Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra
Valentin Egel, Conductor
Josipa Bilić, soprano (Winner of the Ferdo Livadić International Competition of Young Musicians, 2022)
The Water Goblin, op. 107
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
Rejoice, be glad, KV 165
Symphony No. 8, in G major, Op. 88
Allegro con brio
Allegretto grazioso – Molto vivace
Allegro ma non troppo
MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAMME:
Notes by Dina Puhovski
Antonín Dvořák (Nelahozeves, 1841 – Prague, 1904) was a butcher’s apprentice in his youth, then an organist, a violist in small orchestras and a teacher. He was able to focus on his composing after receiving Austrian state grants for composers, awarded to him by a jury whose members included Hanslick and Brahms – the latter also Dvořák’s role model, who recommended him to his publisher. Dvořák and Brahms shared a preference for rich, absolute music, symphonic, but also chamber music. On the other hand, Dvořák often used national colours and singable melodies from folk tradition in his music characterised by late Romantic style. For a long time he was reluctant to leave Bohemia and move to Vienna, a major music centre, and insisted that the titles and other markings in his published works were always written in Czech, in addition to German. He later lived in New York for three years – allegedly accepting the position of a director of the newly established National Conservatory of Music in New York under the condition that the talented Native American and African American students who could not afford tuition study free of charge.
Dvořák wrote the symphonic poem The Water Goblin, Op. 107, after his return from the USA. It is one of his several works inspired by the collection of ballads A Bouquet of Folk Legends by the Czech poet Karel Jaromír Erben, from which he drew themes from the world of water fairies, love and monsters, also used in his opera Rusalka.
He selected and put to music four related poems with a rather brutal plot: A girl who goes to the lake to wash her clothes is taken by the Water Goblin to be his wife. She gives birth to a baby and has to leave him with the Water Goblin when she goes to visit her mother. Her mother persuades her to stay with her longer and the girl does not return to the Water Goblin on time, that is, when she hears the bells ringing. He threatens her and claims that the baby is hungry and waiting for her, and her mother tells him to bring them the baby. The furious Water Goblin kills the baby and leaves its body in front of their door.
The fairy-tale domestic abuse begins with deceptively cheerful music, the Water Goblin’s theme – the same three repeated notes that mark his presence throughout the piece. The girl’s theme is melodic, ending with the triangle (which, according to one interpretation, represents the sparkle in her eyes). The Water Goblin’s theme returns several times, forming a rondo; after a dramatic ascent, the piece ends quietly – with a coda, added to the story by Dvořák, in which the young mother drowns herself, the Water Goblin continues to rule the water world, and the water continues to flow.
Often described as ‘pastoral’, ‘euphoric’ and ‘picturesque’, Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 has one of the brightest atmospheres among Romantic symphonies, a combination of the composer’s technical skill and pronounced tendency to melodiousness.
The opening of the Symphony is slow and chorale-like, the first theme introduced after a crescendo. It develops from the spirited birdsong of the solo flute that sets the pastoral atmosphere of the movement, from which other themes and motifs develop and merge in the tempestuous culmination. The slow movement brings melancholic, darker sound and colours, reminiscent of Beethoven’s music with its choice of C minor key, among other things. The dancing, yet wistful Allegretto, with its cheerful trumpets, has a folksy feel to it, while the ‘confident’ sparkling finale brings pure musical joy.
Dvořák’s biographer Hans-Hubert Schönzeler considers this symphony ‘the most intimate and original’ of Dvořák’s symphonies, because Dvořák decided to write something completely different from his previous works. He adds that the Symphony ‘breathes the spirit of Vysoká, and when one walks in those forests surrounding Dvořák’s country home on a sunny summer’s day, with the birds singing and the leaves of trees rustling in a gentle breeze, one can virtually hear the music...’
During rehearsals of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, Czech conductor Rafael Kubelik said, ‘Gentlemen, in Bohemia the trumpets never call to battle—they always call to the dance!’
Tchaikovsky called him ‘musical Christ’, and Leonard Bernstein said that ‘it is hard to think of another composer who so perfectly marries form and passion.’ The Viennese genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Joannes Chrisostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart, Salzburg, 1756 – Vienna, 1791) is probably one of the most highly regarded composers in history and most of the details from his biography are well known. He received his first musical training from his father, Leopold, gave public performances since he was five, toured extensively and was, allegedly, fond of easy living, which required a lot of hard work. It is known that the two Weber sisters played an important role in his private life, while the music patrons who commissioned new pieces from him were essential in his professional life. Best described as elegant and ‘deceptively easy’, Mozart’s music remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration. He wrote symphonies, serenades, concertos, operas, Masses, the Requiem, as well as chamber music, and Franz Schubert once said that ‘a world that has produced a Mozart is a world worth saving.’
In 1772, sixteen-year-old Mozart wrote the opera Lucio Silla for the Teatro Regio Ducale in Milan. He went to Italy with his father, where he completed the work and heard in it for the first time the castrato Venanzio Rauzzini, renowned for his high and powerful voice. The following year he composed Exsultate, jubilate for Rauzzini, and revised it in 1779 or 1780. Today, it is usually sung by by sopranos. Mozart called the work a ‘motet’, and it indeed has a sacred text in Latin, by an unknown author, but also the richness of a true concert piece. Celebrating God and spreading joy found just the right medium in Mozart’s playful, yet elegant style; the final, virtuosic Alleluia is often performed independently.
Ivan Violić (Dubrovnik, 1982) received primary and secondary education in his hometown, at the Luka Sorkočević Art School. He earned his degrees in piano performance and piano education from the Zagreb Academy of Music in 2006, where he studied under Pavica Gvozdić. He completed his postgraduate studies of chamber music in Graz in 2012 (with Chia Chou). As part of the Erasmus student exchange he studied at the Institute for Electroacoustics in Vienna with Karlheinz Essl. In 2017/18 he received the Rector’s Award. He has appeared with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of the Academy f Music in Zagreb, the Zagreb Youth Orchestra, in the Virtuoso concert series, at the Krk Summer Evenings Festival, the Epidaurus Festival, the Darko Lukić Young Musicians Festival and the Osor Musical Evenings Festival. After completing his piano studies, he served as piano and accompaniment professor at the Albert Štriga Elementary and Secondary Music School in Križevci. He has worked at the Josip Hatze Music School in Split since 2019, and has been external associate of the Arts Academy of the University of Split since 2020.
Ivan Violić completed his studies in composition under Frano Parać at the Zagreb Academy of Music in 2019. His works have been performed within the HR Project, the Viruoso concert series, at the Showroom of Contemporary Sound, the ISA 2015, the Opatija Music Review 2016, in the Sebastian String Quartet Season 2016/17, as part of the bilateral project the Year of Culture Croatia – Austria 2017, at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and the Music Biennale Zagreb.
1. a work, performance, musical composition, recital etc. in honour of a notable artist or person, often rendered in his/her style
2. the oath of fidelity made by a vassal to his lord (from Medieval Latin homagium).
Each of my works is in some way a homage to those who created before me, or an oath of fidelity to 'Music'. In this case, I did not assume the style of a renowned artist, but used a part of an existing work as a ‘pre-idea’ for the composition. I use the term ‘pre-idea’ because the basic musical material grows almost completely independently of the significantly deconstructed template. I do not reveal the name of the artist and the work from which the part was taken because it is nonessential. What is essential is realised exclusively in the music domain. The coherence of the musical material is achieved through the use of classical principles of motivic development and the necessary dramatic arc. Nevertheless, the ‘borrowed' part becomes increasingly visible throughout the piece, so the name of the artist to whom homage is paid will not remain a mystery.
- Ivan Violić
Valentin Egel photo (c) Dražen Šokčević