Gershwin meets Beethoven with the Humboldt Symphony

The Humboldt Symphony performs well-known pieces by Gershwin and Beethoven on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, Dec. 9 and 11.

George Gershwin's symphonic tone poem "An American in Paris" is his most famous work, after "Rhapsody in Blue." "You hear the sounds of the Paris streets of the 1920s, even the taxi horns," said Humboldt Symphony conductor Paul Cummings. "It has elements of jazz, blues and ragtime -- popular styles heard in a cabaret but in a symphonic setting. Gershwin himself described it as "a light, jolly piece, a series of impressions musically expressed ... It's not a Beethoven symphony, you know."

Beethoven's Egmont Overture is not a symphony either but in compact form it exemplifies the majestic power of his music. The Overture commemorates a nobleman (Count Egmont) who sacrificed his life to take a stand against oppression. Beethoven was so effective in expressing this theme that this music became the unofficial anthem of the 1956 rebellion against Soviet control in Hungary.

The Symphony program also includes the first and second movements of Alexander Borodin's Polovtsian Dances, which include all the dances from Act II of the play Dance of the Polovtsian Maidens.

The Brook Green Suite by Gustav Holst is entirely a string orchestra piece. "All the instruments have independent voice," Cummings said, "and there's some wonderful counterpoint." Known as Holst's most accessible work, the Brook Green Suite was the last of his music that Holst heard performed.

Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID.

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submitted photo

The Humboldt Symphony will perform music by Beethoven and Gershwin at its Dec. 9 and Dec. 11 concert.