David Alexander Rahbee conducts the University of Washington Symphony in a program of music by Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, Valentin Silvestrov, and Richard Strauss. With Clara Osowski, mezzo soprano, and Music History faculty Frederick Reece, narration, on Clara Schumann’s Four Songs.
Scenes from Goethe’s Faust: Overture: Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Four Songs: Clara Schumann (1819-1896), orchd. by D. A. Rahbee
Liebst du um Schönheit? (Rückert)
Warum willst du and’re fragen? (Rückert)
Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen (Heine)
Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano; Frederick Reece, speaker
Prayer for Ukraine: Valentin Silvestov (b. 1937), orchd. by Eduard Resatsch
Daren Weissfisch, conductor
Death and Transfiguration, op. 24..................................................................... Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
By Mica Weiland
Robert Schumann (1810-1856): Overture to Scenes from Goethe’s Faust (1853)
Robert Schumann was a German composer and pianist. While best known for his piano music and songs, he also made a significant contribution to the choral and symphonic repertoire. His father was an author and a book dealer, exposing young Robert to a variety of literature. This proves significant, as many of his works are based on or inspired by literature. Goethe’s tragic play Faust portrays a man who sells his soul to the devil to perform magic and gain worldly pleasures. Goethe’s Faust has been extremely influential and inspired Hector Berlioz’s oratorio The Damnation of Faust, Franz Liszt’s Faust Symphony, Richard Wagner’s Faust Overture, and the second and final part of Mahler’s Symphony no. 8.
Through his career, Schumann tended to focus on one musical genre at a time. His work on Scenes from Goethe’s Faust began in 1844 and ended in 1853. As a result of this nine-year period, the complete work spans many of Schumann’s compositional periods including his oratorio period, and his dramatic period. The overture was written at the end and therefore is most representative of his dramatic music. The complete oratorio is scored for chorus, children’s chorus, and several solo singers in addition to the orchestra and lasts over two hours; it is therefore rare that it is performed in its entirety. While Schumann’s overture may be less famous than some other pieces inspired by the same story, it is a phenomenal piece of music and truly evocative of the legend of Faust.
Clara Schumann (1819-1896): Four Songs (orch. Rahbee)
Clara Schumann (née Wieck) was a German composer, pianist, and teacher. Her father made a living by renting out and repairing pianos, as well as teaching lessons. As her father rapidly gained a reputation as a master piano teacher, Clara began taking lessons from him and made her solo debut at the age of eleven. Throughout her childhood she received a comprehensive musical education from her father as well as from the best teachers in Germany, on subjects including orchestration, violin, theory, harmony, counterpoint, and composition. She continued to have numerous solo engagements and it was during one of her performances that she met Robert Schumann. Robert, who was nine years Clara’s elder, had begun taking piano lessons with her father just months before they met. Inspired by Clara’s virtuosic playing, he dedicated several of his works to her. It was Clara who perpetuated Robert’s music until he eventually became a household name, and who was ultimately in charge of preparing his complete works for publication after his premature death.
After the Schumanns married in 1840, Clara’s compositional style changed. She was maturing as an artist and the constant exposure to Robert’s work had influenced her as well. It was during this stage of her life that she had begun to focus on composing songs. She composed these four songs between 1841-1843, and they are based on poems from Friedrich Rückert’s Spring of Love and Heinrich Heine’s poem Die Lorelei. These poems and Clara’s subsequent compositions deal largely with themes of love, beauty, and nature. The songs were written for a lyrical solo voice with virtuosic piano accompaniment to bring the feeling of the poems to life. Dr. Rahbee selected these four songs and orchestrated them in the style of Robert and Clara Schumann.
Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937): Prayer for Ukraine (orchd. Eduard Resatsch)
Valentin Silvestrov is a Ukrainian composer and pianist. His compositional style vastly focuses on neoclassicism and post-modernism. His output includes symphonic works, full-scale choral works, and chamber pieces. His Prayer for Ukraine was composed in 2014 after the Russo-Ukrainian conflict broke out in 2013. Silvestrov was inspired to write this piece after many visits to Kiev in which peaceful protestors were singing prayers and songs of hope. He had been working out of his home in Kyiv from 1970 until 2022, when he relocated to Berlin due to the most recent conflict. Composing this is his way of spreading a message of peace and hope for all those affected by war. This piece was originally written for mixed choir and. and exists in at least two different orchestrations. The original choral version revolves around very few, yet extremely powerful lyrics: “Lord, protect [the] Ukraine. Give us power, faith, and hope. Our Father.”
Richard Strauss (1864-1949): Death and Transfiguration, op. 24 (Tod und Verklärung) (1889)
Richard Strauss was a German conductor and composer with a career spanning over eight decades. Raised in a musical household, his father played horn and encouraged young Richard to play piano, violin, and take lessons in composition. Strauss contributed to many different genres, but the one he made the most significant impact on is tone poetry. Often citing his inspirations as the music of Brahms and Wagner, it was the tone poems of Liszt that truly pushed Strauss to explore the genre. Some characteristics of Strauss’ symphonic compositions include large instrumentation, dense orchestration, lush melodic content, and thematic transformation. His works are often regarded as part of the “realism movement” due to their programmatically literal nature.
Death and Transfiguration was written in 1889 when Strauss was just twenty-five years old. It was dedicated to one of his friends and depicts the death of an artist. The piece is in four sections; the first section starts with the timpani, depicting a shallow irregular heartbeat as the man lies dying in his bed. The second section begins with an agitated allegro as the man experiences sharp pains and fights the battle between life and death. It is in this section that we are introduced to the transfiguration theme that will recur throughout the piece. Section three is at first sweet and serene, as the man reminisces about his life and his childhood innocence, and later dashing and confident. After this he experiences more sharp pains and dies. It is after his death that the audience becomes privy to the fourth section, where the longed-for transfiguration occurs. The fast-ascending notes are intended to depict the man’s soul leaving his body, and as the theme repeats his soul climbs higher into the afterlife.
University of Washington Symphony Orchestra
David Alexander Rahbee, Music Director and Conductor
Mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski, who sings "from inside the music with unaffected purity and sincerity" (UK Telegraph), is an active soloist and chamber musician hailed for her "rich and radiant voice" (UrbanDial Milwaukee). She was a Metropolitan Opera National Council Upper-Midwest Regional Finalist, the winner of several competitions including Bel Canto Chorus Regional Artists Competition of Milwaukee, the Houston Saengerbund Competition, several time runner-up in The Schubert Club Bruce P. Carlson Scholarship Competition, and third place in the Madison Handel Aria Competition. Recognized for her excellence in Minnesota, Clara was a recipient of the prestigious 2018-2019 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Musicians administered by MacPhail Center for Music.
In international competition with pianist Tyler Wottrich, in March of 2017, Clara became the first ever American prize winner when she placed second at Thomas Quasthoff's International Das Lied Competition in Heidelberg, Germany. Later that year, the duo was also one of four to reach the finals in the very prestigious Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation Song Competition in London, and Clara was awarded the Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert Lieder. She recently won the Radio-Canada People’s Choice Award and third place in the song division at the 2018 Concours Musical International de Montréal.
Recent performance highlights include her debut with Minnesota Opera as Mrs. Herring in Britten’s Albert Herring, and active as a recitalist, she stepped in for Susanna Philips in The Schubert Club International Artist Series Recital with Eric Owens. She has also been a feature recitalist at the Enlightenment Festival of Seraphic Fire, The Pablo Center of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, and several universities. She has collaborated with many chamber musicians, including pianist Wu Han, The Lydian String Quartet, VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, Accordo, and Dark Horse Consort. Clara’s passion for contemporary music is exhibited in the song-cycles and chamber music she has premiered or commissioned by numerous composers including James Kallembach, Libby Larsen, David Evan Thomas, Linda Kachelmeier, Reinaldo Moya, Carol Barnett, and Juliana Hall.
Orchestral performance highlights include her soloist debuts of Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee, B Minor Mass with the Back Bay Chorale of Boston, Christmas Oratorio with Bach Society of Minnesota, Mozart’s Requiem with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with Tulsa Signature Symphony, Bernstein’s Jeremiah with Mid-Columbia Symphony, and Dominick Argento's orchestral song cycles Casa Guidi and A few words about Chekhov with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra of Minneapolis.
Active also as an educator, Clara has enjoyed giving masterclasses and convocations at several universities, including Syracuse University, Muhlenberg College, Seattle University, Concordia College (Moorhead), and North Dakota State University. She was also the guest artist in residence at Indiana State University's 50th Contemporary Music Festival celebrating the music of Libby Larsen. Clara also served on the faculty at the Aspen Music Festival's Professional Choral Institute in partnership with Seraphic Fire, and has been a panelist for SongFest and the Lakes Area Music Festival.
Previous season highlights include her Wigmore Hall debut recital with Julius Drake, debuts with Kansas City Symphony and Handel and Haydn Society, a premiere oratorio with the National Lutheran Choir by Steve Heitzig, and a premiere orchestral song cycle by Carol Barnett with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Please visit the schedule for more information.
In addition to performing, Clara serves as the Artistic Director of Source Song Festival, a week-long art song festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This festival strives to create and perform new art song, and cultivate an educational environment for students of song, including composers, vocalists, and collaborative pianists. In addition to her solo work, she participates in a number of ensembles, including Lumina Women’s Ensemble, Lorelei Ensemble, and Seraphic Fire.
Frederick Reece's research centers on the music and culture of the long nineteenth century, with a particular focus on issues of authorship and authenticity.
His first book project, Forgery in Musical Composition: Aesthetics, History, and the Canon (in press, OUP), examines compositional forgeries—pieces deliberately misattributed to such figures as Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert—from a wide range of music historical, analytical, and philosophical perspectives. The volume is both a narrative chronicle of forgery in classical music culture and a meditation on problems of value judgment, stylistic imitation, and (in)authenticity writ large.
Further areas of research interest include music and intellectual property law, artificial intelligence in music, the history of music theory, and issues in philosophical aesthetics. Reece's articles and reviews on these and other topics have appeared in such venues as the Journal of Musicology and the Journal of the American Musicological Society.
Before joining the faculty at the University of Washington in 2021, Reece was postdoctoral resident scholar and visiting assistant professor in music theory at Indiana University and lecturer in musicology and music theory at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. He was educated at the University of Oxford (B.A.) and at Harvard University (M.A., Ph.D.), and has been the recipient of numerous research awards, including the American Musicological Society's Paul A. Pisk Prize and Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Fellowship.
David Alexander Rahbee is currently Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle, where he is Director of Orchestral Activities and Chair of Orchestral Conducting. He is Music Director and Conductor of the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra and founder of the UW Campus Philharmonia Orchestras. He is a recipient of the American-Austrian Foundation's 2003 Herbert von Karajan Fellowship for Young Conductors, the 2005 International Richard-Wagner-Verband Stipend, a fellowship the Acanthes Centre in Paris (2007), and is first prize winner in conducting from The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts for 2020. His work at UW has earned national recognition. In 2021 he was praised by The American Prize as “Consistently one of the most courageous and comprehensive [orchestral] programmers working in higher education in the U.S. today…”
Dr. Rahbee has appeared in concert with orchestras such as the Seattle Symphony, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Kammerphilharmonie Berlin-Brandenburg, Guernsey Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony, National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Orchesterakademie der Bochumer Symphoniker, the Dresden Hochschule orchestra, Grand Harmonie, the Boston New Music Initiative, Seattle Modern Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Loja (Ecuador), Savaria Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Cool Opera of Norway (members of the Stavanger Symphony), Schönbrunner Schloss Orchester (Vienna), the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, the Kennett Symphony, and the Divertimento Ensemble of Milan. His collaborations with the Seattle Symphony include assistant conductor for the performance and recording of Ives’ Fourth Symphony, and as guest conductor for their Native Lands project and the North American premiere of Páll Ragnar Pallson's Quake with faculty cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir. He has collaborated with several prominent soloists such as Sarah Chang, Jon Kimura Parker, Yekwon Sunwoo, Glenn Dicterow and Jonathan Biss. He has been a guest rehearsal conductor for numerous young orchestras, such as the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, The Symphony Orchestra of the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University, and the Vienna University of Technology orchestra. He has served on faculty of the Pierre Monteux School as Conducting Associate, has been resident conductor of the Atlantic Music Festival and guest conductor at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.
Dr. Rahbee was an assistant at the Vienna State opera from 2002-2010. As part of his fellowship and residency at the 2003 Salzburg Festival, Dr. Rahbee was assistant conductor of the International Attergau Institute Orchestra, where he worked with members of the Vienna Philharmonic. He has been selected to actively participate in masterclasses with prominent conductors such as Kurt Masur, Sir Colin Davis, Jorma Panula, Zdeněk Mácal, Peter Eötvös, Zoltán Peskó and Helmut Rilling, and counts Nikolaus Harnoncourt to be among his most influential mentors. From 1997-2001, David Rahbee was founder and conductor of the Fidelio Chamber Orchestra in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dr. Rahbeeʼs principal conducting teachers were Charles Bruck and Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin and composition from Indiana University, a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory in orchestral conducting, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Montreal in orchestral conducting. He has also participated in post-graduate conducting classes at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna. His brass arrangements are published by Warwick Music, and his articles on the music of Mahler have appeared in journals of the International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, among others.
In addition to being awarded first prize in conducting from The American Prize for 2020, he was awarded 2nd place in 2019. He has also placed among winners for five consecutive years for The American Prize Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award for Orchestral Programming, recognizing his programming with the UW Symphony and its affiliated ensembles for every season since he joined the faculty. The UWSO has also been a finalist in the category of orchestral performance in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Dr. Rahbee is co-editor of Daniels’ Orchestral Music (6thedition) and Daniels’ Orchestral Music Online (DOMO), the gold standard among conductors, orchestral administrators, orchestra librarians as well as other music professionals and students researching for orchestral programming.