Normally, I don’t post half concerts or portions of concerts for the Mid-Week feature. And I almost didn’t post this one, had it not been for the very special nature of the concert and its historic importance.
Recorded during a Subscription concert on September 29, 1980, it features The Boston Symphony, led by Music Director Seiji Ozawa and featuring the legendary Rudolf Serkin, pianist in a wonderful performance of the Beethoven 3rd Piano concerto.
But the gem here, the historic piece de resistance comes in the form of a world premier of a work by Leonard Bernstein. His Divertimento For Orchestra. Leonard Bernstein composed Divertimento for the Boston Symphony Orchestra‘s centenary, dedicating the piece, “With affection to the Boston Symphony Orchestra in celebration of its First Centenary.” Having served as assistant to BSO conductor Serge Koussevitzky at the Berkshire Music Center, Bernstein wrote Divertimento with gratitude towards the symphony and his history with Boston – graduate of Harvard University, graduate of The Boston Latin School, and born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The piece is a series based on two notes, B for Boston and C for Centennial.
Rudolf Serkin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and in March 1972 celebrated his 100th appearance with the New York Philharmonic by playing Johannes Brahms‘ Piano Concerto No. 1. The orchestra and board of directors also named Serkin an honorary member of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Society, a distinction also conferred on Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, and Paul Hindemith. In 1986, he celebrated his 50th anniversary as a guest artist with the orchestra. He is regarded as one of the primary interpreters of the music of Beethoven in the 20th century.
Revered as a musician’s musician, a father figure to a legion of younger players who came to the Marlboro School and Festival, and a pianist of enormous musical integrity, he toured all over the world and continued his solo career and recording activities until illness prevented further work in 1989. He died of cancer on 8 May 1991, aged 88, at home on his Guilford farm.
Missing from this post, and incomplete was the opening piece; Bartok: Concerto For Orchestra. It’s missing the first few seconds, but just enough to drive you crazy. So rather than do that . . .
Sit band and enjoy.