– Boston Symphony – In Rehearsal – Charles Munch, conducting – May 12, 1951 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Another rehearsal from The Boston Symphony. This week, it’s a rehearsal for the U.S. Premier of the Symphony Number 5 by Swiss-French composer Arthur Honegger, and it was first broadcast on May 12, 1951. This premier continued a tradition between Honegger and The Boston Symphony, going back to his First Symphony, which was written for the 50th anniversary of the Orchestra. His Fifth Symphony was written for the Serge Koussevitsky Music Foundation and was dedicated to the memory of Natalia Koussevitsky, Serge Koussevitsky’s wife who had passed away in 1942 and to whose memory Koussevitsky began the Music Foundation.
In July 1947, while his works are being performed around the world, Honegger flew to the United States; a grand tour of the U.S. was planned. But several days later, a heart attack occurred, followed a month later by three coronaries with complications. The composer managed, nevertheless, to recover. In November he returned to France and, for some time, seemed to have completely recovered. From April 1948, he took up the pen again, and practiced by composing an orchestral suite from Amphion. Following on from this came the Concerto da camera for cor anglais and flute; but even though his agenda was full with the many concerts, he struggled to compose, owing to his health. His last works were only more striking and tragic, notably the Cinquième symphonie, di tre ré, in 1950, and the Monopartita composed at the beginning of 1951. A new project working with Claudel, the Cantate de Pâques would never see the light of day, his last work being Une Cantate de Noël,in 1953, mainly inspired by an old project of he had abandoned since 1945.
As always, narrated by Ben Grauer, it’s another fascinating glimpse into the rehearsal process for a Symphony Orchestra, and particularly interesting when they tackle a piece they haven’t played before.
Enjoy – more next week.
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