Abilene Philharmonic Playbill: April 7, 1990 Page: 8
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Notes On The Seventh Program
By Martha Daniel Boggs
Overture to COLAS BREUGNON Dmitri Kabalevsky (b. 1904)
The son of a civil engineer, Kabalevsky early prepared for a career in mathe-
matics and economics. Though his musical talents manifested themselves in early
childhood, his formal musical training did not begin until the age of fourteen, at
which time he entered the Skriabin School. In 1925 he entered the Moscow
Conservatory to study piano and composition. Several of his major works are
products of his later student days: First Piano Concerto, First String Quartet,
Three Blok Poems, and the First Piano Sonatina. The Sonatina was the first of a
series of pieces for young musicians which included piano music, and concertos
for violin, cello, and piano. He has written extensively on music, a collection of
his essays being published in Moscow in 1963. The Union of Soviet Composers
was formed in 1932 with Kabalevsky playing a key role.
His opera, Colas Breugnon, first produced in Leningrad in 1938 and whose actual
title is The Craftsman of Clamency, was based on the 1937 novel by Romain
Rolland, itself titled Colas Breugnon. When asked for permission to use his novel,
Rolland made one stipulation: "Don't make Colas too serious. Colas without
laughter won't be Colas. For the rest--carte blanche. Fly with your own wings."
The libretto by V. Bragin was drawn together from a plotless collection of thoughts
and comments of a fictional Burgundian master craftsman, Colas Breugnon, and
is set during the 16th century. Colas is a man who believes that, in spite of the
oppressive aristocrats and politicians of his day, life is good and will be better
when the oppressors are put away. Such views were, of course, readily accepted
by the Soviet authorities of the 1930's.
The opera's Overture opens with a brilliant flourish, followed immediately by
the main theme, presto, joyous and dance-like, and associated with the character
of Colas himself. The theme is presented first by flutes and clarinets with string
accompaniment, then repeated with the instrumentation reversed. A contrasting
theme is announced by trombone, cellos, and bassoon in unison. A flowing
middle section is interrupted by music from the peasant insurrection scene,
leading to a brilliant close.
TARAS BULBA Symphonic Rhapsody Leos Janacek (1854-1928)
Leos Janacek has achieved national and international eminence as the most out-
standing of all Czech composers since Dvorak; but this acclaim was long in coming.
He remained a somewhat obscure figure until the 1960s when admiring scholars
sought to bring the world's attention to his music. His opera Junufa, composed
between 1894 and 1903, has taken its place in the contemporary repertory, as
has the charming opera The Cunning Little Vixen. Operas make up the bulk of
his catalog, but there are also a number of choral works, chamber music, piano
music, orchestral music, and folksong arrangements.
Janacek's style is original. Not an advocate of atonality, he did however believe
that tonality and harmony should be fluid and ever-changing in order to be ex-
pressive. His collecting of folksongs no doubt had a strong influence on his style.
In 1905, he wrote in a magazine article: "I have discovered something entirely
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Abilene Philharmonic. Abilene Philharmonic Playbill: April 7, 1990, pamphlet, April 1990; Abilene, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth623256/m1/10/: accessed May 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Abilene Philharmonic.