TMC75 Archival Recording Project

In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the Tanglewood Music Center relased nearly 50 recordings drawn from the wealth of material housed in the BSO audio archives 
These recordings were offered as a series of free streams during the 2015 TMC session.

 

Selections from these releases are now available for free download from the BSO Shop

The Tanglewood Music Center 75th Anniversary Archival Digitization Project was made possible through the generosity of Cynthia and Robert J. Lepofsky, Joyce Linde, and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, with additional support from the GRAMMY Foundation ®.

 

Week Eight, August 11, 2015:

BSO

KOUSSEVITZKY Opening Exercises Speech (7/8/1940)
THOMPSON Alleluia TMC Fellows and Faculty (7/8/1940)
VARESE Integrales TMC Fellows (7/14/1966)
KNUSSEN Turba TMC Fellow Edwin Barker, solo bass (8/24/1975)
RACHMANINOFF Six Songs, Op. 38 TMC Fellow Dawn Upshaw & TMC Faculty Margo Garrett (8/21/1983)
COPLAND Symphony No. 3 TMCO/Bernstein (8/14/1990)
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 TMCO/van Zweden (7/25/2011)
HAYDN Symphony No. 44 TMC Fellows; un-conducted (8/17/2014)

In our final (and finale!) week of archival recording releases, we end with the beginning: a remarkable recording from the first opening exercises of Tanglewood Music Center (then called the Berkshire Music Center), featuring the very first singing of the Thompson Alleluia (delivered hot off the presses only hours before) and a speech by then-BSO Music Director and Founder of the TMC, Serge Koussevitzky. In the speech, Koussevitzky speaks of his vision for - and the necessity of - establishing such a school for advanced musical study in America, which had been a dream of his for some while, and also introduces the distinguished faculty he had assembled for the inaugural year. The ethereal magic of this world premiere of the Alleluia is only enhanced when one imagines Koussevitzky, Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith and all the other then and future luminaries of the musical world singing it together.

The next three recordings feature current and former TMC faculty (and BSO Members). This Integrales from 1966 provides a glimpse of contemporary music at the TMC during the period when it became focused during the Festival of Contemporary Music as established by Erich Leinsdorf. Two TMC students on this recording went on to join the BSO (they are now retired) and become active and treasured TMC faculty members: Peter Chapman (trumpet) and Frank Epstein (percussion). The 1975 recording of Oliver Knussen's dynamic and challenging Turba for solo bass features then-student Edwin Barker, who would go on to win the BSO Principal Bass position the following year ("I worked my tail off on that piece," recalled Barker). And lastly, on the vocal side of things, we find Dawn Upshaw (currently Head of the TMC Vocal Arts Program) as a Fellow, already singing with the color, clarity, and expressiveness that would make her an internationally-beloved performer. (On August 11, Mr. Barker plays in the premiere of a TMC 75th anniversary commission for soprano and double bass by Fred Lerdahl, on a vocal recital programmed by Ms. Upshaw.)

The last three recordings feature orchestral performances of different stripes. The first is Leonard Bernstein's final performance with the TMC Orchestra in 1990, a legendary rendering of Copland's Symphony No. 3 that lives on in the collective Tanglewood memory.  (That year, to celebrate the TMC 50th anniversary, an end-of-season tour of Europe was planned with Bernstein, but he passed away that Fall). This remarkable performance of a monumental work by the most iconic of American composers - whose connection with Bernstein traces back to that first year in 1940 when they were teacher and student, and flows through to their time as colleagues at the TMC, and to their eventual passage into Tanglewood lore - seems to have been a suitable benediction for Bernstein's fifty years at Tanglewood, and completes the arc we began in week one with the release of a performance from his student year.

Current Dallas Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jaap van Zweden is not a figure who necessarily has a strong TMC connection (he was never student and has conducted the TMCO only once), but nevertheless this 2011 performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 merits inclusion here, in part as a contrast to Bernstein's 1976 performance of the same work with the TMCO, released in week four, but also for the vigor and high-octane excitement of this particular reading, which demonstrates the exceptional abilities of that year's orchestra. (Van Zweden, who was concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at age nineteen, really puts the string section through the paces, and they are up to the challenge.)  Finally, there is a performance of Haydn's Symphony No. 44 from just last summer, which one might might find hard to beleive was done without a conductor.  For five summers now, the TMC has included at least one conductor-less chamber orchestra project - sheperded by former BSO concertmaster and former TMC faculty chairman Joseph Silverstein - in the intrest of bringing a chamber-music-type sensibility to larger enemble forms.  This year, Fellows will perform the Dvořák Serenade for Strings without conductor on the morning of August 16.

 

 

Week Seven, August 4, 2015:

BSO

BARBER Adagio for Strings Beatrice Brown/TMCO (8/5/1949)
MAHLER Symphony No. 4 Ozawa/TMCO w/ Barbara Bonney, soprano (7/24/1993)
MAHLER (arr. Schoenberg) Songs of a Wayfarer TMC Fellows (7/12/2009)
MENDELSSOHN Sextet in D major TMC Fellows (7/19/2009)
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 Dohnányi/TMCO (8/18/2013)

This week we are fortunate to be able to offer another recording from the TMC's first decade, gifted from the collection of Kevin Mostyn expressly for this project: a performance of Barber's Adagio for Strings, led by TMC student Beatrice Brown. Interestingly enough, Ms. Brown was not even in the conducting program that summer, but rather was a violist. But this points to the mutability of the program in the early years, as faculty reacted to the needs and talents of the young musicians arrayed before them (composer John Harbison, for example, went the other way: he was a conducting student in 1959, but also played viola in the orchestra). This recording is remarkably well preserved - technology having come a long way in the short interim since the 1940 recordings we released in week one - as is the warmth and depth of this particular TMC string section.

On August 8th, the TMC celebrates its 75th anniversary with a gala performance of Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 8, which is more than likely the most epic piece of symphonic repertoire ever performed by the TMC Orchestra.  The TMCO has performed the symphonies of Mahler, either whole or in excerpt, some sixteen times, but never the Eighth (nor the Seventh).  Three performances of Mahler are offered here mark the occasion.  With the TMCO, we have something old and something new: a 1993 Symphony No. 4 with Seiji Ozawa and Barbara Bonney (who stepped in for an ailing Wendy White at the last moment), and a Symphony No. 1 with Christoph von Dohnányi from just two years ago.  These two, being the more "modest" of the Mahler symphonies (if that term can even be applied to any Mahler symphony) offer some nice contrast with the gargantuan "symphony of a thousand" with which the present TMCO grapples. And more off the beaten path, a performance of a Schoenberg arrangement of Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer demonstrates the vocal program's emphasis on chamber music and collaboration with instrumental Fellows, a core aspect of the program in addition to the opera and art song already featured in these releases.

Lastly, we have a performance of Mendelssohn's infrequently done Sextet in D major. It comes from same year as the Mendelssohn Octet featured in week three - both part of that year's celebration of Mendelssohn's 200th birthday - and is as much a kind of chamber concerto for piano as a sextet. The Fellows were coached on this project by BSO cellist and TMC alumnus Mihail Jojatu, the mentor to the TMC cello section and architect of the cello ensemble concert that kicks off the TMC's activities on Tanglewood On Parade this week. 

 

 

Week Six, July 28, 2015:

BSO

MOZART La clemenza di Tito (excerpts) Caldwell/TMC Vocal Fellows including Phyllis Curtin (8/13/1948)
BRITTEN Albert Herring, Scene 1 Goldovsky/TMC Vocal Fellows (8/9/1949)
BERG Wozzeck (complete) Leinsdorf/TMCO/TMC Vocal Fellows (8/17/1969)
BRAHMS Zigeunerlieder TMC Fellows Stephanie Blythe & John Churchwell (7/13/1993)
BRITTEN Peter Grimes (complete) Ozawa/TMCO/TMC Vocal Fellows (7/30/1996)
BOLCOM Graceful Ghost Rag James Levine (7/9/2007)

It is easy to imagine that the TMC might not have had a vocal component. While it naturally follows that any school under the aegis of a major symphony orchestra would have an orchestral program, it doesn't necessarily make sense that there would singers too - except (thankfully) that this was part of Koussevitzky's vision from the start.  And so this week we are able to feature recordings from the TMC's vocal program, as we look forward to the August 2 performance of excerpts from operas closely tied to the TMC's history.

Koussevitzsky tapped his countryman Boris Goldovsky - who became one of the most prominent proponents of opera in America through his writings and teaching - to head the opera program in the early years, and they were fruitful years indeed. The old Theatre Concert Hall (the Eliel Saarinen building designed for opera productions) saw the American premieres of Britten's Albert Herring and Peter Grimes (the latter commissioned by Koussevitzky), Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Pique Dame, and (believe it or not) Mozart's Clemenza de Tito and Idomeneo.  Of these historic moments, unfortunately only the 1949 Herring recording is extant.  In scene one - the same excerpt to be performed August 2 - one finds the TMC students of the time negotiating the patter-y vocal writing with (mostly) great diction. (Lady Billows in this production was sung by Ellen Faull, who was the teacher of current faculty member Dawn Upshaw.)  The recording of Clemenza here is not of the full American premiere, but rather of a selection of scenes that took place four years earlier, perhaps to probe a little at an unfamiliar work before mounting a full production. Both these scenes and the later premiere were sung in English rather than the original Italian, and singing in one's native language coincidentally became a particular cause of the young vocal student singing the role of Vitellia in this recording: Phyllis Curtin, the legendary soprano who became an equally legendary teacher at Tanglewood. (She can be heard a little after five minutes in, singing "Oh help me find him!") The conductor of this performance was yet another operatic legend-in-the-making, conductor and impresario Sarah Caldwell, one of Goldovsky's protégés.

Goldovsky left Tanglewood in 1961, near the start of Erich Leinsdorf's tenure as Music Director. Although the vocal program continued during this time, opera moved out of the Theatre and into the Shed, and into the realm of the semi-staged and concert versions by both the BSO and TMC. From 1963-1969, The TMC orchestra and vocal students performed Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilèges, Act I of Wagner's Götterdämmerung, Schoenberg's Glückliche Hand, and Berg's Wozzeck, heard here. During his stint as leader at the TMC, Leinsdorf is acknowledged to have raised the standard of performance at the TMC. This is surely evidenced in this massive undertaking in a non-tonal musical language surely unfamiliar to most of the students, who play and sing with the shape and expressivity that they would bring to Wagner (whose wandering tonality distantly pre-figures this work).

For almost forty years, starting with Leinsdorf, opera at Tanglewood was done in this fashion - on the stage at the Shed, rather than in the Theatre. But it returned in dramatic fashion in 1996, on the fortieth anniversary of the Peter Grimes premiere, with a new production of the opera under Seiji Ozawa, whose increased interest in the art form and in the TMC had been growing over his years as BSO Music Director. (In this performance the role of Grimes is sung by Anthony Dean Griffey, who would go on to make the role a defining one in his career, performing it at the Metropolitan Opera and elsewhere.) After Grimes, opera productions again took root at the TMC, and naturally continued when James Levine became Music Director of the BSO, as he brought his particular expertise to productions and concert versions of works by Carter, Mozart, Strauss, Verdi, and Wagner. He is represented here, however, by a non-operatic gem: a performance of Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom (TMC 1966) that he gave at TMC Opening Exercises in 2007 - a graceful pianist, he, indeed.

With all this opera, one might have the impression that this is the principal focus of the TMC vocal program, but that is far from the case: since the beginning of the TMC, art song has been of great importance and remains as such, informing a singer's sensibilities across theatrical and chamber idioms.  Earlier in these releases, we featured a TMC Fellow from the 2000s (Jamie Barton), who went on to acclaim in opera, performing in song form. Now we feature one from the 1990s: Stephanie Blythe, here singing Brahms Zigeunerlieder in 1993, already displaying the robust, richly colored, and directly communicative voice that has made her an international star.

 

 

Week Five, July 21, 2015:

BSO

HINDEMITH Mathis der Maler TMCO/Michael Tilson Thomas (7/16/1969)
DRUCKMAN Delizie contente che l'alma beate TMC Fellows (8/6/1978)
BERG Kammerkonzerte TMC Fellows, Kirchner, Silverstein, & Serkin (8/3/1985)
DUTILLEUX Métaboles TMCO/de Leeuw (8/14/1997)
CRUMB Black Angels New Fromm Players (7/17/2003)
CARTER Soundfields TMCO/Asbury (7/20/2008)
MADERNA Giardino Religioso TMCO/Knussen (8/12/2010)

This week, in celebration of the 2015 Festival of Contemporary Music (FCM), our archival streams weave together personages and music of FCMs both past and present.

Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct the final concert of this year's FCM on July 27, in a program that features former TMC faculty (Bernstein, Foss, and Copland), as well as the "godfather" of American contemporary music, Charles Ives. Tilson Thomas was a conducting student in 1968 and 1969; in the fall of 1969 he immediately made the jump to BSO assistant conductor, and was later associate conductor, then principal guest conductor (through 1974). This performance, from his second year at the TMC, was not strictly part of FCM, but it does point to the very start of the TMC's continuous work with living composers with 1940 faculty member Paul Hindemith. Mathis der Maler is arguably Hindemith's best-known and most-played work, and one that TMC conducting students have led five times in seventy-five years, including performances by (in addition to Tilson Thomas) Loren Maazel, Marin Alsop, and Gustav Meier - apparently, leading Mathis at the TMC bodes well for one's career.

The remainder of the performances this week come from FCM proper, and the composers and conductors featured entwine with both FCM and the TMC Composition Program:

  • Stefan Asbury - Coordinator of New Music Activities: 1998-2001
  • Elliott Carter - Faculty: 1965, 1967, 1972, 1986, 1988, 1989, 2000, 2006-2007
  • George Crumb - Student: 1955; Faculty: 1970, 1976
  • Henri Dutilleux - Faculty: 1998
  • Jacob Druckman - Student: 1949-1950; Faculty: 1972, 1974, 1977-1978, 1991-1992
  • Leon Kirchner - Faculty: 1959-1960, 1985-1987, 1994
  • Oliver Knussen - Student: 1970-1971, 1973; Faculty: 1980-1981, 1986-1993 (chair), 1994-1995, 2001, 2010
  • Reinbert de Leeuw - FCM Director: 1994-1998
  • Bruno Maderna - Faculty: 1971-1972

The strong presence of new music at the TMC can be traced most specifically to two men: Koussevitzky - who was a firm believer in working contemporary composers, with whom he populated his faculty - and Paul Fromm.  Fromm was a philanthropist who championed new music, and in 1956 he successfully proposed to fund a series of Tanglewood concerts so dedicated. In 1964, then-BSO Music Director Erich Leinsdorf transformed these concerts into the permanent, week-long FCM we know today. Fromm's presence echoes still, in the New Fromm Players (NFP), who are funded by a grant from the foundation that bears his name and continues his work. The NFP are drawn from recent TMC "graduates" and work solely in this area of the repertoire, undertaking major projects during FCM and performing works by TMC Composition Fellows. (Attendees at this performance of Crumb's Black Angels will remember that they strode out like rock stars, clad in leather.) This year's New Fromm Players perform during FCM on July 25 and 27.

The music here represents the diversity of offerings typical of FCM, whether it is the modernist Stockhausen-ian electronica of the Druckman, the rich orchestral coloring of the Dutilleux, the pictorial use of extended techniques required by the Crumb, Carter's gradually and beautifully shifting textures, or the sparsely aleatoric Maderna. The inclusion of the Berg Kammerkonzert (composed in 1925) in the 1985 FCM demonstrates that, in addition to celebrating the most recent work of composers, the Festival also seeks to pay homage to (and educate students on) the classics of 20th century music - this performance features currently TMC faculty member Peter Serkin and former BSO concert-master and TMC faculty Chairman Joseph Silverstein. Note also that this week includes two TMC commissions, Maderna's Giardino Relisioso (premiered in 1972) and Carter's Soundfields (for which this is the world premiere recording), which reflect the TMC's tradition of helping new works into existence - a tradition stronger than ever in this 75th anniversary year, where over thirty are commissioned this year in honor of the occasion.

 

 

Week Four, July 14, 2015:

BSO

SCHULLER Symphony for Brass and Percussion Schuller/TMCO (8/13/1975)
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 Bernstein/TMCO (7/19/1976)
FOSS Concerto for Piano Left Hand TMCO/Ozawa & Fleisher (7/23/1994)
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 TMCO/Masur (8/16/2009)
SHOSTAKOVICH String Quartet No. 9 TMC Fellows (7/5/2015)

 

This week we look to several important leaders in the history of the TMC, and also have a chance to hear a freshly-minted performance by current TMC Fellows.

Gunther Schuller - who passed away on June 21, 2015 - was a towering presence at the TMC for over twenty years. Possessed of diverse talents, Schuller was principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera at age twenty, played with Miles Davis on the Birth of the Cool sessions, wrote for ensembles as varied as the Modern Jazz Quintet and the BSO, and was mentor to a generation of young composers. He came to Tanglewood in 1963 at the behest of Erich Leinsdorf, first as a member of the composition faculty, then as overseer of the newly-established Festival of Contemporary Music, and finally as TMC Artistic Director from 1970-1984. In this recording from 1975, Schuller conducts his own Symphony for Brass and Percussion, in which TMC students display their customary ease with contemporary repertoire, even with the super-human articulations that Schuller demands in the last movement. This summer the TMC gives the world premiere of newly-commissioned piece for twelve trumpets by Schuller - one of his last compositions - on July 23.

In the first week of these archival streams, we featured Leonard Bernstein as a TMC conducting student in 1940. This week we jump to near the midway point on Bernstein's fifty year association with Tanglewood. He had been absent, actually, for most of the 1960s, but he returned in dramatic style in 1970 as part of a "troika" of leadership at the TMC that included Seiji Ozawa and Schuller (he made a splash with a striking white suit and a provocative speech at Opening Exercises that year). Here he is in 1976, leading Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, drawing a ponderous opening fate motive from the brass (and then remarkable warmth from the strings), choreographing the "ballet" of the interior movements; and fighting hard to balance opposing forces in the crashing finale. The enthusiastic Shed audience for the occasion jumps the gun a few times with their eager applause. (This orchestra features current BSO members Jennie Shames and Sato Knudsen.)

Schuller was succeeded as Artistic Director at the TMC by Leon Fleisher, who held that post until 1997 and for whom the Carriage House, which contains the TMC administration, is named. This 1994 world-premiere of a BSO commission brings Fleisher together with two other pivotal TMC figures: Ozawa, whose significance goes without saying, and Lukas Foss, who was Bernstein's classmate in 1940 (as both a conducting and composition student), quickly made the leap to TMC faculty, and whose works have been a fixture at Tanglewood ever since. This then-new Concerto for the Left Hand joined a significant body of works in this genre, which arose when renowned concert pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right hand in World War I, and which Fleisher took up after an injury to his own right hand. At the end, the score calls for the orchestra members to exclaim the work's dedication: "Here's to LF, from LF."

Anyone in attendance at this 2009 season-ending concert of Brahms under Kurt Masur (who led the TMCO seven times) may remember well the way the string section undulated together, like one organism, more in the fashion of a European orchestra - something that seems almost audible in the recording. In the second movement, if listening carefully, one can hear Mr. Masur adding his own voice to the performance, exhorting the orchestra to the lyricism that characterizes this reading. Coincidentally, this piece capped off the TMCO's summer thrice in the space of ten years (also in 2003 and 2011), and the ebullient fourth movement makes as good a finale to any TMC season as one might imagine, its final moments a joyful sprint to the end of an exhausting and exhilarating summer of music making.

Lastly, with the 2015 TMC season now full swing, we have the chance to showcase some of the excellent work being done by this year's fresh crop of Fellows. This performance of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 9 (by TMC Fellows Heather Thomas, Ivana Jasova, Erica Schwartz, and Jacob Nierenz) closed the Sunday morning chamber music concert on July 5. Naturally, they had the energy left over to play in an equally-rousing TMCO concert that night.

 

Week Three, July 7, 2015:

BSO

HINDEMITH Konzertmusik for Strings & Brass TMCO/Hindemith (7/19/1940)
STRAVINSKY Symphony in Three Movements TMCO/Leinsdorf (7/21/1966)
IVES Selected Songs TMC Fellows Jamie Barton & Hiromi Fukuda (7/9/2006)
STRAUSS Burleske TMCO/Frühbeck & Ax (8/18/2008)
MENDELSSOHN Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20 TMC Fellows (8/16/2009)

 

This week we again look back the inaugural summer of the TMC, when Paul Hindemith led his own Konzertmusik for Strings and Brass, which the TMCO performs this summer on July 13. The piece has a strong association with BSO, Koussevitzky having commissioned it for the 50th anniversary in 1931 (along with Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms and several other notable works). With Hindemith on the composition faculty that summer, Koussevitzky obviously couldn't pass up the chance to have the student orchestra play the piece under its composer - the beginning of the TMC's proud tradition of students working with living composers. This recording, retrieved from the Library of Congress, reveals a brass section that is perhaps a little more coherent than the strings at times, but yet there is also that assuredness in the performance that comes with the composer on the podium.

Erich Leinsdorf - Music Director of the BSO and Director of the TMC from 1962 to 1969 - was also a firm believer in exposing the TMC students to contemporary music (it was he who established the week-long Festival of Contemporary Music). Today one might regard Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements as a classic of the 20th century repertoire, but in 1967 the ink had been dry for only twelve years. Leinsdorf's reading feels a bit more expansive than one might find in the concert hall these days, but the purposefulness in the orchestra reflects the steady hand of the visionary musician holding the baton. The other offering from the TMCO this week features two of its most beloved recent collaborators: the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Emanuel Ax (the timpanist who provides the famous opening strokes is Kyle Zerna, currently percussionist with the New York Philharmonic). Mr. Ax performs again with the TMCO this summer on July 20 in the world premiere of Rob Zuidam's new piano concerto, commissioned for Ax by the TMC in honor the 75th anniversary.

Art song is an integral part of the vocal program at Tanglewood, and even those singers who aspire to operatic careers find their ability to convey text and meaning informed by study of the song literature. 2006 TMC Fellow Jamie Barton has gone on to excel in both areas, winning the Main and the Song Prizes at the 2013 BBC Cardiff Competition (a rare feat). Considering her fluency in communicating the immediacy of popular idioms as adapted by Ives, one might not have predicted her future acclaim in roles such as Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma at the Metropolitan Opera, but this points exactly to the kind of diversified singer for which the TMC is looking during auditions. Vocal concerts take place this week on July 7 and 12.

As it is with Lieder in the vocal program, chamber music too is central to the TMC's instrumental program, complementing the intensive orchestral activities. Mendelssohn's Octet, one of the most epic chamber pieces in the repertoire, is always a major undertaking, especially with limited rehearsal time allotted by the busy TMC schedule. This 2009 performance is remarkable for the youthful energy that is a hallmark of the TMC, but also exhibits a kind of old-world charm in its flexibility and tone. The TMC performs this work again this summer on August 16 as part of the weekly series of Sunday morning chamber music concerts.

 

 

Week Two, June 30, 2015:

BSO

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 TMCO/Tennstedt (8/27/1977)
VAUGHAN-WILLIAMS Symphony No. 5 TMCO/Previn (7/23/1980)
HARRIS Symphony No. 3 TMCO/Alsop (8/21/1988)
RUGGLES  Sun-Treader TMCO/Spano (8/10/1995)
RACHMANINOFF Symphonic Dances TMCO/Asbury (7/11/2011)

 

In this second week of TMC archival recording releases, we acknowledge the summer's first TMCO concert on July 5 by releasing five TMCO recordings that span thirty-five years.

Klaus Tennstedt made regular appearances at Tanglewood from 1974 to 1983, including three times on the TMCO podium. This performance of Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 - in which the notorious difficultly of its opening horn entrance is in evidence - is remarkable for its sense of line and atmosphere. 1977 Trumpet Fellow Dennis Alves (currently Director of Artist Planning for the Boston POPS) recalls that Tennstedt " found things in the music that none of us in the orchestra knew were there - subtleties that brought the music alive. He taught us that it WASN'T just about blowing our brains out. He taught us how to understand Bruckner.  It was quite an experience."

The rest of these recordings provide snapshots of various points on the TMCO timeline. The Vaughan-Williams performance was the first of Sir André Previn's five appearances on the podium. That year's orchestra delivered a remarkably clean and understated performance that conveys well the serene quality of the piece, and included future BSO members Rachel Fagerburg (viola) and Victor Romanul (violin), and 2015 TMC guest faculty member Roberto Diaz, now President of the Curtis Institute of Music and former Principal Viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Marin Alsop, currently Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, was a Conducting Fellow in 1988, when she led this shapely performance of the Roy Harris Symphony No. 3 in the Koussevitzky Music Shed, under the tutelage of by Leonard Bernstein (see the photo that accompanies this week's release). The Harris is in line with the populist style of former TMC faculty Chairman Aaron Copland, in contrast to Sun-Treader, which exhibits the hard-edged American brand of Modernism that Carl Ruggles helped establish in reaction to similar trends in Europe. This work was presented as part of the 1995 Festival of Contemporary Music under Robert Spano, whose association with the TMC began first when he was BSO Assistant Conductor, and who eventually went on to coordinate the conducting program from the late 1990s into the 21st century.

The most recent TMC performance this week features 1990 TMC alumnus Stefan Asbury leading a taut rendering of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances.  Asbury is currently coordinator of the conducting program, and principal conductor on the July 5th TMCO concert. Comparing this 2011 performance to the 1977 Bruckner, one can hear the improvements in acoustic environs and audio recording technology at the TMC, especially once concerts moved from the Theatre to the newly-built Ozawa Hall in 1994. Whatever these enhancements, however, it is clear that although the TMCO has always been great, it has perhaps never been better than in recent years.

 

 

Week One, June 23, 2015:

BSO

BERLIOZ Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 TMCO/Koussevitzky (7/19/1940)
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Scheherazade, Op. 35 TMCO/Bernstein (7/26/1940)
HAYDN String Quartet in C major Op. 20 No. 2 String Quartet Seminar/TMC Fellows (7/8/1999)
BARTÓK String Quartet No. 4, mvt. I String Quartet Seminar/TMC Fellows (7/8/1999)
THOMPSON Alleluia Opening Exercises/TMC Fellows (7/2/2014)
STRAVINSKY Firebird (complete) TMCO/Dutoit (8/17/2014)

 

In this first week of the 2015 TMC, we look back to the most distant recordings of the TMC Orchestra, but also to its most recent performances. Two remarkable documents from the TMC's inaugural year of 1940, retrieved from the Library of Congress, feature both BSO Music Director Koussevitzky and TMC conducting student Leonard Bernstein. This is surely the earliest extant recording of Bernstein conducting anything, anywhere. These performances are not quite perfect - in a letter subsequent to the season, Bernstein noted some "bad slips in the solos" in Scheherazade - but they do capture the quick coalescence and energy that has been a hallmark of this ensemble since its beginnings (the Berlioz performance took place just ten days after the students' arrival). Seventy-four years later, one finds the orchestra possessed of the same spirit in 2014's season-ending performance of Stravinsky's complete Firebird under Charles Dutoit.

We also feature a recording from the annual String Quartet Seminar, which has been the very first activity for violin, viola, and cello Fellows since 1998, at which time the Juilliard String Quartet presided. During the week-long seminar, each of the fourteen newly-formed quartets studies a work by Haydn and a work from the Romantic or Modern repertoire. In the marathon performances at the end of the week, the quartets perform these pieces either in whole or in part, as determined by which movements they were able to bring to fruition to during this short but intensive period. This release captures the spirit of this practice, featuring a whole performance by one 1999 quartet, in which they play Haydn in its entirety, and the first movement of a Bartók quartet.

Lastly, to mark the start of the summer, we include a recording of the Randall Thompson Alleluia, which all TMC Fellows sing at the conclusion of Opening Exercises each summer, here in 2014 led as usual by Tanglewood Festival Chorus Director John Oliver. 

 

BSOAbout the TMC75 Archival Recording Project

Recordings are published in the form of a "virtual concert" comprised of several performances from throughout the TMC's history, surveying both vintage and modern eras, symphonic and operatic genres, music for smaller ensembles, and the contemporary music that has been central to the TMC's mission for 75 years. In many cases, the releases will specifically relate to the activities at the TMC that very week.

These releases represent and pay tribute to the myriad luminaries who have made the TMC one of the world's most renowned  educational centers for young musicians, including among its leadership Serge Koussevitsky, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Boris Goldovsky, Erich Leinsdorf, Seiji Ozawa, Gunther Schuller, and Leon Fleischer, to name only a few.  Additionally, this project highlights many of the great guest conductors who have led the TMC Orchestra, including Christoph von Dohnanyi, Charles Dutoit, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Kurt Masur, and  Michael Tilson Thomas; students who went on to become BSO members, TMC faculty members, or other prominent members of the musical community; composers who enjoy a close association with the TMC; and other distinguished musicians who regularly collaborate with the TMC. 

The bulk of this material, especially recordings from before 1995, has been drawn from reel-to-reel tapes and re-mastered for publication to the web.  Although material prior to 1975 is scarce, and material prior to 1960 is quite rare, several recordings from the historic early years from Library of Congress exist. These include: the 1949 US premiere of Britten's Albert Herring, a 1948 performance of excerpts from Mozart's La clemenza di Tito featuring legendary TMC faculty member Phyllis Curtin, and three TMC Orchestra performances from the inaugural 1940 season, conducted by Paul Hindemith, Koussevitsky, and Bernstein.

The small sample exhibited in this project represents just a small fraction of the fascinating audio material contained in the BSO archives.  The generous grants from both the National Historical Publications and Records Commissions and the Grammy Foundation will make it possible to transfer the entire body of old TMC Orchestra recordings from reel-to-reel tape to a digital format.  

This project would not have been possible without the help of many people, especially the project sponsors Cynthia and Robert J. Lepofsky and Joyce Linde, as noted above. Thanks also to Bridget Carr, Barbara Perkel, and the entire team in the BSO Archives; colleagues at BSO who gave invaluable suggestions as to memorable performances; those who lent their ears to this project in evaluating recordings; Nick Squire for mastering content and George Blood Audio for performing reel-to-reel transfers; and the dozens of conductors, instrumentalists, and singers - or the heirs or estates - who have generously and graciously allowed their performances to be included in this project.

Enjoy!

Michael Nock
TMC Associate Director for Student Affairs