Many performers and artists impose a certain extramusical meaning to their recital programs, in an attempt to draw the works together as a whole into one larger purpose. In cases in which such themes, as they were, are not naturally derived from obvious similarities in form, style, character, and so forth, this approach often seems contrived. And I think that’s precisely because most composers really have meant exactly what they have said: through the music, with no extramusical meaning necessary.
However, in performances that seek to involve multiple forces and collaborators for the purpose of an extramusical meaning, such meaning is the single source from which the program springs. The meaning is not only necessary, but almost unequivocally absolute and central to the program of works itself, however diverse.
And therefore the approach works in its opposite form: such an extramusical meaning proactively unites a diverse program unto one purpose because such a program is built with the intent of supporting such a meaning, as opposed to a flimsy defense of the works’ right to co-exist on the same page … for an audience … in one sitting.
Such rightful intent, or rather “intensity”, of purpose, was certainly exemplified by “Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Antonín Dvořák; America is an Idea, not a Place” at Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall. At face value, this program could have been seen as a commemoration of Dvořák. It was, but it was so much more. Understanding so involved not only understanding Dvořák as a composer, but as an advocate for music education, and the future of musical thought. It would be best, or at least most honest, to copy a portion of the programs’s press release, which can be found here:
/ Antonín Dvořák, protégée, friend and collaborator of composer Johannes Brahms and musical heir to the tradition of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and many others, came to America in 1892. Dvorák was to initiate a revolution in America's thinking about its true artistic identity. Dvorák undertook this at the request of New York City's Jeanette Thurber, the creator of the National Conservatory of Music. This was the first American music school and one of the first institutions that brought together women, African-Americans, American Indians, and people of all colors, to create music at the highest level. His collaboration with the African-American singer/arranger Harry Burleigh and others proved that what Dvorák called a "great and noble school of music" could be created in America.
The original works Dvorák premiered at Carnegie Hall on Beethoven's birthday, December 16, 1893, at the very new Carnegie Hall, were his proof of that. That included his Symphony No. 9, "From The New World" at Carnegie Hall. Now, 125 years later, on December 18, 2018, the FFRCC will celebrate this epic moment in history, in Classical culture, and for America, on that very same Carnegie Hall stage.” /
I was honored to perform L.v. Beethoven’s Sonata op. 110 in A-flat major, as the invocation and epilogue of this unique musical drama. To be a part of this extramusical meaning: one that unites classical music’s past
A video from rehearsal: