‘Season Opener’

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beethovenGabriel’s Oboe
by Ennio Morricone (b. 1928)


Born in Rome in 1928, as a child Ennio Morricone was taught several instruments by his father and as a young man played the trumpet with jazz bands throughout the 1940’s. He became a studio arranger and ghost composer for film and theater in the 1950’s. It was in 1966, however, when he achieved world-wide fame for his iconic score to the film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Morricone has since become one of the most versatile and influential composers of the modern era. He is the prolific creator of over 500 scores for film as well as for television, and has composed well over 100 classical works. His ability to write in almost any musical medium has made him popular world wide and in constant demand from theatrical producers and directors. Among the hundreds of awards he has received was the 2015 Academy Award for the film The Hateful Eight.

Gabriel’s Oboe was composed as the main theme of the 1986 film The Mission. The story concerns a Jesuit Priest, Father Gabriel, who is trying to found a mission in the new world. In order to befriend the natives who are stalking him from the forest, Father Gabriel plays the theme on his oboe, and the tribesman respond to this new, lovely, and haunting sound by approaching and finally offering their friendship.

mozartSymphony No. 38 (The Prague)
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)


Mozart arrived in Prague, then the capital of Bohemia, in 1786 at the request of a group of musicians and patrons who summoned him mostly due to the popular reception of his opera, The Marriage of Figaro. While there, he must have taken notice of the marvelous skill of the city’s wind players, for that was probably the inspiration for composing his 38th symphony– The Prague. This symphony makes lavish use of wind instruments and, as such, achieved an immediate popularity among the city’s residents (who apparently appreciated the playing of their skillful wind players!).

In several other ways the Prague Symphony is unusual: Mozart was at the height of his powers when he wrote it (he would die within five years), but this work is a bit of a throwback to earlier Classical symphonic forms in that it has only three movements. For unknown reasons it lacks a third movement minuet, which would have been usual for the time. It also is one of only three Mozart symphonies to begin with a slow introduction (before picking up speed). This highly chromatic and intense introduction presages the overture to the masterpiece Mozart was in the process of composing for Prague…the opera Don Giovanni.

Heitor-Villa-LobosBachianas Brasileiras
(Brazilian Bachian-pieces) No. 4
by Hector Villa-Lobos (1881-1959)


Born in Rio, the son of a civil servant, Hector Villa-Lobos is today acknowledged as the most significant and influential Brazilian composer of the last century. Influenced by both Brazilian folk music and European classical traditions, he produced over 2000 works in an array of musical forms: instrumental, chamber, vocal, and solo compositions. But he is probably best known today for his works influenced by years spent in ethno musicological research conducted in the Amazonian interior. It was also in the rainforests of the Amazon that the young composer learned many of the bird and animal sounds that he would later incorporate in his compositions.

Between 1930 and 1945, Villa-Lobos composed nine works he called Brasileiras Bachianas which combined the folkloric elements of Brazilian music with the Baroque style of Johan Sebastian Bach. No. 4, which we are performing today, has four parts and begins with a stately “Preludio” reminiscent of the opening of many of Bach’s dance-suites.

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