UCLA Department of Music
Committee on Fine Arts Productions
University Symphony Orchestra
Music Director and Conductor
and the UCLA Opera Workshop
The Barber of Seville
February 20, 1980
Overture to Il Barbiere di Seviglia
(The Barber of Seville) (1816)
Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868)
Symphony No. 1 in B Flat Major
Op. 38 (“Spring”) (1841)
Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)
Andante un poco maestoso; Allegro molto vivace
Scherzo: Molto vivace
Allegro animato e grazioso
Program Notes by Robert Read
Overture to “il Barbiere di Seviglia” by Rossini
It is surely with both puzzlement and a twinge of sadness that a lover of the bel canto school of opera, of which Gioacchino Rossini is the preeminent exponent, reflects upon the fact that, while the composer lived until 1868, he virtually ceased producing maor works nearly forty years earlier (the only significant exception being Stabat Mater in 1841). The 1829 premiere of Guillaume Tell in Paris marked the close of an extraordinary period in the history of Italian opera; the spontaneous vivacity and the stirring melodies, which were the hallmarks of Rossini’s works, had changed the medium forever.
Rossini achieved his earliest operatic successes in 1810 and 1812 with La Cambiale di Matrimonio and La Pietra del Paragone, respectively, but it was Tancredi, produced in Venice in 1813, which created an enthusiasm that spread throughout Italy and truly brought the name Rossini to prominence. It was during a stay in Rome in 1816 that he wrote the music to Il Barbiere di Seviglia, supposedly completing it in only thirteen days. The opera, which was based upon a play by Beaumarchais, had its premiere on February 20, 1816, exactly 164 years ago to the day.
Unlike many of Rossini’s operas, of which only the overtures and other small portions have survived as concert pieces, Il Barbiere di Seviglia is one of three works, along with Semiradide (1823) and Guillaume Tell, which are still counted as part of the standard operatic repertoire.
Symphony No. 1 in B Flat Major (“Spring”) by Schumann
The life of Schumann seems to epitomize in numerous ways the prototypic nineteeth-century Romanticist; he was influenced as a young man by the romantic literature of Lord Byron and Jean Paul Richter, and he championed the traditionalism of Brahms and Chopin while criticizing the “modern” trends represented by the works of Liszt and Wagner. A writer with considerable talent, he authored a celebrated essay on Chopin in 1831, and established three years later his own music journal, “Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik,” which he subsequently edited until 1844. His eventual insanity, attempted suicide, and death in an asylum at the age of 46 merely contribute to the stereotype.
A frustrated pianist who was forced to abandon a concert career when, as a result of overly rigorous finger exercises, he permanently injured the fourth finger on his right hand, Schumann composed solely for the piano until 1840. In that year, he married Clara Josephine Wieck, the daughter of his piano teacher, and before the year was out he had composed an incredible 138 songs in several cycles, having been inspired, as he admitted, by his love for Clara and by her encouragement to try his hand at this musical form.
It was not until the following year, 1841, that Schumann, who was living with his wife in Leipzig, finally turned to the composition of large orchestral works. In the Schumanns’ joint diary, Clara noted in an entry dated January 17 - 23, 1841, that Robert was nearing the completion of a symphony, and added that she was “infinitely delighted that (he) has at last found the sphere for which his great imagination fits him.” On January 25, she added that “Robert has about finished his symphony; it has been composed mostly at night - my poor Robert has spent some sleepless nights over it. He calls it “Spring Symphony.’ “
Having been sketched, in fact, in four days, the scoring was begun on January 27, and the work was premiered on March 31, 1841, at a benefit concert given at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig by Clara for the orchestra pension fund. The conductor was the Schumanns’ friend, Felix Mendelssohn. The reaction of the audience was enthusiastic, if somewhat perplexed on account of the work’s originality. In any event, the Symphony did serve to raise Schumann, who until this time had been virtually unknown by the music public in general, to great prominence.
The Spring Symphony had been inspired by a peom written by Adolph Böttger, to whom Schumann later sent, with his photograph, the first two bars of the work and the dedication “Beginning of a symphony inspired by a poem by Adolph Böttger. To the poet as a remembrance from Robert Schumann, Leipzig, October, 1842.” Indeed, the four movements had been entitled Frühlingsbeginn (Spring’s Coming), Abend (Evening), Frohe Gespielen (Merry Playmates), and Voller Frühling (Full Spring). For the composer, the theme of Spring was a very personal one, as, in a letter to his friend Louis Spohr at the end of 1842, he explained, “I wrote the Symphony in that flush of spring which carries a man away even in his old age, and comes over him anew every year.” Perhaps the personal happiness which Schumann had achieved, at least for the time being, in 1841 amounted to rare “spring” in the lifetime of this so frequently unhappy man.
Samuel Krachmalnick, in his fourth year at UCLA as the Symphony’s Musical Director and Conductor and Director of the UCLA Opera Workshop/Theater, has been Professor of Music and Director of Opera and Symphony at the University of Washington in Seattle. His distinguished career has led him to conduct Broadway hits as well as symphony concerts and opera productions all over the world.
Born in St. Louis, Mr. Krachmalnick received his diploma in conducting from Juilliard in 1952 and then served two years as a teaching fellow at the Conservatory, assisting his teacher, Jean Morel. Twice he received a fellowship in Orchestral Conducting at Tanglewood where he studied with Leonard Bernstein. He also won the Koussevitsky Memorial Prize and the Frederic Mann Prize in conducting at Tanglewood.
Krachmalnick has served as musical director of the Boston Fine Arts Festival, the American Ballet Theater, and the Stadttheater in Zurich where he was first conductor for three years. He was associate music director of the Metropolitan Operan National Company, and a member of the conducting staff of the New York City Opera Company. More recently, he served as music director of the Harkness Foundation and permanent guest conductor of the Harkness Ballet.
On Broadway, Krachmalnick conducted such works Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Saint of Bleecker Street, Marc Blitzstein’s Reuben, Reuben, and Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. He has also served as musical director and conductor for numerous television programs including “Omnibus” and the NBC “TV Opera”. He has recorded three complete operas: Candide, Blitzstein’s Regina, and Moore’s Carry Nation. Krachmalnick has also received a TV “Emmy” for musical direction of the Carlysle Floyd opera “Markheim” for the PBS network.
Mary Ann Sereth
* UCLA Faculty Member
Scenic and Lighting Design
Men’s Chorus Director
Publicity and Program