They were never happy together, and separated in 1844.

Now in his second year on the UI string faculty, Arnone is a founding member of the Meriden Trio and the Sedgwick String Quartet, which regularly performs at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. He was principal cellist of the Madison Symphony in Wisconsin 1996-2001, was a member of the Orchestra Philharmonique de Nice and the Wichita Symphony, and was principal cellist of the Spoleto Festival in Italy 1992-1997.

Arnone has taught master classes and performed across the country and currently teaches summers at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina and the Stonybrook Music Festival in New York. Before coming to the UI, he held a faculty position at Ripon College in Wisconsin where he taught cello and bass, music theory and chamber music, and conducted the orchestra.

A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral studies. Prior to joining the UI faculty, Jones was the founding music director/administrator of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Jones is a highly honored musician, having received the Twin Cities Mayors' Public Art Award, the American String Teachers Association Exceptional Leadership and Merit Award and the David W. Preuss Leadership Award. He has also been selected Musician of the Year by Sigma Alpha Iota , a music honorary society.

Jones has appeared as a guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonie Orchester AML-Luzern (Switzerland) and other orchestras around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival orchestras in 46 states and five Canadian provinces. He has been conductor-in-residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).

General seating ticket prices for the concerts in the Signature Series are $7 for general admission ($5 for seniors and $3 for UI students and youth). Tickets are available from the Hancher Auditorium Box Office.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:< http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher >.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <hancherboxoffice@uiowa.edu>.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <ur-acr@uiowa.edu>.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072, peter-alexander@uiowa.edu.

PHOTOS are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa/photos.html.