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Gregorio Prestopino (American, 1907–1984) Donkey Engine, 1948 Gouache on paper Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; Advancing American Art Collection 1948.1.29

Collection Spotlight: Gregorio Prestopino

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In this collection spotlight, advanced art history students in Dr. Emily Burn’s class Art of the United States have prepared two practicum exhibitions opening this fall.Pieces selected for the exhibitions were chosen from the museum’s permanent collection. The research below is from “The American City: Tourists and Denizens.”

Gregorio Prestopino
(American, 1907–1984)
Donkey Engine, 1948
Gouache on paper
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; Advancing American Art Collection
1948.1.29

Rattling on the tracks, wheezing of steam, and grinding of gears as the engineer navigates from train-to-train—Gregorio Prestopino’s Donkey Engine invokes these noises. This painting communicates the radial churning of pistons around wheels easing this once majestic vehicle to a halt in the foreground of a train yard. In the background to the right, subway cars and boats repeat their daily routine. Born in the Lower East Side of New York City at the turn of the century, Prestopino is understood as a social realist because of his depictions of the grit and toil of city life. Here Prestopino draws attention to the docks and workers of the Lower East Side, highlighting labor vital to the city’s existence, yet often overshadowed by the glamour of urban life.

Gregorio Prestopino (American, 1907–1984) Donkey Engine, 1948 Gouache on paper Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; Advancing American Art Collection 1948.1.29

A Little Lunch Music, 11/16/2017: Acclaimed Pianist Performing Music by Granados, Chopin, Beethoven

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On Thursday, November 16 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the Auditorium by pianist Vijay Venkatesh, in collaboration with the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta. The program will feature music by Enrique Granados, Frederic Chopin, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Gifts from Virginia Transue, Patricia Giordano, and anonymous friends of the series have helped to make this performance possible.

Click here for our calendar page for the event which includes the series’ fall schedule and more about its performers.

The critically acclaimed Venkatesh is a native of Orange County, California. At age 14, he made his orchestral debut with the South Coast Symphony and since then has performed with orchestras in the United States and Austria.

A winner of first prizes in competitions around the U.S., he was named a Davidson Fellow and honored with an award ceremony and reception at the Library of Congress. He is a 2009 alumnus of National Public Radio’s “From the Top.”

Thursday’s program will feature music by Enrique Granados, Frederic Chopin, and Ludwig van Beethoven.

“Goyescas” is a piano suite by Granados, who lived around the turn of the 20th century. Venkatesh says paintings by Francisco Goya inspired the music. Thursday’s program will include the suite’s first movement, “The Maiden and the Nightengale.”

“It’s actually one of my favorite pieces,” Venkatesh said of the movement. “I try to play it at every concert.”

Venkatesh says Granados later composed an opera based on the piano suite. In the opera version, this movement is an aria. In the scene, two men are sword-fighting for the love of the character Rosario. She flees from the fight to a courtyard where she sings to a nightingale about her distress.

“It’s a Spanish love piece that is full of Spanish themes of Machismo,” Venkatesh said. “There’s a lot of machismo in this scene.”

Venkatesh says he tries to let his own life experiences affect the way he interprets the music he plays. Playing different pieces and immersing himself in other cultures can often reveal things hidden within a piece of music. “Every time I play a piece, there are intrinsic seeds of DNA that are there to be discovered,” he said.

Venkatesh says Chopin’s scherzo, programmed for Thursday, is technically demanding and full of patriotic themes connected to Poland, the composer’s homeland. Though scherzo means joke, he says Chopin’s scherzos are very serious pieces.

Chopin died at 39, sick with tuberculosis and what was likely heart disease. Historians have speculated that he also suffered poor mental health. But Venkatesh says Chopin’s music remained strong.

“I don’t think he let that sickness translate into his music,” Venkatesh said. “‘It’s guns covered in roses,’ is what a lot of people say.”

Venkatesh will also perform one of Chopin’s nocturnes, a genre Chopin made famous. In contrast to the scherzo, nocturne means “night song” or “love song” and is often filled with languid, lyrical melodies.

“Chopin is actually one of the greatest melody composers,” Venkatesh said. “He was great at expressing unrequited love. A lot of these love songs I think are speaking about himself in the third person.”

Also on Thursday’s program will be Beethoven’s final piano sonata, “Sonata No. 32 in C Major.”

By the time Beethoven was writing his last three piano sonatas, he had gone completely deaf. In these pieces, compared to the composer’s earlier sonatas, Venkatesh hears what is possibly a more inward source of inspiration. He says their chromatic harmonies and sudden changes in volume and mood possibly reflect Beethoven’s state of mind and his frustration as he faced the struggles at the end of his life.

“It’s all culminating in this [final] two-movement sonata,” said Venkatesh. He describes the first movement as tempestuous and majestic, the second as spiritual and relinquishing. “It’s almost as if Beethoven’s soul is transitioning from this world to the next.”

A Little Lunch Music is coordinated by Patrick McCurry. It is an informal, weekly series that features national and international performers as well as the region’s professionals and students. The schedule can be found on the museum’s calendar at jcsm.auburn.edu.

For more information, contact Scott Bishop, Curator of Education and University Liaison, at bishogs@auburn.edu or 334-844-7014.

Patricia Crispino

A Little Lunch Music, 11/9/2017: Series Featuring Duo Music for Clarinet and Piano

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On Thursday, November 9 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert by clarinetist Patricia Crispino with pianist Beibei Lin. The program will feature music by Robert Muczynski, Darius Milhaud, Norbert Burgmuller, and Francis Poulenc. Gifts from Phyllis Stanaland, Ruth Crocker, and anonymous friends of the series have helped to make this performance possible.

Click here for the concert’s event page with more about the performers and the full concert schedule for Fall 2017.

Crispino says she grew up in a military family that moved around a lot. Because of that, she didn’t start learning music when others her age did. But even as a latecomer, she took quickly to the clarinet. “I loved it,” she said, adding that it was so important to her, her parents sometimes used it as leverage if Crispino ever misbehaved.“One of the ways my parents punished me was saying, ‘I’m going to take that clarinet away from you.’”

There are things that are special about the clarinet to Crispino. She says among all instruments, it has one of the widest ranges. She says it is unique in the way its sound is consistent throughout its full range. She adds that it is not only the tone quality of the clarinet that remains consistent, but also how versatile it is.

When Crispino speaks of a versatile sound, she means that the instrument can be played at its highest, lowest, and anywhere in between with the same gentleness or the same force as anywhere else in its range. She says whether it’s using certain subtle ways to play a melody or making a tone-color change, anything is possible at any range.

“The instrument will not prohibit you from getting the sound you want,” she said.

Thursday the duo will perform Robert Muczynski’s “Time Pieces for clarinet and piano, Op. 43.” Crispino says the composer wrote the piece with an awareness that the instrument is so versatile.

“It’s great at showcasing evenness, range, articulations, and balance,” said Crispino of “Time Pieces.” She adds that is it a demanding and well-rounded piece.

The composer Norbert Burgmüller died in 1836 at the age of 26. Crispino says his death was lamented as tragic by his colleagues, some of whom were famous composers such as Louis Spohr and Robert Schumann. They saw Burgmüller’s potential to enter history as one of its greatest composers.

Thursday, The duo will perform Burgmüller’s “Duo for clarinet and piano in E-flat major.” Crispino describes it as having lots of exchange of melody and a big ending.

Crispino has performed with Theatre Tallahassee, the Solon Center of the Arts Opera, Solon Philharmonic, Waco Symphony Orchestra, Austin Chamber Players, and Yakima Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed for the Cleveland Composers Guild, Waco Symphony Sunday Sounds Series, and can be heard in the short film, “Blue Disquietude.”

Based in the Tallahassee area, Crispino freelances in North Florida, directs the clarinet choir Tallahassee Breezes, teaches, and is an Ophthalmic Technician at Southern Vitreoretinal Associates.

Crispino says she and Lin met at a Bible study at Florida State University where they were both doctoral students. After that, they began playing together.

Lin has appeared as guest recitalist, pedagogue, and adjudicator throughout the United States. She debuted as a soloist with the MasterWorks Festival Orchestra at age seventeen, performing Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto. Recent performances include the 2016 International Double Reed Society Conference and the 2017 Women Composers Festival of Hartford.

Lin’s research in the field of piano-pedagogy trends in 21st-Century China has been featured in publications and conferences. She has appeared as a performer, presenter, and panelist at The Sport Professionals’ Experience and Research Conference, speaking on interdisciplinary topics relating to music and sports performance. She currently teaches at Columbus State University.

A Little Lunch Music is coordinated by Patrick McCurry. It is an informal, weekly series that features national and international performers as well as the region’s professionals and students. The schedule can be found on the museum’s calendar at jcsm.auburn.edu.

For more information, contact Scott Bishop, university liaison and curator of education, at bishogs@auburn.edu or 334-844-7014.

JCSM Museum Shop Art Sale Dec. 2

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Eat, drink and buy art!

Join JCSM, as we invite up to 12 artists for a specially curated, one-day seasonal event on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. Our featured artist is nationally acclaimed quilter, Cathy Fussell. Shop unique, hand-crafted gifts and decorative items. The Museum Cafe will have savory bites, cocktails and mocktails available for purchase as you make your selections. Martha’s Trouble will perform between 12 and 3:00 p.m. Galleries will also be open with special exhibitions from the permanent collections and loaned works from art collectors. Free admission, advance ticket reservations encouraged.

A quilter for almost 50 years, Cathy Fussell works out of her home studio in Columbus, Georgia, where she produces both hand-quilted and machine-quilted pieces. She makes traditional quilts, art quilts and modern quilts, and she salvages vintage quilt tops.

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Stephanie Edstrom Jewelry creates original custom jewelry designs, handcrafted in Auburn, Alabama that are modern, timeless and sophisticated.

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In Deborah Strawn’s words, “For many years now I have been in love with glass. It never disappoints when it comes together on the table. And at that moment, as the light passes through the work, it explodes with color.”

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Tammy Reese has recently worked as an assistant teacher at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. She uses a relatively new technique of powder printing in glass.

Holiday Hours at JCSM for 2017

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Museum Hours of Operation

Spend your holidays here at Auburn’s art museum with our special holiday hours. Galleries and the Museum Shop will be open for you and your family to enjoy. The Lethander Art Path and Museum Grounds also offer nearly 20 pieces of sculpture to walk and explore.

The museum will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on
Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 22-23

We will reopen on Friday, Nov 24 and Saturday, Nov 25 from 10-4:30 pm Sunday, Nov 26 from 1-4:00 pm.

The Museum Cafe will be closed Monday, Nov 20- 26 and will not reopen until Tuesday, November 27.

The museum will be closed for the Christmas holiday from Sunday, Dec. 24- Tuesday, Dec 26.

We will reopen on Wednesday, Dec 27 from 10-4:30 pm.

We will also be closed for New Years from Sunday, Dec 31 – Tuesday, Jan 2
We will reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 3 from 10-4:30 pm.

Museum Shop Events

“Eat, Drink & Buy Art” on Sat., Dec. 2 for 12  to 6 p.m.

RSVP for Dec. 2 Art Sale

JCSM invites nationally acclaimed quilter, Cathy Fusselll, with Stephanie Edstrom, Gene Houston, Deborah Strawn and more! Enjoy cocktails, festive mocktails and small bites while you browse 12 hand-selected artists. Martha’s Trouble will perform from Noon to 3 p.m.

Museum Shop Sale on Thurs. Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Members receive 20% off items in the Museum Shop, and the general public receives 20% off. Stop by during our regular hours of operation, and find something unique.

Family and Community Programming

Community Night: A Celebration of Diversity, on Thurs., Dec. 7 from 5 to 8 p.m.

RSVP for Community Night

Join us for our first biannual Community Day. Our theme is celebrating diversity in the Auburn community. It will be a wonderful day to appreciate being together before winter break–with hot chocolate, cider and cookies (while supplies last).

  • Take a focused look at a single piece of artwork during “A Little Art Talk” at 5 pm.
  • Create vellum paper lanterns about your community with LocAL Market artists during our drop-in studio from 5 to 8 pm
  • Enjoy music and other performances by local musicians and artists
  • View artwork from JCSM Outreach Program Participants
  • Have conversations with diverse groups over cookies, hot chocolate and cider

Our partners: Auburn Heritage Association, Auburn Pointe School of Dance, Boys and Girls Clubs, Congregation Beth Shalom, Auburn, COSAM Diversity Ambassadors from the College of Sciences and Mathematics, LocAL Market and Ursula’s Catering.

Nikolai Klotchkov

A Little Lunch Music, 10/26/2017: Auburn Student from Russia will Perform Concert Saxophone Music

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On Thursday, October 26 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert in the Grand Gallery by saxophonist Nikolai Klotchkov with pianist Mari Ito. The program will feature music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Jacques Ibert, Ryo Noda, and David Maslanka. Helping to make this performance possible are a gift from Larry Gerber and Louise Katainen and a gift from Anonymous Friends of the Series.

Click here for A Little Lunch Music’s fall 2017 schedule with more about the performers.

Born in Alabama to Russian parents, Klotchkov’s family moved back to Moscow soon after he was born. He credits his choice of saxophone to early teachers who played the instrument. He said in 7th or 8th grade, he started studying with concert saxophonist Alexey Volkov.

In the late 1990s, one of the the only ways for Russians to go abroad was to study American history in the US, said Klotchkov. He said there were a lot of exchange programs in the south, and his mother Elena Klotchkova [CORRECT SPELLING] came to Auburn to study southern US history. He said his father Andrei Klotchkov took a staff job in the engineering school.

When looking into college, Klotchkov said one of the main factors was finding the opportunity to do a double major. “That is impossible in Russia,” he said. But at Auburn, it’s common, and with his family connections to the school, it was an easy choice. Now a senior, he is double majoring in Music Performance and Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in neuroscience, exercise science, and computer science.

Klotchkov said his non-musical studies are intended to enhance his career as a performer and teacher. He is researching exercises that can be used by any musician, mental processes and perceptions of music performers and music listeners, and ways to analyze the data.

“Hopefully I will be able to find some explanations of how the energy from the performer is received by the audience,” said Klotchkov. When playing a concert, he has the same concerns as with his research. “You need to think about what you expect your audience is experiencing,” he said.

Japanese composer Ryo Noda, born in 1948, also moved to the United States to study saxophone. Klotchkov said Noda often writes saxophone music to mimic traditional Japanese sounds. Noda’s piece “Phoenix” will be on Thursday’s program.

Klotchkov will play a transcription of the “Gigue” movement from Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Violin Partita No. 2.” Both the piece by Bach and the piece by Noda are for solo saxophone. Separated by 300 years, the pieces are different.

Klotchkov said Bach’s music is driven by its harmony, which means how the chords move through the piece. Even though the saxophone only plays one note at a time, Bach wrote the music using the notes to strongly imply a harmonic progression.

Klotchkov said Noda’s work has familiar harmonic sounds, but Bach’s music has more of a harmonic richness. Noda’s music is more about changes in the way the saxophone creates its tone, said Klotchkov, adding that Noda’s pieces are beautiful, and do a great job showcasing the sound of his instrument.

Thursday’s program will include two pieces written for alto saxophone and piano, one by French composer Jacques Ibert and another by American composer David Maslanka.

A Little Lunch Music, 10/19/2017: Award-Winning Italian Classical Guitarist Will Perform

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On Thursday, October 19, from noon to 1:00 pm in the Auditorium, the series will present a free concert by classical guitarist Edoardo Catemario, in collaboration with the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta. The program will feature music by Erik Satie, Johann Sebastian Bach, Heitor Villa Lobos, Francisco Tarrega, Frédéric Chopin, Domenico Scarlatti, Claude Debussy, and Isaac Albeniz.

Click here for the event page on our calendar with more about the performer and the full schedule for fall 2017.

Thanks to gifts from anonymous friends of the series for helping to make this performance possible.

A native of Italy, Catemario was born in Naples. He started his music studies at the age of five and gave his first solo recital at age eleven. He has won first prizes in national and international competitions including the prestigious Andrés Segovia Guitar Competition in Almunecar, Granada.

Catemario will open Thursday’s program with music by Erik Satie, who lived around the turn of the twentieth century. Through his life and music, Satie was reacting against social conventions of his time, said Catemario, adding that he was escaping the common world through drugs.

“His music reflects this world of dream,” said Catemario of Satie. The pieces by Satie on Thursday’s program are extremely fragile and full of reflection, said Catemario. Originally written for piano, they come from two works called Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes.

Even Satie’s titles were dreamlike. Gnossiennes was a word made up by Satie, and though used by others at the time, the meaning of Gymnopédie is unclear. “As a matter of fact, Satie liked to make fun of the words,” said Catemario.

Catemario said on Thursday he will pair Satie’s music, and other pieces with similar sounds and moods, with music whose composers were more concerned with conventions like form, melody, and harmonic progression. He said in doing this he hopes to create what he called “sentimental tension,” or using music to affect the emotions of his audience.

“Performers have a great power,” said Catemario. He said over time he has learned to synthesize what he hears in the music with what people in his audience are feeling. “I recognize in the pieces the structures that can be used to create this kind of tension,” he said.

Catemario compared the ebb and flow of emotional tension and release to building a series of arches, as in architecture. “This idea of balance is extremely common in Italian culture,” he said, pointing out that Italy has many arches. He said he thinks of himself as a storyteller and uses his programs to play that role. “I tell stories with the only thing I know, a collection of sounds,” he added.

Paired with Satie will be a prelude and fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach. Guitar transcriptions of piano music by Romantic composer Frédéric Chopin, a nocturne and waltz, will precede sonatas by Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti.

The audience will hear music by Brazilian Impressionist composer Heitor Villa-Lobos side-by-side with that of Francisco Tarrega, a more conservative Romantic-period composer from Spain. Catemario will finish the program pairing Claude Debussy’s famous and dreamlike “Claire de Lune” with more rhythmic and dramatic music by Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz.

Hye Yeon Nam (Louisiana, b. 1979) Floating Identity, 2017 Plexiglas and silicone (kinetic sculpture)

Share and save: “Out of the Box” Event Pics

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JCSM is so grateful to have so many friends and new visitors to the Out of the Box: A Juried Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition outreach programs and grand opening celebration. We hope you had a great time and will share and save your favorite pictures.

With a varied exhibition schedule featuring historic and contemporary art and more than 200 free arts programs per year, JCSM has transformational experiences for all ages and stages!

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A Little Lunch Music, 10/12/2017: Concert Will Show Classical Guitar’s Spanish Links

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On Thursday, October 12, from noon to 1:00 pm in the Grand Gallery, the series will present a free concert by classical guitarist Dan Kyzer. The program will feature music by Alexandre Tansman, Domenico Scarlatti, Luigi Legnani, and Antonio Lauro. Thanks to anonymous friends of the series for supporting this performance.

Click here for a link to the calendar event page with more about the artist and the full schedule for the series.

Classical guitar music has strong ties to the music and culture of Spain. Thursday’s program will reflect some of that influence.

Two sonatas by Baroque Spanish composer Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) will be on the program. Kyzer said that in some of Scarlatti’s more than 500 piano sonatas, the composer appears to have written passages with the intention of mimicking the sound of guitar strumming.

Though the modern design of the guitar did not exist during Scarlatti’s time, Kyzer said some of Scarlatti’s sonatas show influence from Flamenco, a formalized Spanish music derived from the region’s folk music. Guitar has been a common instrument in Flamenco for centuries.

Kyzer said not all piano pieces work well on guitar, but Scarlatti’s music often does, in part because of the Spanish connection.

Kyzer said he credits the 19th-century Spanish luthier Antonio de Torres for creating the modern design for the guitar. Kyzer said in part, it comes from the oud, a middle-eastern stringed instrument brought to Spain by the Moors in the Middle Ages. He said similar instruments in European music were the Baroque guitar and the lute, but they were smaller and quieter.

According to Kyzer, the ability of a guitarist to produce different kinds of sounds comes in large part form Torres’ design of a large, resonant soundboard. The soundboard is the part of the instrument that is most visible from the audience. It’s the flat piece behind the strings.

“We have this whole sort of color palette that we can use,” said Kyzer. For example, he said he can make subtle changes to the angle of the fingernail on a string, or to how much flesh to combine with the nail. He said these kinds of choices can change the timbre of notes from a breathy clarinet to a tinny trumpet.

“It’s one of the most unique things that we can do on the guitar,” Kyzer said. He referenced virtuoso classical guitarist, Andrés Segovia, also from Spain, who said the guitar could replicate all the orchestral instruments.

“Segovia was the most influential classical guitarist of the twentieth century,” said Kyzer, adding that the virtuoso revolutionized the instrument. Many great performers will pay composers to write works for them. But people would freely write music for Segovia, Kyzer said.

In 1949, Segovia chose to include in his repertoire Alexandre Tansman’s “Cavatina,” a four-movement suite of dances written for the virtuoso. Not satisfied that it ended on a slow movement, Segovia asked the composer to write a fifth, said Kyzer. In deference to guitar royalty, Tansman complied, penning “Danza Pomposa” as the finale. Kyzer will perform the piece Thursday.

Italian violinist and guitarist Luigi Legnani lived during the nineteenth century, in the Romantic Period of music when Torres’ guitar design was becoming popular. Legnani’s “Fantasia, Op. 19,” will be on Thursday’s program. Kyzer said it uses ideas from the Classical Period, about 100 years earlier. He said the composer was looking back, using earlier ways to organize the music with more symmetry and fewer melodic ideas.

Kyzer said this was common for classical guitar composers. They tended to write in slightly older styles compared to those writing in more mainstream genres such as symphony and string quartet. “It’s probably because the instrument was in its infancy,” said Kyzer. He added it was a novelty to write melodies for an instrument that had been used for centuries to strum chords.

Yet another guitar connection to Spain is its prevalence in Latin American music. Venezuela was colonized by Spain in the sixteenth century, gaining independence in the early nineteenth. Kyzer will play dance pieces by Venezuelan 20th-century composer Antonio Lauro.

“I play them because they’re just so pretty,” said Kyzer of Lauro’s works. He said if he had a specialty, it would be finding really interesting themes and really good melodies. He said Lauro’s music fits his M.O.

classical guitarist Dan Kyzer

A Little Lunch Music, 10/5/2017: Jeremy Samolesky to Perform Music from Romantic Period

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On Thursday, October 5, from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert by pianist Jeremy Samolesky. The program will feature music by Franz Schubert, Frédéric Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johann Sebastian Bach (from the Bach-Busoni editions). Thanks to gifts from Drs. T. and Soma Nagendran and from Anonymous Friends of the Series for helping to make this performance possible.

Thursday’s program will be repeated as a ticketed concert at Auburn University’s Goodwin Hall at 7:30 on October 23. The two Auburn performances will be part of Samolesky’s upcoming tour of six schools in the southeast plus Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York.

Samolesky will play Franz Schubert’s “Klavierstück No. 2 in E-flat major,” written the last year of the young composer’s life in 1828. Also on the program will be Frédéric Chopin’s mid-1830s composition “Ballade No. 1 in G minor,” Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Sonata in E major, Op. 109” from 1820, and a Ferruccio Busoni arrangement of “Chaconne in D minor” for violin by Johann Sebastian Bach.

In the early-to-mid 1800s, the piano began its final development into its modern form. This came at a time when Romantic-Period composers like Chopin and Franz Liszt were writing almost exclusively for the instrument, ushering in a kind of golden age of the piano.

Samolesky said many of the most famous piano pieces are from that time. The Classical Period had all but ended, its music known for musical ideas developed with symmetry and organized into established forms. The Romantic composers broke from that tradition, writing music that was more intense and dramatic, driven by beautiful melodies.

Even Beethoven, whom Samolesky said took Classical forms about as far as they could go, in the end began to abandon those ideas. The “Sonata in E major” was Beethoven’s 30th piano sonata, and began his movement toward romantic and spiritual themes, said Samolesky.

“He’s expressing a new voice,” Samolesky said of the sonata. “The form is still there, but there’s a profound message within the music,” he said, adding that it is nostalgic and more reflective.

During the life of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), the piano was in its infancy. Bach’s keyboard works included music only for harpsichord and organ. But as the piano became more popular, so did Bach’s music. For instance, Samolesky said Liszt arranged of all of Bach’s organ sonatas for piano four-hand.

The Steinway company was founded in 1853 building concert pianos. In the decades that followed, other companies began mass-producing them. More and more, the piano became common in Western homes. Samolesky said with no radio yet to broadcast performances, these arrangements were a way people could enjoy Bach’s music at home.

Busoni, who lived around the turn of the 20th century, was a very famous concert pianist, said Samolesky. “His music was full of extreme virtuosity,” he added. He said pianists like Busoni were literally rock stars of that generation. Also a composer and arranger, Busoni is possibly best-known for his editions of Bach’s music arranged for the piano.

The instruments Bach had to work with, such as the violin and harpsichord, were mostly smaller and limited in their abilities compared to the modern piano. The pianist said for this reason, many might think of Bach’s music as quiet and perhaps unable to express the full range of human emotion. But he said he believes that with access to the modern piano, Bach would have used its full capability. And Busoni would have agreed, judging by his version of the Chaconne.

Samolesky believes that Busoni’s interpretation of the solo violin piece is as romantic in its expression as the masterpieces of Chopin and Liszt. Though Samolesky said Busoni kept the notes and harmonies true to Bach’s original, he uses the full physical and emotional range of the piano to build to a victorious finale.

Chopin’s ballades are his hits, said Samolesky. “They have everything in them,” he said, adding that they are a storytelling journey, with many different moods and characters. Samolesky said that most of the pieces on Thursday’s program display the very Romantic notion of struggle toward redemption at the end. But Chopin’s “Ballade No. 1” is the exception. He said it has the struggle, but “comes crashing down onto a minor chord.”

Samolesky said he enjoys playing the entirety of piano repertoire. But returning to the more famous and dramatic Romantic music is helpful. “I’ve taught most of these pieces, and put together a program of some of my all-time favorites,” he said. He added, “You get a lot of emotional and physical satisfaction from playing Romantic music.”

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