Summit Music and Arts welcomes the return of violinist Brian Hanly, on this occasion performing with pianist Frederick Minger. The program includes Passacaglia in D minor by Heinrich Biber (1644-1704); Prelude in E-flat major, Op. 23, No. 6 by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943); Sonata in G Major, Opus 96 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827); Sonata, Opus 18 by Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949); and The Strenuous Life by Scott Joplin (1868 – 1917).
Heinrich Biber, one of the most outstanding violinists of the 17th century, was born in Bohemia and became director of music at the court of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. He was also a first-rate composer, writing equally well for instrumental or vocal, sacred or secular. His compositions for solo violin served as a model for the violin writing of J.S. Bach.
Rachmaninoff composed the majority of his most well-known music before the Russian revolution in 1917 forced him and his family into exile. The composer’s marriage in May of 1902 heralded the beginning of the fertile creative period in which the Opus 23 Preludes were written, along with his very successful Second Piano Concerto, Second Suite for Two Pianos and the Cello Sonata. The Opus 23 Preludes are regarded as autobiographical, and No. 6, the E Flat Major, is said to have been written on the day of the birth of the composer’s daughter Irina. You will hear in it the proud father’s contented bliss at this event and his reflection of the wide-eyed innocence he sees in his newborn child.
Beethoven’s G Major Sonata Opus 96 was composed in 1812 and is the last of his 10 sonatas for violin and piano. As the other nine sonatas were all composed between 1797 and 1803, it is not surprising that this work is considered by many people to show the deepest maturity of the 10 sonatas. The Sonata Opus 96 is preceded by the renowned String Quartet Opus 95 (“The Serioso”) and is immediately followed by the famous “Archduke” Piano Trio Opus 97. These three works form a significant high point in Beethoven’s creative process that concluded his extraordinary middle period of composition.
Sonata for Violin and Piano Opus 18 is Richard Strauss’ last and most famous chamber music composition, yet he was only 23 years of age at the time of its completion. In fact, Strauss was in the process of breaking out into the writing of his great orchestral tone poems, which was to occupy him exclusively for the next 10 years, before yet another change of genre, turning to the writing of his great operas. The Opus 18 sonata composed in 1887 was followed immediately by his famous symphonic tone poem “Don Juan,” completed in 1888. The Strauss sonata is exciting and rewarding both to perform and to listen to, and it was a lifetime favorite of the great 20th century violinist Jascha Heifetz.
Scott Joplin was born in Texas in 1868. His formal musical education began when a local German-born music teacher, Julius Weiss, noticed his talent. He began trying to publish rags in 1898, and in 1899 convinced a local music store owner and publisher to publish his “Maple Leaf Rag” under a contract that paid Joplin a one-cent royalty for each copy sold. By 1909 about half a million copies had been sold, and this one contract continued to provide Joplin with a small but steady income for the next 20 years.
Joplin spent most of his life as an itinerant musician playing piano, cornet and violin, but composing was his first love. The rag “A Strenuous Life” was composed in honor of Theodore Roosevelt in gratitude for the president’s inviting black leader Booker T. Washington to a White House dinner, a very controversial event in the segregated society of 1901. By Joplin’s death in 1917, the popularity of ragtime had been eclipsed by jazz and he was largely forgotten. However, in the 1940s, some jazz musicians started including ragtime music in performances tracing the history of jazz, and a ragtime revival began, peaking in the 1970s with republication of much of Joplin’s music. In 1976, Joplin was awarded posthumously a Pulitzer Prize for his contribution to American music.
About the musicans
Hanly is professor emeritus of violin and chamber orchestra at the University of Wyoming, and he also taught previously at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and Peabody Preparatory in Baltimore. Some of Hanly’s former violin students include William Preucil, now concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra; Andres Cardenes, former concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony; Michelle Makarski, 1989 winner of the Carnegie Hall International Competition for Violinists; Miho Hashizume, 1991 National Winner of the MTNA Wurlitzer Collegiate Artist Competition, who is now a member of the Cleveland Orchestra; and Akemi Takayama, who is a member of the Audubon String Quartet and concertmaster of the Roanoke Symphony.
Hanly’s former teachers include Josef Gingold, Ivan Galamian and Dorothy Delay. He has appeared as a soloist and in chamber music numerous times throughout the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Australia. For the U.S. State Department, he has performed embassy concerts in Poland, Spain, Colombia, Panama and Guatemala.
Minger is a pianist well-known to Maryland audiences for many years, chiefly as a collaborative artist in chamber music and song recitals. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin College Conservatory and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Peabody Conservatory.
Minger has taught piano, music theory and music history at Towson University. He has performed as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony, and he has also performed and recorded as a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.