Along the Mediterranean

Along The Mediterranean Concert Graphic

Itinerary: Our final journey will be pure fun—a party trip along the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea where we will experience three different views of Spanish music: one by a Russian, one by a Spaniard and one by a Frenchman.


  • Emmanuel Chabrier: España
  • Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 5
  • Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagñole
  • Manuel de Falla: Suite from The Three Cornered Hat
  • Ravel: Bolero
  • Soloist — Orion Weiss, Piano

Program Notes

BORN: January 18, 1841, in Ambert, Puy-de-Dôme, France
DIED: September 13, 1894, in Paris
WORLD PREMIERE: November 4, 1883, at Théâtre du Château d’Eau for the Société des Nouveaux Concerts in Paris, Charles Lamoureux conducting

Emmanuel Chabrier is best known today for the orchestral showpiece España. His small body of work was consistently of high quality and had a strong influence on French composers in the beginning of the 20th century. Chabrier began piano lessons at the age of six and compositions of short works for the piano soon followed. His ability on the piano developed into a degree of virtuosity that would have composer Vincent d’Indy (1851-1931) compared him favorably with Liszt and Anton Rubinstein. Aline Charigot (1859-1915), wife of Renoir and a friend of Chabrier, wrote:

One day Chabrier came; and he played his España for me. It sounded as if a hurricane had been let loose. He pounded and pounded the keyboard. [The street] was full of people, and they were listening, fascinated. When Chabrier reached the last crashing chords, I swore to myself I would never touch the piano again […] Besides, Chabrier had broken several strings and put the piano out of action.

Although he identified with the avant-garde, Chabrier also was wary that its dogmatism might hamper his compositional individuality and freedom.

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CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103 Egyptian
BORN: October 9, 1835, in Paris, France
DIED: December 16, 1921, in Algiers, Algeria (then under French rule)
WORLD PREMIERE: May 6, 1896, at Salle Pleyel, Orchestra de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Paul Taffanel conducting, Saint-Saëns soloist – 50th anniversary of his debut perfomance in that hall (at the age of 10!)

Camille Saint-Saëns demonstrated perfect pitch at the age of two and started composing at four. When he was ten he made his formal debut in Paris, performing works by Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. During his adolescence he composed his first two symphonies. At the age of 72 he became the first major composer to write a film score and by the time he died, at 86, he had completed more than 200 musical works, in most every genre, and he was still performing as a concert pianist. Talk about an overachiever! He was also a travel writer, poet and playwright, he spoke several languages fluently and…

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NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio Espagnole, Op. 34
BORN: March 18, 1844, in Tikhvin, near the Russian city of Novgorod
DIED: June 21, 1908, in Lyubensk, near Saint Petersburg
WORLD PREMIERE: November 12, 1887, in Saint Petersburg, Imperial Opera Orchestra, Rimsky-Korsakov conducting

Rimsky-Korsakov seems to have been an indefatigable composer, especially during the 1880s. In 1881, after Mussorgsky’s death, Rimsky-Korsakov collected all of his friend’s manuscripts and began preparing them for publication. A gargantuan task was completing and orchestrating Khovanshchina, Mussorgsky’s last opera, and also creating a mostly new work of Night on Bald Mountain from drafts Mussorgsky left behind. Rimsky-Korsakov also started working on Borodin’s sketches for Prince Igor hoping that it would encourage his friend to finish his neglected opera. After Borodin died, Glazunov finished the vocal score and Rimsky-Korsakov orchestrated the entire opera. How then did he find time to compose Capriccio Espagnole, Scheherazade and Russian Easter Festival Overture?

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MANUEL DE FALLA Selections from The Three-Cornered Hat
BORN: November 23, 1876, in Cádiz, Spain
DIED: November 14, 1946, in Alta Gracia, Argentina
WORLD PREMIERE: July 22, 1919, at the Alhambra Theatre in London, Ernest Ansermet conducting; sets and costumes by Pablo Picasso, choreography by Léonide Massine

The Three-Cornered Hat is a ballet telling a story full of romance, humor and charm in the warm atmosphere of Andalusia. The plot tells of a miller and his beautiful wife, their flirtations and intrigues, and the trickery that ensues when a third party comes upon this situation. The couple is visited one day by a corregidor (the magistrate, whose three-cornered hat symbolizes his authority), and he quickly develops an eye for the beautiful young wife. He orders the miller arrested to clear his own path to the wife, but his flirtation ends in humiliation when he falls into a stream. The corregidor lays out his clothes to dry, and…

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BORN: March 7, 1875, in Ciboure, Basses-Pyrénées, France
DIED: December 28, 1937, in Paris
WORLD PREMIERE: November 14, 1929, in New York, Arturo Toscanini conducting the New York Philharmonic; January 11, 1930, in Paris, Ravel conducting the Lamoureaux Orchestra

Ravel originally composed Boléro as a ballet commissioned by the Russian dancer Ida Rubenstein and it was a sensational success when it was premiered at the Paris Opéra on November 22, 1928. When Toscanini introduced the work as a concert piece in New York it elicited “shouts and cheers from the audience” according to a New York Times review. One critic declared that “it was Toscanini who launched the career of the Boléro” and another claimed that Toscanini had made Ravel into “almost an American national hero.” However, on May 4, 1930, during the New York Philharmonic’s European tour, Toscanini was conducting the work significantly faster than Ravel preferred and he signaled his disapproval by refusing to respond to Toscanini’s gesture during the audience ovation. One account tells of Ravel approaching Toscanini after the concert telling him…

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Saturday, May 4, 2019 • 7:00 PM
Duluth, MN, United States
DECC Symphony Hall

Venue Details

350 Harbor Drive
Duluth, MN 55802
United States