January 27, 2018 | 8:00 pm | Keefe Center for the Arts (Parking and Directions)
Roderick Cox, conductor
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto
Fiddler Rhapsody and Scerzo
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, known for her role as the fiddler for Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof, performs Beethoven’s epic Violin Concerto in a concert featuring Beethoven's Third Symphony.
Roderick Cox has been recognized as "a trailblazer...a conductor who will be in the vanguard." (Minnesota Star Tribune). He currently serves as Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, and has conducted with the Cleveland and Chineke! Orchestras, and Seattle and Santa Fe Symphonies.
He is also conducting a performance for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C.
Bring your group to this concert! Learn more about benefits for parties of 10 or more by visiting our group sales page.
Click on the tracks below to listen to the music on this program.
Kelly Hall-Tompkins is the current fiddler for Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof. Watch the video below for her performance of the Fiddler Rhapsody and Scherzo.
Beethoven composed his Violin Concerto in 1806 during a period in which he created many masterworks, including his Third symphony, Fourth piano concerto, and several of his most important piano sonatas, including the Appassionata.
The piano was Beethoven’s primary instrument but he had also studied the violin as a young man and had played well enough to perform in an orchestra in his native Bonn. He had his friend, violinist Franz Clement in mind when he composed this work. Clement was a gifted artist who combined flawless intonation, particularly strong bowing technique, and a prodigious musical memory. Beethoven completed this work only two days before its premier and legend has it that Clement never had a full orchestral rehearsal before playing the concerto in public. It is also alleged that Clement inserted a trick composition of his own, played upside down on the violin on one string, into the first movement of the work. While it is true that he played his novelty piece during the concert, it was performed after completion of the concerto towards the end of the evening.
The first movement begins with five notes played by the tympani. This short, short, short, short, long rhythm is central to the work and underpins, punctuates, and inspires many of the thematic elements from which Beethoven builds the piece. This rhythmic motif is played by various instruments and at different speeds throughout the opening movement. The violin writing is often in the higher range of the instrument and the themes that were introduced by the orchestra are transformed by charming, fanciful, and virtuosic embellishments. The second movement is among the most serene music that Beethoven ever composed. This movement is based on a set of variations of a ten-bar theme. The third movement is a rondo allegro which again places virtuosic demands on the soloist. This movement features rustic elements that are played with dancelike energy and is guaranteed to bring a smile.
Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"
Imagine being one of the people who first heard the Eroica Symphony. From the moment of the two chords which open the piece, you would have known that something was very new. Those chords have both power and transparency; the power coming from their suddenness, sharp accents, and loud dynamics, and the transparency from the distribution of instruments creating an open feeling in the harmony. First performed publicly in 1805, the Eroica's opening movement alone was greater in length and scope than most prior symphonies. The symphony also demanded a new level of technical prowess and dramatic expression from the orchestra.
The first movement is in E-flat Major, with a tempo marked Allegro con brio (spirited, vivacious). After the first chords, the cellos play a simple tune using the notes of the key of the piece, but soon the orchestra drifts to an unrelated chord. The movement contains an abundance of agitated music characterized by off-beat accents, syncopations, metrical ambiguity, fast repeated notes in the strings, long arpeggios, and sudden shifts in tonality. Even the relatively more lyrical themes have an underlying drive to them and soon return to the stronger pulsations of the movement.
The second movement is a Marcia Funebre (Funeral March), marked Adagio assai. It starts quietly in the lower ranges of the strings in C minor (a key harmonically related to the E-flat Major of the first movement), but its feeling is agitated rather than mournful. The winds join, and the movement shifts back and forth from minor to major. There is a march-like interlude in a major key, followed by a powerful fugal section in minor. This is followed by a loud passage with brass long notes and the strings in rapid triplets. Other sections alternate the moods and instrumentation, and the movement ends with a soft statement of the original theme, but with silences repeatedly interrupting the melody.
The Scherzo (Allegro vivace) in triple time starts very softly and flies by. There is almost constant pulsing in the strings, with phrases in the woodwinds and brass. The trio middle section begins with a horn call finishing in a very high range, and the horns return to their motif several times throughout the trio. The reprise of the scherzo ends the movement with a crescendo to a robust ending.
The final Allegro molto is a theme and variations, based on an original tune that was one of Beethoven's favorites. He used this theme in a Contredance for Orchestra (1801), the ballet "Creatures of Prometheus" (1801), and a set of piano variations (1802, now nicknamed the "Eroica Variations"). Examination of his sketchbooks suggest that he wrote the symphony starting with the last movement and working backward to the first movement, further suggesting the importance of this theme to him. The movement begins with an energetic introduction. The theme which follows is very simple, though of course the variations are quite elaborate. The theme is introduced without the original melody but by the bass line played pizzicato. The melody doesn't actually appear until the third variation. Other variations are fugal, and later variations slow the tempo, first featuring a lyrical section with woodwinds and then a more assertive brass strain. A soft section with the woodwinds leads to an abrupt conclusion of the variations, with a Presto return to the music of the introduction.
There is an often cited story of the rescinded dedication for this symphony. Beethoven had admired Napoleon Buonaparte as representing freedom from tyranny, but when Napoleon declared himself Emperor, Beethoven was quoted by his student and personal assistant Ferdinand Ries as saying, "So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of Man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, [and] become a tyrant!" In a fit of pique, Beethoven scratched the Emperor’s name off the title page so forcefully as to tear the page.
Programs are subject to change. Tickets are nonrefundable. Group rates are available. Children age 5+ are welcome. Youth aged 5-15 are admitted free with an adult paying regular price, but all children must have a ticketed seat. Free youth tickets must be reserved by calling our box office Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Exchanges can be made up to 24 hours before the originally scheduled concert date for a fee of $5. Handling fees are waived for subscribers. Online ticket sales are available until 4 p.m. on the day of the concert. The box office at the concert venue opens two hours before the concert.