February is the unofficial month of love. St. Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it. Lovers and admirers will be exchanging tokens of affection.
The notion of “courtly love” developed toward the end of the 11th century in France. As our romantic ancestors viewed it, courtly love was a spiritual high combining erotic desire and spiritual attainment. According to Francis X. Newman, courtly love is “a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent.”
Small wonder that art is the ideal medium to convey these intangible qualities. From Bach to the Beatles, “Love is All You Need.” And that is the theme for The Folsom Symphony’s Feb. 9 concert.
The symphony plans a romantic evening featuring the works of five classical masters.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) emerged from the “classical” world of music and stepped into the beginning of the “romantic era” of music. His “Symphony No. 6: Pastoral” will open the concert.
Originally titled “Recollections of Country Life” this work was different from his others. It was intended to evoke emotions and memories in the audience.
“It is left to the listener to find out the situations … Anyone that has formed any ideal of rural life does not need titles to imagine the composer’s intentions,” said Beethoven.
The “Fanfare für die Wiener Philharmoniker” (Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare) was composed by Richard Strauss (1864–1949) in 1924 for love of retired musicians. It was first performed as guests arrived at the organization’s first benefit ball for retired musicians. Featuring striking brass textures, this work by the son of the principal horn player for the Munich Court Orchestra has been played every year since.
Giovanni Gabrieli (1554–1612) was among the first composers to define the boundaries of sound — loud and soft — in his work. His “Antiphonal Brass Choir” creates vistas of sound, despite varying positions in a given space. There is a sense of “oneness” and order coming from the “voices” of many.
The Folsom Symphony is known for its guest performers and special performances. This concert is no exception. Sacramento tenor Jaeho Lee will accompany the orchestra in two works by Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924): “Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot,” and “E Lucevan le Stelle” from “Tosca.” Both are famous tenor arias dedicated to love’s passion.
The evening concludes with one of the great “pops” works: “Boléro” by composer Maurice Ravel (1875–1937). It was commissioned by Russian ballerina Ida Rubenstein and remains Ravel’s most popular work. Movie lovers will recognize this work as the theme from the movie “10” with Bo Derek.
So as you plan your Valentine’s Day celebration with your beloved, do so in the time-honored traditional way of courtly love: sweets for the sweet, fine dining, gifts and noble music. And perhaps a poem or two. If your beloved needs a little prompting here’s a starter:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Folsom Symphony’s grand
How ’bout tickets for two?
For tickets call (916) 916-608-6888 or visit threestages.net. “Love is All You Need” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9. The performance will be held at Folsom Lake College’s Three Stages, 10 College Parkway. Also visit folsomsymphony.com.
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