Koussevitzky Legacy Celebration

The stars are aligning this Friday at the Library of Congress, when a constellation of great pieces and great performers come together to illuminate Serge Koussevitzky as the cynosure of the evening. The Library of Congress is celebrating the merger of Koussevitzky’s two foundations into a single entity housed at the Library with a concert celebrating the legacy of Koussevitzky.

Koussevitzky may be best known as the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and founder of Tanglewood, but he also played a significant role in supporting the creation of new music. He commissioned major works such as Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, Arnold Schoenberg’s Survivor from Warsaw, Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, and Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra.  He also commissioned Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

In the 1940s Koussevitzky started two foundations: the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Inc. (based in New York), and the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress. Together these foundations have supported the composition of over four hundred new works, serving the nation as one of the great commissioning programs of the past seventy-plus years.

Koussevitzky

Serge Koussevitzky, courtesy Serge Koussevitzky Archive, Library of Congress

While Koussevitzky’s support was immensely helpful to the composers of his time, it has proven just as important for living composers who have benefited from his largesse. The Library’s concert in honor of Koussevitzky’s significant contributions to the new music landscape will feature an excellent assortment of musicians also known for their commitment to the music of today and modern classics. The all-star lineup of performers includes Tony Arnold, soprano, Steven Beck, piano, David Fulmer, conductor, Alan R. Kay, clarinet, the Momenta Quartet, Ursula Oppens, piano, Fred Sherry, cello, Marie Tachouet, flute and Mike Truesdell, percussion.  The program, curated by Ursula Oppens and Fred Sherry, features works by composers George Crumb, Lukas Foss, Milton Babbitt, Henri Dutilleux, Augusta Read Thomas, Aaron Copland and Charles Wuorinen. These composers represent a sampling of the wide array of music supported by the Koussevitzky Foundation.

If you are unable to attend the concert on Friday, take a look skyward in the direction of the nation’s capital. If you are lucky and the clouds have parted (it will only be a few days after the new moon), you may just see the outline of Serge Koussevitzky’s face twinkling in the firmament. If not, just squint a bit and listen to some recently composed music in honor of one of the great patrons of new music.

Event Listing
Friday, May 2, 2014, 8:00 pm, Concert – Coolidge Auditorium, Jefferson Building

6:30 pm, Preconcert Event—Whittall Pavilion, Jefferson Building
Preconcert conversation with Jon Newsom, former Chief, Music Division, Library of Congress and members of the Koussevitzky Board.

Program:

George Crumb:                  Madrigals, Book II

Lukas Foss:                      Capriccio

Milton Babbitt:                   More Melismata

Henri Dutilleux:                  Ainsi la Nuit

Augusta Read Thomas:      Eagle at Sunrise

Aaron Copland:                 Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson (selections)

Charles Wuorinen:             New York Notes

 

Please visit loc.gov/concerts for more information about Concerts from the Library of Congress.

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