Tuning up for a new direction

KU Symphony Orchestra begins fall season under fresh baton

The Kansas University Symphony Orchestra will usher in its fall season with the sounds of Richard Wagner, Franz Joseph Haydn and Antonin Dvorák 3 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Lied Center.

Under the direction of Nicholas Uljanov, KU's new director of orchestral activities, the concert will feature "Prelude to 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg'" by Wagner, "Symphony No. 44 in E minor, Trauersymphonie" by Haydn and "Symphony No. 8 in G Major" by Dvorák.

These selections reflect the beginning of a diverse season for the orchestra, which Uljanov said would include everything from Mozart to lesser-known composers.

"I want to give the students the opportunity to work with many styles and many composers," Uljanov said.

The "Prelude to 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg'" is one of the most famous orchestral introductions to a music drama by Wagner (1813-1883), indisputably the most important German opera composer of the 19th century. The opera involves the life of Hans Sachs, a famous German Meistersinger of the Renaissance. Meistersingers were amateur composers who wrote songs for their own enjoyment and for performance before their guild.

Unlike some of Wagner's operas, which are very chromatic and harmonically complicated, "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" (1868) is more traditionally tonal, a feature heard in the stirring fanfares that dominate the "Prelude."

Haydn (1732-1809) is the first truly important symphonist of the Classic Era. He wrote at least 104 of these works for orchestra, which constituted the grandest instrumental statements of the time. His "Symphony No. 44 in E minor," nicknamed the "Mourning Symphony," is an excellent example of Haydn's middle-period works.

Dvorák (1841-1904) was an important Czech nationalist who composed in most genres current during his day. Although he spent most of his career in Europe, he was director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. Among his nine symphonies, the "Symphony No. 8 in G" (1889) remains a favorite among many listeners for its sunny disposition and four strong movements.


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