Billy the Kid is a 1938 ballet written by the American composer Aaron Copland on commission from Lincoln Kirstein. It was choreographed by Eugene Loring for Ballet Caravan. Along with Rodeo and Appalachian Spring, it is one of Copland’s most popular and widely performed pieces. The ballet is most famous for its incorporation of several cowboy tunes and American folk songs and, although built around the figure and the exploits of Billy the Kid, is not so much a biography of a notorious but peculiarly appealing desperado as it is a perception of the pioneer West, in which a figure such as Billy played a vivid role.
It was premiered on 16 October 1938 in Chicago by the Ballet Caravan Company, with pianists Arthur Gold and Walter Hendl performing a two-piano version of the score. The first performance of Billy the Kid in New York City occurred on 24 May 1939, with an orchestra conducted by Fritz Kitzinger.
Thinking like a mountain is a term coined by Aldo Leopold in his book A Sand County Almanac. In the section entitled “Sketches Here and There” Leopold discusses the thought process as a holistic view on where one stands in the entire ecosystem.
This work was premiered in October, 1994 by the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra; Roanoke, VA
Co-commissioned by: Shanghai Symphony (China), Billings Symphony (MT), Elgin Symphony (IL) and Explore Park (VA).
A selection of music from the show.
The Symphony No. 5 in D major/D minor, Op. 107, known as the Reformation, was composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1830 in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. The Confession is a key document of Lutheranism and its Presentation to Emperor Charles V in June 1530 was a momentous event of the Protestant Reformation. This symphony was written for a full orchestra and was Mendelssohn’s second extended symphony. It was not published until 1868, 21 years after the composer’s death – hence its numbering as ‘5’. Although the symphony is not very frequently performed, it is better known today than it was during Mendelssohn’s lifetime.
Alexander Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto in A-flat major (1950) is the Armenian composer’s sixth major composition, a “virtuoso showpiece” composed in 1949-1950. According to J. Sundram, “it is an energetic powerhouse of Eastern European lyricism and harmonic textures”.
Arutiunian’s engaging and idiomatic trumpet concerto was “quickly assimilated into the standard trumpet repertoire worldwide, earning highest international praise from audiences, critics and performers”. In an interview with Allan Kozinn of The New York Times, Philip Smith, the principal trumpeter of the New York Philharmonic, observed that Arutunian’s Trumpet Concerto was frequently chosen as an audition piece at Juilliard. “One of the reasons this piece has become so popular…” Smith said, “is just that it’s a flashy piece. It has a very gypsyish, Russian, Armenian kind of sound, with very soulful, beautiful melodies and plenty of exciting rapid-tonguing kind of things.'” * Professor Anatoly Selyanin related in 2004, “In January I headed the jury of an American competition devoted to the Arutiunian trumpet concerto. 34 trumpeters played only this concerto.” Selyanin said that “even a dog”, if admitted to a performance, would recognise the musical structure at once and “know that in eight steps the concerto will be complete”…
The premiere of the concerto was given in Budapest on November 9, 1881, with Brahms as soloist, and was an immediate success. He proceeded to perform the piece in many cities across Europe.
Here’s a favorite rendition of the second-movement scherzo.
Bach’s four Suites (or “ouvertures”) were probably written between 1725 and 1738 in Leipzig and performed at the famous coffeehouse concerts by the Collegium Musicum, directed by the composer.
The fourth suite begins with a magnificent overture, consisting of a resplendent, processional introduction followed by a fuga alla gigue in 9/8 meter which displays Bach’s supreme mastery of counterpoint as well as brilliant virtuoso writing for the whole orchestra.
There are then a lively Bourrée, a sturdy Gavotte, and a graceful Minuet, the last having a central section scored for solo strings. The suite ends with a show-stopping finale entitled “rejouissance,” which bubbles over with joyous high spirits.