Wolpe-at-piano

THE STEFAN WOLPE SOCIETY BULLETIN

OCTOBER 2012


NEW AND REVISED EDITIONS OF COMPOSITIONS FOR
ORCHESTRA, JAZZ BAND, WIND BAND, PIANO, VOICE,
AND “ANY INSTRUMENTS”


I. MUSIC FOR ORCHESTRA

1. THE MAN FROM MIDIAN, 1942 (35:00)
First Edition of the Complete Ballet Suite for Orchestra by Antony Beaumont (Peermusic)
Wolpe composed “The Man from Midian” for two pianos on the scenario for Eugene Loring’s Dance Players. Wolpe orchestrated the First Suite, which was performed by Dmitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic in 1951. On commission from the Stefan Wolpe Society, Antony Beaumont orchestrated the Second Suite. On the basis of the original materials, Mr. Beaumont corrected and revised the entire score and prepared a new set of parts. Further info here

2. PASSACAGLIA FOR ORCHESTRA, 1937 (11:30)
Revised Edition by Austin Clarkson (Presser)
The “Passacaglia” for Piano, Wolpe’s signature piece, was his vision of dodecaphony for the socialist utopia. The conductor William Steinberg invited Wolpe to orchestrate the “Passacaglia,” but the Palestine Symphony turned it down. It was not performed until 1983, eleven years after the composer’s death. The score and parts of the “Passacaglia for Orchestra” have been corrected on the basis of the new edition of “Four Studies on Basic Rows.” Further info here


II. JAZZ BAND AND WIND ENSEMBLE

3. ENSEMBLE PIECES, 1929, 1932 New Critical Edition by Thomas Phleps (Peermusic)

3a. Suite for Cabaret ANTI, 1929 (10:00)
Wolpe composed a suite of three pieces for jazz ensemble for the opening of the Berlin Cabaret “ANTI” in 1929. The central piece accompanies the declamation of a poem by Erich Kästner, “Voices from the Common Grave,” a bitter denunciation of the living by those who died in the war. The Suite begins with a somber Blues and ends with a strident March.
1. Blues
2. “Stimmen aus den Massengrab” (Erich Kästner)
3. Marsch

3b. Cantata on Sport, 1932 (5:00), Sport Revue, “Alles an den roten Start”
Wolpe wrote numbers for jazz ensemble, wind band and chorus for a review that promoted athletics for the working classes. The event on Feb. 14, 1932 drew 4,000 people. The Review was a great success, despite the fact that the German police closed it down near the end. Three numbers and two fragments survive.
1. Marsch
2. Song, Zweierlei Tempi: “Das ist der Sport der herrschenden Klasse” (Siegfried Moos)
3. Song, “Stählt die Muskeln,” (Siegfried Moos)
Further info here

III. ONE AND TWO PIANOS

4a. FOUR STUDIES ON BASIC ROWS FOR PIANO, 1935-1936 (30:00)
Critical Edition by Austin Clarkson and David Holzman (Presser)
Wolpe composed “Four Studies on Basic Rows” as twelve-tone music for the people. The first edition of “Four Studies” was published two years after the composer’s death in 1972. The new critical edition was edited by Austin Clarkson and David Holzman. In the “Preface” Clarkson traces the sources of the “Four Studies” and Wolpe’s successive revisions, and in “Notes to the Performer” Holzman discusses form, passagework, rhythm, texture, touch, pedaling and expression. Further info here

4b. “PASSACAGLIA” AND “PRESTO FURIOSO” FOR TWO PIANOS, 1936 (20:00)
New Edition by Austin Clarkson (Presser)
Wolpe arranged the “Passacaglia” and “Presto Furioso” from the “Four Studies on Basic Rows” for two pianos so that he and Irma Wolpe could perform them.
Further info here

4c. REVIEWS OF DAVID HOLZMAN’S PREMIERE RECORDING OF “FOUR STUDIES” (Bridge 9344)
Further info here

5. SONATINA FOR PIANO, 1918 (3:30) New Edition by Sherri Jones (Stefan Wolpe Society)
A pencil sketch for a Sonatina movement was found among the papers of the composer’s daughter, the pianist Katharina Wolpe, The date 1918 marks it as the earliest known piece by Wolpe. The pianist Sherri Jones, who specializes in music of the early 20th century, edited the score, which shows a gifted 15-year old who was already sampling the music of Scriabin. Further info here

V. VOICE

6. ARRANGEMENTS OF SIX YIDDISH FOLKSONGS 1925 (15:16)
New Edition by David Bloch and Austin Clarkson (Peermusic)
Wolpe arranged 13 Yiddish folk songs for medium voice and piano for the singer Rahel Ermolnikoff, who specialized in Jewish folksongs from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He included them on his Berlin debut concert in 1925. Six of the arrangements survive. Further info here

7. CANTATA FRAGMENT “Als er gegen seine Schöne” (Johann Christian Günther), 1925 (4:00)
For High Voice and Piano. New edition by Austin Clarkson (Stefan Wolpe Society)
Johann Christian Günther (1695-1723) was a precursor of Goethe and the Sturm und Drang school of Romantic poets. The poem of eight stanzas expresses the utmost suffering of a lover who seeks forgiveness from the beloved for his untoward behavior. The Cantata Fragment (58 bars) is a through-composed scene with an aura of Gustav Mahler. The setting breaks off near the end of Stanza 2 and resumes for Stanza 6. Further info here

8. TWO SONGS FOR BASS AND PIANO, 1938 (10:18)
1. Die Reichen Sich das Rechts Erfreuen (Michulás Dacisky von Heslova)
2. An Dich (Walt Whitman)
New Edition by Austin Clarkson (Stefan Wolpe Society)
The poem by the 17th-century Bohemian nobleman Dacisky von Heslova is a call for social justice. Walt Whitman’s poem from Leaves of Grass is a wistful appeal for friendship. Further info here

9. FOUR SONGS OF THE JEWISH PIONEERS, 1938 (10:00)
Arranged for string quartet and voice by Stefano Pierini (Stefan Wolpe Society)
The melodies of these four “Palestinian folk songs” were by amateur musicians who immigrated to Palestine from Russia and Poland in the 1920s and 1930. The Italian composer Stefano Pierini arranged the songs for string quartet. Further info here
1. “Saleinu Al K’tefeinu” [Our baskets on our shoulders]. Text: Levi Ben-Amitai; Melody: Shalom Postolsky.
2. “Ra’inu amaleinu” [We beheld our toil]. Text: Levin Kipsni. Melody: Admon.
3. “Tel Aviv hi ir y’yudit” [Tel Aviv is a Jewish city]. Text and Melody anon.
4. “Holem tza’adi” [My step resounds]. Text: Jacob Schoenberg; Melody: Mordechai Zaira.

VI. “ANY INSTRUMENTS”

TWENTY CANONS, 1935-1937 New Edition by Austin Clarkson (Stefan Wolpe Society)
At the time of the “Four Studies on Basic Rows” Wolpe wrote a number of contrapuntal studies in a sketchbook, probably as models for his students at the Palestine Conservatoire. Some are diatonic and some are twelve-tone. One is a 12-tone study for solo clarinet. Further info here