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United States Music

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Author Topic: United States Music  (Read 29609 times)
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« Reply #135 on: January 13, 2014, 11:30:33 am »

Music of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra-- Continued

From the collection of Karl Miller...

Alvin L. Epstein: Music for Orchestra:
I have not been able to unearth much about Epstein beyond the fact that he also taught composition at the Hartt school of music, and won the BMI student composer award in 1952.  However, Kyle Gann, a big enthusiast for microtonal music, was a student of Epstein, and speaks very well of Hartt School, which has provided most of the composers in this collection. 

Safe Haven for Us Oddballs
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of lecturing on Cage and my own music at the Hartt School in Hartford, at the invitation of Robert Carl and Ken Steen. I'm always joking with them about doing endorsements for the place, and I might as well proceed. Hartt is one of the few graduate schools I recommend for my own students and for those who share my anti-establishment musical interests - others are CalArts, Mills College, Yale, and Wesleyan. But Yale and Wesleyan accept only a tiny number of students and are all but impossible to get into; Hartt has significantly more slots open. Hartt doesn't seem to have the reputation it did in the mid-20th-century, and I can't figure out why. I was certainly aware of it as a teenager, possibly because my first composition teacher Alvin Epstein studied and taught there, whereas I was in my 30s before I heard of Bard. One never really knows what goes on in a department from the outside, but the atmosphere there seems enviable, the faculty open-minded and mutually supportive. I've sent two students there now, and both of them have been amazed what's been required from them in learning ear-training, score-reading, and other nuts-and-bolts topics. They take musical education very seriously. The students call it "Boulanger Lite," and the curriculum does seem copied from the Paris Conservatoire. Nevertheless, it's one of the few places where one could pursue microtonality, Downtown music, and even conceptualism without drawing down faculty discouragement, PLUS study electronic music in friendlier softwares than Max/MSP and Supercollider. I was very impressed this time with the level and camaraderie of grad students. I got to sit in on Robert's "Cage, Carter, and Crumb" class, and he was running circles around me in the Cage analysis department. Maybe being slightly underrated is what gives a music department a vibrant energy, while acquiring the "prestige" label turns it into a nest of vipers. If I could do grad school again, I can't imagine a place I'd rather do it than Hartt.

Obituary for Conductor Arthur Winograd from the Hartford Courant:
Arthur Winograd, a cellist and co-founder of the famed Juilliard String Quartet, was a former conductor of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

Born on April 22, 1920, in New York, he was one of two sons of Eli Winograd, a wealthy furrier, and his wife, Mildred.

He was exposed early to music his father played the violin and his mother the piano and began studying the piano, then switched to the cello and was sitting in with adult quartet players as a teenager. He attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the New England Conservatory.

During World War II, Winograd was assigned to a musical unit of the Army and was stationed on Fisher's Island in Long Island Sound, where the main mission was to look out for Japanese submarines. At night, he played percussion with fellow soldier Robert Mann in the Army band, and off duty, he and Mann performed in a jazz trio.

In 1946, he, Mann and two other players formed the Juilliard String Quartet, one of the first serious American quartets. It became known for its performances of contemporary music and, while Winograd was with them, recorded all of Bartok's quartets.

"His main quality as a player was a very deep commitment and an athletic projection," said Mann. "I always enjoyed making music with him."

Winograd also was on the faculty of Juilliard and played the cello in the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. In 1956, he left the quartet to embark on a career as a conductor and directed the MGM Orchestra.

He moved to Alabama in 1960 to become music director of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, then came to Hartford in 1964 to lead the HSO.

At that time, the local orchestra had a small number of members who were augmented by musicians from New York during performances. Winograd decided to improve the quality of the orchestra by engaging outstanding young players from the Hartt School of Music.

"He built up the orchestra from scratch and really gave the symphony its character," said James Rouman, a former member of the symphony board.

Winograd emphasized the giants of the early 20th century, including Bruckner, Stravinsky, Bartok and Mahler.

"He felt if he was going to introduce 20th-century music, it would have to be of extraordinary caliber," said Rouman. World-class soloists, including Emil Gilels and David Oistrakh, often accompanied the orchestra.

Winograd took the symphony on several occasions to Carnegie Hall, where it received good reviews from The New York Times.

"All true musicians respected Arthur," said Steve Metcalf, a former music critic for The Courant. "They recognized he had this fierce artistic integrity."

Winograd was demanding on the podium. He could be gruff and had a quick temper. When he heard a mistake during rehearsal, he would demand to have sections of the orchestra repeat the passage in pairs until they got it right. When things went wrong, he would take his fists and grab his red hair in frustration.

Conductors such as Leonard Bernstein had a dramatic, flamboyant style, but Winograd followed the Central European practice of using the baton with more restraint.

He copied Toscanini's "straight stick" style and told people that the conductor shouldn't stand in the way of the music, which should speak for itself, Rouman said.

His players admired his musical knowledge and his command of the repertoire.

"He was regarded with a great deal of respect and affection," said violinist Anhared Stowe. "He was someone you really looked up to and revered."

"Arthur was one of the best conductors I've ever played for," said Bernard Lurie, symphony concertmaster for 50 years. "There wasn't an ink spot on the score he didn't know. He was a real student of the music he conducted."

Winograd was known to mutter an oath under his breath whenever there was an egregious musical error, which only Lurie, seated close by, could hear. One day, when Winograd was rehearsing a cello part in a Beethoven quartet with Lurie, Winograd made a mistake. Lurie had the temerity to repeat the oath, and the quick-witted Winograd retorted, "My sentiments exactly."

Winograd retired from the symphony in 1985 but continued to live in West Hartford and taught chamber music at the Hartt School. He moved to New Jersey in 1997, where he died of complications of pneumonia on his 90th birthday.

Winograd was married to Winifred Schaefer, a cellist, with whom he had a son, Nicholas, but they later divorced. In 1950, he married Betty Olsen, a pianist who taught at Hartt for many years before her death in 1987. They had two children, Wendy and Peter, the first violinist of the American String Quartet.

Winograd rode his bicycle frequently around West Hartford. He continued cooking the macrobiotic diet he had adopted while his wife was ill, sometimes to the distress of his dinner guests.

After he retired, the stress of years of conducting affected his shoulder, which made it very difficult for him to conduct or to play the cello. He nevertheless returned to Hartford in 2002 to conduct the symphony, and conducted his son Peter in the Sibelius violin concerto.

"He really helped build the orchestra up," said Peter Winograd. "His passion was always about the music and not about the instrument itself."
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All download links I have posted are for works, that, to  my knowledge, have never been commercially released in digital form.  Should you find I've been in error, please notify myself or an Administrator.  Please IM me if I've made any errors that require attention, as I may not read replies.

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