Sons who go into the family business are often less successful than their fathers. In the case of the J.S. Bach family, though, it was just the opposite. Four of the ten Bach children who survived to adulthood went on to careers as composers and the two represented in this weekend's St. Louis Symphony concerts—Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-1788) and Johann Christian (1735-1782)—went on to eclipse dad in popularity, at least during their lives.
As anyone who has ever taken a "music depreciation" course knows, Johann Sebastian Bach was almost as prolific a father as he was a composer. This weekend, Nicholas McGegan leads the St. Louis Symphony in a concert that's a genuine Bach family affair, featuring music by both J.S. Bach and two of his musical sons.
If the 1807 premiere of Beethoven's "Mass in C major" at the court of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy had been as good as the performance we got from David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Friday night, the prince might have been less of a jerk with the composer afterwards.
This weekend two of the three works on the St. Louis Symphony program are making their first appearances on the Powell Hall Stage. That's not exactly news; the SLSO has given local audiences a good many local and even world premieres over the years. What's remarkable is that this time the local premieres are by Beethoven.
We may never know who first applied the nickname "Jupiter" to Mozart's last symphony—American musicologist Daniel Heartz posits that it was impresario Johann Peter Salomon—but it's not hard to see why the name stuck.
Have you ever wondered who comes up with those descriptive little subtitles that accompany so many notable compositions? I'm talking about Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata, Mendelssohn's "Scotch" Symphony or the "Gypsy" rondo movement from Haydn's "Piano Trio No. 39"? The answer varies, but the one thing you can count on is that it probably wasn't the composer.
Phrases like "family entertainment" and " recommended for all ages" are far too often euphemisms for "dull and unimaginative," as though children were simply very dim adults who could only be trusted with the performing arts equivalent of plastic scissors. Fortunately, the folks at Disney/Pixar know better.
The Bach Society of St. Louis Christmas Candlelight Concert has been a St. Louis tradition since 1951 and, as this year's sold-out edition proved tonight, that tradition is grounded in fine musicianship and intelligent programming.
In my last symphony preview post, I gave you a glimpse at the upcoming Christmas concerts. This time, let's look at the post-Christmas action.
The Macy's Holiday Celebration concerts with the St. Louis Symphony have, of late, fallen into a pattern that's as familiar and cozy as a bulky red woolen sweater. This year, I'm happy to report, is no exception.