Zinman will make his last year here fun Symphony: The music director will conduct such gems as the "Rustic Wedding Symphony."

September 11, 1997|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Concert information published with the article on David Zinman in yesterday's Today section indicated that Goldmark's "Rustic Wedding Symphony" would be performed at all Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts this weekend. Tomorrow's 11 a.m. concert will not feature Goldmark but will feature Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1. Tonight's concert features both. Call 410-783-8000 for more information.

The Sun regrets the error.

David Zinman's final season at the Baltimore Symphony, which begins tonight in Meyerhoff Hall, is filled with music he has never had the chance to perform here -- or, for that matter, anywhere else.

Zinman took the opportunity to alter some of the BSO's programs when Decca-London, which had planned to record Zinman and the orchestra in works by 20th-century American composers, recently canceled its recording projects with the Baltimore Symphony and other orchestras.


That means that, come February, Baltimore music lovers will hear Elgar's "The Music Makers," Bartok's "Magic Mandarin" and Schonberg's "Verklarte Nacht" instead of the music of Copland, Barber and William Schuman -- to whom Zinman feels less of a connection. But most of the programming decisions were made long before that -- simply because Zinman wanted to have some fun.

"Since this is my last season, I figured, 'Why not indulge myself,' " he says. "Some of these pieces are works that I have loved all my life, and I realized that time was running short."

The first of these pieces is Karl Goldmark's "Rustic Wedding Symphony," which occupies the second half of the program of the symphony's opening concerts. In the second half of the 19th century, the Hungarian-born Goldmark (1830-1915) loomed large. In the 1870s, particularly, he produced a number of works -- including the opera "The Queen of Sheba" and the Violin Concerto in A minor -- that were wildly successful. A friend of Goldmark's, the notoriously hard-to-please Johannes Brahms, called the "Rustic Wedding Symphony" "clear-cut and faultless," adding that "it sprang into being, a finished thing, like the goddess Minerva from the head of Jupiter."

For more than 50 years it was among the most popular pieces in the Germano-Austrian repertory. It was also among the most influential. Anyone who loves Mahler will immediately recognize one of that composer's major influences when he hears the "Rustic Wedding Symphony." The Goldmark opens softly with a rustic theme in the lower strings, which, when taken up by the horns (with woodwinds providing an overlay of birdsong), is as magical as any passage in the romantic symphonic repertory, not excepting the opening of Mahler's First.

Mahler, much better-known in his own time as a conductor than as a composer, frequently programmed "The Rustic Wedding Symphony." So did every other important central European conductor from the late 1870s until the early 1930s.

When Zinman decided to program the work, he checked the archives of the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, of which he became music director a few seasons back.

"I discovered that it used to be performed at least once every four years in Zurich," the conductor says. "Suddenly, the piece just seemed to drop out of sight."

What happened had less to do with the vagaries of musical taste than the cataclysm that overtook Europe. Goldmark was the son -- one of 20 children -- of a poor Jewish cantor. And with the rise of Nazism, which was echoed by anti-Semitic fascism in several other European countries, performances of Goldmark's music -- along with that of Mendelssohn and Mahler -- were forbidden.

Zinman isn't sure how he became acquainted with the Goldmark symphony, but he suspects it was from a live broadcast in the early 1950s of the New York Philharmonic.

"I thought, what is this piece? It is so beautiful," Zinman says. During his years of surfing radio stations in search of classical music, he adds, "whenever I heard a faintly familiar clarinet solo or an especially beautiful slow movement, it would almost invariably turn out to be something from 'The Rustic Wedding Symphony.' "

Season opener

What: David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony perform Goldmark's "Rustic Wedding Symphony"

Where: Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St.

When: Tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

Tickets: $13-$53

` Call: 410-783-8000

Pub Date: 9/11/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.