DARKO BUTORAC, Music Director
Recently praised by the Westdeutsche Zeitung for his "elegance and well-timed pacing", Maestro Darko Butorac is establishing himself as one of the world's most sought-after young conductors. Following his debut with the Belgrade Philharmonic in January of 2011 he was invited to both close the 2011 and open the 2012 concert seasons. In addition to his activities in Belgrade, notable concerts include collaborations with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Neuss and the Georgische Kammerorchester Ingolstadt (Germany), the Rubinstein Philharmonic of Lodz (Poland), the Tallin Sinfonietta (Estonia), and a debut at the celebrated Vienna Konzerthaus with the Slovenian Radio Orchestra in the spring of 2014.
Since taking the baton in 2007, Butorac has propelled the Missoula Symphony Orchestra to a new level of musical achievement, with an expanded repertoire and local premieres of works by established and emerging composers. Butorac and the orchestra have shared the stage with renowned guest artists including Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie, pianists Stewart Goodyear and Antonio Pompa-Baldi, and celebrated actor J.K. Simmons. The Symphony’s growing popularity has ignited ticket sales and established Butorac as a cultural leader in the community. An enthusiastic ambassador for classical music, he also creates the award-winning “Downbeat DownLow” podcasts with radio personality Leah Lewis.
Within North America, Butorac has been featured as a guest conductor with the Charleston Symphony, the Canton Symphony, the Springfield Symphony, Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers, the Montana Lyric Opera and as the Principal Conductor of the Northwest Mahler Festival in Seattle. In May of 2013 Butorac was hired as the new Music Director of the Tallahassee Symphony in Florida, following a two-year long international search. Highlights of his guest conducting engagements abroad include the Mendoza and Neuquen Symphonies in Argentina, the Xiamen Philharmonic in China, the Slobozhansky Orchestra and the Kharkov Philharmonic in the Ukraine, and annual visits with Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra of Parma as the principal conductor of the Fidenza Opera Festival in Italy.
In 2003, Butorac was awarded a fellowship by David Zinman to study at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival. Upon his return to the festival in 2004, Butorac was named Assistant Conductor of the Aspen Opera Theater Center and worked with Julius Rudel and Arnold Oestman. He has also worked extensively at the Brevard Music Center, Aspen Music Festival and Indiana University. His principal mentors are David Effron, Jorma Panula, Imre Pallo and David Zinman. For more information on Butorac, please visit www.darkobutorac.com.
GREGORY SAUER, cello soloist
Gregory Sauer joined the faculty of the Florida State University College of Music in 2006. A native of Davenport, Iowa, Gregory Sauer attended the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory. His principal teachers included Ada Marie Snyder, Charles Wendt, Paul Katz, Laurence Lesser, Bonnie Hampton and Colin Carr. Prior to his arrival at Florida State, Mr. Sauer taught at the University of Oklahoma for eleven years, and was named Presidential Professor in 2005. Other teaching positions have included a visiting professorship at the University of California at Los Angeles, and instructor for summer programs such as the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and the Hot Springs Music Festival.
Praised for his versatility, Mr. Sauer has appeared in recitals at the Old First Concert Series in San Francisco, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, and the Brightmusic Concert Series in Oklahoma City, among many others. Mr. Sauer is a prizewinner in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Ima Hogg National competitions, and has performed concertos with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the Quad City Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Sauer holds the position of assistant principal of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra and served nine seasons as principal cellist of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a member of the Fidelio String Quartet, Greg has performed in concerts throughout the United States, including festival appearances at Tanglewood, Aspen Music Festival, Round Top Music Festival, and Chamber Music West. Mr. Sauer serves as co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Quad Cities, and has appeared in chamber music settings recently with Santa Fe Promusica, at the Garth Newel Music Center, the Colorado Music Festival, and the Boulder Modern Music Festival.
Yearn for Freedom
October 3 & 4, 2015
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) — Dances of Galanta
By 1882, the musical traditions of Hungary were widely known to concertgoers around the world. Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, Bizet’s Carmen, Brahms’ Hungarian Dances and numerous lesser known works had familiarized the public with the folk music of the Hungarian countryside — and, especially, with the music of the gypsies.
Into that world Zoltán Kodály was born. The son of a stationmaster for the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Railroads, Kodály was immersed in the rich culture of his homeland from a young age, thanks to his father’s several work transfers. Later in life, he would recall in particular his powerful memories of the years he spent during grammar school in the small village of Galanta, home to a celebrated town band that played old gypsy music.
Those memories, together with the influence of his parents — both avid amateur musicians — led him to pursue a triple career as a composer, teacher and ethnomusicologist. Today, Kodály’s legacy is equally significant in all three of his chosen fields. His compilations of folk songs stand among the most important ethnomusicological studies of the 20th century. Every college-educated music teacher knows of the “Kodaly method” of music education. And his compositions stand among the best works of his era.
The best known of his works, the “Dances of Galanta,” draws explicitly on his childhood years in Galanta and the music he heard. That music, in turn, had its roots in books of local gypsy songs published nearly a century earlier. Kodály drew upon specific tunes from that collection to create “Dances of Galanta,” a five-movement work played without pause. Each of the movements follows an old style known as verbunkos, in which a tune is first presented in lyrical, often sultry fashion and then whipped into a fast frenzy. While the material had distant roots, Kodály drew it into the harmonic world of the 20th century through masterful orchestration that relies heavily on the clarinet.
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) — Cello Concerto in C major, Hob. VIIb:1
Today, Franz Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C stands as arguably the first great concerto in the Viennese Classical tradition. Haydn would later go on to produce more than a dozen concertos for instruments including violin, keyboard, flute and even obscure instruments such as the lire organizzate (a stringed instrument played with a crank). In the process, he established a formula and spirit that would be mimicked and elaborated by composers including Mozart, Beethoven and generations of others.
Ironic, then, that this formative, first major concerto of Haydn was known to none of those later composers, and has only become familiar to concert audiences within the last half-century.
Since Haydn’s death in 1809, historians have been aware that quite a number of the prolific composer’s early works had been lost. Among those was a Cello Concerto in C, composed between 1762-1765. Later in life, Haydn mentioned the work’s existence in a list he compiled of his own works; but it was not published at the time and did not ever surface in Haydn’s own papers. For more than 250 years it was presumed lost.
Then, in 1961, the musicologist Oldich Pulkert found the orchestral parts to a previously unknown cello concerto while doing research in the National Museum in Prague. Pulkert matched the music he found with a written fragment of the lost Cello Concerto that Haydn had notated in his catalog. After considerable analysis, musicologists declared the work genuine — a rare (though not unprecedented) discovery of not just a historically significant document, but also of a true musical masterpiece.
Here Haydn can be heard elaborating on Baroque ingredients — particularly the interplay between soloist and orchestra — but with a markedly more direct, less ornamental approach than was common in the concertos of earlier composers. Melodies are clear, lyrical and full of life. Each movement is written in sonata form — a balanced structure of musical elaboration that became the foundation of much music of the later Classical period. And the whole thing plays out in wonderful balance: an energetic first movement contrasts with a lilting, almost dreamy second movement, followed by a charming finale marked by dashing flourishes in the orchestral and solo parts alike.
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) — Symphony No. 5, op. 47, D minor
Dmitri Shostakovich was only 28 years old when his second opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, premiered in Leningrad. The young composer had enjoyed remarkable success in his as-yet-brief artistic life, and the opening of Lady Macbeth initially confirmed and furthered his reputation as an up-and-coming genius. According to critics, not since Tchaikowsky’s Pique Dame had Russian music known anything equal to the magnitude of Shostakovich’s opera.
But then, in January of 1936, Joseph Stalin attended a performance of the opera. Infuriated by, among other things, the opera’s satirical portrayal of the police, Stalin stormed out in disgust. Immediately, the Communist Party paper, Pravda, wrote a scathing review, entitled “Chaos Instead of Music.” Referring to Shostakovich’s music as nothing more than “din, gnash and screech,” the article sealed the fate of the opera, which immediately closed and was not performed in Russia again for 27 years.
Shostakovich was crushed. Long frustrated by the repressive structure of Soviet society, he experienced for the first time direct censorship and public rebuke.
Knowing that he would have to appease the party censors in order to ever have his work performed again, Shostakovich set out to compose his next symphony, the Fifth. Subtitled “A Soviet artist’s reply to just criticism,” Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony is widely regarded as one of history’s great artistic works of political dissidence. Though the finale of the symphony ends with roof-rattling fanfare, Shostakovich wrote late in his life that, “I think that it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth...It’s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, ‘Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,’ and you rise, shakily, and go off muttering, ‘Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.’”
Even a first-time listener will hear this conflicted character within the music. But truly, what makes Shostakovich’s Fifth such a great work isn’t its ideas. It’s the music. From the introductory declamation by the cellos to the last thump of the bass drum, this is music of transcendent power and emotional resonance — music that plumbs the most challenging conflicts of the human condition.
The first movement takes us on a journey from a state of mortal angst to a mysterious equanimity. The second movement is playful, ironic and energetic, punctuated by some of the symphony’s most exuberant moments.
Then comes the profound third movement — at once prayerful, hushed and grippingly intense, its melody passed like a flickering candle between instruments. All irony is gone; Shostakovich is transporting us from the surface experience of life to its purely intuitive and emotional experience.
That leads to the finale, one of the most gripping pieces of music in the orchestral repertoire. The drums pound, the pace quickens, the trumpets call and, ultimately, there erupts a fanfare unlike any other — resignation, triumph and transcendence all at once.
It is music that perfectly encapsulates a place and time. And it is music that connects with us no matter where or who we are. That is what makes this certainly the greatest symphony of its era, and a perfect opening bookend for a concert season that will mine some of the richest veins of the classical repertoire.
- Joe Nickell