Picasso and his influence
 Brave New Works


Brave New Works Presents
Picasso and his influence on composers

June 13, 2002
7:30 pm

Music of modernism

The turn of the 21st century was a time of exploration and dramatic change in art and science. Old barriers were broken, new invention and concepts, in a sense, a new world order was made. 
Brave New Works is presenting a program in conjunction with the opening of the Picasso exibit at the University of Art Museum exploring modernism in music, particularly as it relates to Picasso.

In visual arts the great debate was representation versus abstraction, in music, tonality versus atonality. This program includes reporesentatives of both views. Schoenberg was the creator of the twelve tone technique. He saw it as a continuation of what came before, a natural step in the evolution of composition, in a same way that cubism grew out of previous movements such
as primitivism. Millhaud and Poulenc represent a French style that undoubtedly was greatly influenced by the impressionists, and stayed in the fringes of tonality. Stravinsky created great ballets for Diaghilev's Ballet Russes in Paris and pushed the limits of the muscial language as well as the audiences. Suite Italienne is a Suite from the ballet "Pulcinella" for which Picasso himself created the set-design. Finally, the most resent of the compositions, Rorem's String Quartet takes inspiration from the master himself- each movement in the work depicts a certain painting of Picasso.

Picasso: Masterworks from the Collection 

June 8-September 15, 2002
Museum Apse 

During his artistic career (which lasted more than seventy-five years and earned him the reputation as the most famous artist of the twentieth century), Pablo Picasso created thousands of works in a wide range of media-paintings, sculptures, prints, and ceramics. From his pioneering role in Cubism, Picasso continued to develop his art at a pace and with a vitality that mirrored the accelerated technological and cultural developments occurring around him. UMMA will present an overview of Picasso's prolific career drawing principally from the Museum's own extensive holdings of his works. The exhibition will feature approximately thirty-five pieces, including drawings, prints, and oil paintings dating from 1905 to 1968. The UMMA collection is one of the few, if not the only, university collections with this kind of depth in its Picasso holdings, and this project will mark the first time such a large body of these works have been shown together. 


Arnold Schoenberg
Phantasy for violin and piano
Maria Sampen, violin
Marilyn Shrude, piano

Picasso, Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Suite Italienne
Katri Ervamaa, cello
Winston Choi, piano

Louis Marcoussis, Darius Milhaud, 1936
Darius Milhaud
Sonata Op. 47
Emily Perryman, flute
Jared Hauser, oboe
Deborah Chodacki, clarinet
Winston Choi, piano


Francis Poulenc
Mouvements Perpetuels
Emily Perryman, flute
Matthew Ardizzone, guitar

Cocteau, Ned Rorem
Ned Rorem
String Quartet
The Dexter String Quartet
Esther Noh, violin
Maria Sampen, violin
Tim Christie, Viola
Andrea Yun, cello

Since its formation in April of 2000 in Ann Arbor Michigan, the Dexter String Quartet has been received to public acclaim in both Ann Arbor’s university community and in concert venues statewide for its presentation of Classical and Contemporary string quartet repertoire.  The Dexter formerly served as the resident string quartet of the University of Michigan Contemporary Directions Ensemble.
 Individually, the members of the Dexter have studied at some of the finest musical institutions in the United States and abroad, including Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory, the Shepherd School of Music, the University of Michigan, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Aspen Music Festival, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Pacific Music Festival.  With specializations ranging from improvisatory jazz to baroque performance practice, each member brings a unique experience and expertise to the ensemble.
 In its first year, the Dexter has coached extensively with Andrew Jennings at the University of Michigan, Lorand Fenyves, Laurence Lesser, as well as with saxophonist Donald Sinta, composers John Zorn and Michael Torke, and conductor Steven Byess.  In February, the quartet recorded music for the television show ‘Xena: Warrior Princess,’ which aired later that month.  The group’s first commission, ‘FINDS’ for String Quartet, by composer Tom Schnauber was premiered in February of 2002.  In the summer of 2002, the Dexter Quartet will be in residence at the Musicorda festival in South Hadley, Massachusetts. 

Program notes
Arnold Schoenberg
Phantasy for violin and piano
One of the most influential and at times controversial figures in music of the 20th century, Arnold Schoenberg never witnessed overwhelming success in his lifetime.  Even today, many shy away from the abstract sounds of his atonal Expressionist and twelve-tone periods.  Glenn Watkins calls this “disparity between the acknowledged importance of the music of Arnold Schoenberg and the minimal attention given to it in the concert hall” “one of the most interesting paradoxes of contemporary music” (Soundings, p. 24).  Schoenberg, however, was firmly rooted in the traditions of his Viennese musical ancestors and thought of his own music as a logical step in the Mozart-Beethoven-Brahms continuum.  He wrote that his “own work arose clearly and naturally out of a post-Wagnerian chromaticism and post-Brahmsian asymmetrical phrasing.”  “Schoenberg admired the compact richness of [Brahms’] harmonic language and his ability to spin themes, sections and even entire compositions from a few small motifs. For Schoenberg, these procedures of Stufenreichtum (abundance of scale degrees) and ‘developing variation’ paved the way towards an ‘unrestricted musical language’ of the 20th century” (New Grove, “Brahms”).  Other profound influences for Schoenberg were the music Gustav Mahler and Alexander Zemlinsky and the art of Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Kokoschka, and Richard Gerstl.
Schoenberg spent most of his formative years in Vienna.  He was born into a Jewish family of Czech descent.  In 1898 he converted to Lutheranism but still was a victim of the hardship and persecution faced by the Jewish population of Vienna.  Schoenberg was largely self-taught.  His only private instruction came from fellow Viennese composer, Zemlinsky.  Teaching, however, would be a large part of Schoenberg’s life and among his pupils and disciples one can list Alban Berg, Anton Webern, and John Cage.  The social and musical hardships of life in Vienna led Schoenberg to take up residence in Berlin three different times (1901-3, 1911-15, 1925-33) before finally leaving Europe altogether and immigrating to the United States.  Although his life in the United States was more prosperous than that of many European émigrés of the era (he managed to make a living teaching and lecturing at various academic institutions), Schoenberg still struggled to reconcile the life he left behind in Europe.  He contemplated a return to Austria several times during his years in America but was deterred by the continued deterioration of his health. 
Schoenberg composed his Phantasy for Violin, opus 47 in 1949.  It was written for Adolf Koldofksy who gave the first performance of the work at Schoenberg’s 75th Birthday celebration concert.  Schoenberg took the unusual approach of writing out the violin part in its entirety before turning to the piano part.  The piece is made up of five sections.  The first and last contain similar material and both showcase difficult displays of harmonic double stops for the violin, huge intervallic leaps and swiftly contrasting dynamics.  The scherzando sections in the center of the piece are evocative of waltz or dance patterns and throughout the work, one can hear moments that hearken to Brahms both metrically (duple against triple patterns) and harmonically.
-notes by Maria Sampen

Francis Poulenc
Trois mouvements perpétuels (1918)
The French composer Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was 14 years old and living in Paris when Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring took that musical capitol by storm.  Picasso’s reputation there had bloomed more gradually, but was already in full flower when Poulenc began issuing his earliest works.  These included the Trois mouvements perpétuels of 1918.  This work for piano shows the young, precocious Poulenc displaying a simplicity of expression which would remain his trademark.  The mouvements enjoyed a great deal of popularity among amateur pianists in Europe.  It is performed here in an arrangement for flute and guitar. 

It is for the straightforward simplicity and directness of his writing that Poulenc was at one time dismissed as a serious composer.  However, appreciation has grown for Poulenc’s gift with mélodie.  Few 20th-century composers were able to mine the fields of tonal music for new, beautiful melodies (and indeed many of them would abandon tonal music altogether).  In this way, he has been compared with Schubert, who created remarkable new music without making significant harmonic innovations.  In the art world, Picasso was of course far more groundbreaking, and is more readily identifiable in the musical world with Stravinsky.  Still, there is a two-dimensional directness and clarity to his Cubist 
-notes by Matthew Ardizzone

Ned Rorem
String Quartet #4 (1994)
1. Minotaur
2. Child Holding a Dove
3. Acrobat on a Ball
4. Still Life 
5. Seated Harlequin
6. Head of a Boy
7. Basket of Flowers
8. Self-Portrait
9. Three Nudes
10. Death of a Harlequin

Yes, Picasso’s paintings did impel this suite, yet to subtitle it “Picasso” seems nervy and irrelevant (nervy, in hitching my wagon to the great man’s star; irrelevant, in that no music irrefutably depicts other than itself).  But yet again, composers do often seek to conjoin their art with another art—with the poetry of song, for instance, and more exceptionally with the visual, by representing through sound their special “Pictures at an Exhibition.”  So when the chips are down, will I remove the titles and simply offer my work like the abstraction that it is?  Or will I retain the titles?  You, reading this, will know the ultimate decision—that I want it both ways.

The music came rapidly, four of the movements being composed in January of 1994, the six others during a fortnight at Yaddo in July.  Most of the ten “Pictures” are related thematically, and all are related—I pray—theatrically.  The central piece is Self Portrait, which bears the interpretive suggestion: “with horror and indifference.”  While feeding solely off the given material, this movement means unequivocally to portray the schizoid temper of any artist—or, indeed, any human—whose hot urge for self-expression is met by the cold self-protection of his alter ego.  Thus is it too, though more hidden and serene, in the nine other sections.

Now, lest this program-note melt into psychobabble, I’ll only add that the music was commissioned by the South Mountain Association especially for performance by the Emerson String Quartet, and that it lasts about twenty-six minutes.
-notes by Ned Rorem

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