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Pictures at an Exhibition

September 2018


   8:00 pm Friday, September 28, 2018 | 7:00 pm Take Note with Neal Gittleman   
   8:00 pm Saturday, September 29, 2018 | 7:00 pm Take Note with Neal Gittleman  

Sundae Classics on September 30 features a closer look at these works by Bruch and Mussorgsky. CONCERT PAGE


BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1
MUSSORGSKY-RAVEL Pictures at an Exhibition


Rich with romance and orchestral color, this program illustrates the power of music to create elaborate visions in the mind and deep feelings in the heart. Of course, each of us conjures different imagery when we hear certain sounds, rhythms, melodies and harmonies. That's the attraction of these three masterpieces: to take you to three very different places. The program is also notable in that two of the works started life as solo piano compositions and were subsequently given their opulent orchestral attire by a second composer. Also, the same two works were inspired by visual art!

The first example is Debussy's piano piece L’isle joyeuse (The Joyful Island), which was initially inspired by Antoine Watteau's painting L’Embarquement de Cythère. This happy scene depicts a group of revelers as they depart for the mythical island of Cythera, birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love. The music also came to symbolize the Channel Island of Jersey, off the coast of Normandy, France, where Debussy escaped with Emma Bardac, who became his second wife. He revised L’isle joyeuse there. The music was later transcribed by Italian composer Bernardino Molinari, who employed strings, harps, celesta, a large percussion section, and full wind and brass sections to create an otherworldly atmosphere.

Soloist Yevgeny Kutik joins the Orchestra next for a veritable musical declaration of the romantic soul: Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor. The pinnacle of his composing career, Bruch's concerto is a marvel of craft employing great clarity of design, romantic sonority, and graceful melody. The result is a piece of music that cannot fail to move the heart.

The death of Russian architect and painter Viktor Hartmann in 1874 triggered a chain of events that led to the creation of one of the most beloved compositions in the whole of classical literature, Pictures at an Exhibition. Composer Modest Mussorgsky and Hartmann were dear friends, and the composer's grief led him and another associate, Vladimir Stasoff, to mount a memorial exhibition of Hartmann's work. This energized Mussorgsky, who fell to work feverishly creating a piano suite depicting the paintings and honoring his departed friend. 

This is programmatic music at its most literal. The flow of the musical narrative follows a walk through a gallery as we "see" an exhibition of ten paintings. The paintings are interspersed here and there with a "promenade" theme that moves us along.

Our story then turns to Boston in 1922 and its accomplished Orchestra. Its maestro, Serge Koussevitzky, commissioned the famous French composer Maurice Ravel to orchestrate Mussorgsky's piano suite (we will hear more about Koussevitzky later for the January Masterworks).

It was a perfect match; Mussorgsky provided the impetus, and Ravel's agile mind and keen orchestral knowledge brought an explosion of color, contrast and dramatic dynamics to the picture. 

It is, once again, the type of music one must hear live. No recording will ever do it justice.

Masterworks Series sponsored by Premier Health 

DP&L Foundation DPAA Innovation Partner – Powering Innovation in the Performing Arts
Bob Ross Auto Group
Official Automobile Dealership of the DPO
DataYard Official Data Provider of the DPO
Marriott University of Dayton Official Hotel of the DPO
One Call Now DPAA Communications Partner
ThinkTV and Discover Classical 88.1 and 89.9 FM Masterworks Series Media Partners 
Booz Allen Hamilton Presenting Sponsor, Military Appreciation Program 

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