Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It's That Time of Year Again (Our Annual March Concert of Music Written by Women)

My friend John David and I play two recitals every year. Half of the music we play comes from female composers, and half of the music we play comes from male composers. I'm very excited about this year's Women's History and Awarness Month program, because it has some really terrific music on it, and everything was written originally for the viola.

Minna Keal's "Ballade," was written for the viola, but it is sometimes played by cellists (in the same octave, save a few notes, as the viola), and my Luxury Suite has a version for cello that is sometimes in the same octave as the original. Lionel Tertis, the great British violist and muse for composers interested in writing for the viola, admired the Ballade. Keal wrote it in 1928, while she was a student at the Royal Academy of Music. She revised it for publication in 1992.

Pamela Harrison's 1946 Sonata for Viola and Piano is a terrific piece that was written during the later part of England's viola-centric period (with Lionel Tertis as its focal point). Vavaria Gaigarova's Opus 8 Sonata is one of her earlier works. She dedicated it to Vadim Vasilyevich Borisovsky (1900-1972), who taught viola at the Moscow Conservatory.

The pieces by Harrison and Gaigarova were both published long after the death of their composers. Harrison died in 1990, and her Sonata was published in 2001; Gaigarova died in 1944 (at the age of 41), and her Sonata was published in 1969, four years before the death of Borisovsky, its dedicatee (and editor).

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