Aspen program for August 20
Here is part of the press release sent out by Shuman Associates this morning with a fascinating story of the work's origin:
March 12, 2009…Misha Dichter and Cipa Dichter, who have become known for bringing many previously neglected works of the two-piano and piano four-hand repertoire to the concert stage, will perform the world premiere of an unpublished work by Felix Mendelssohn at the Ravinia Festival on Saturday, June 20, followed by a performance of the work on Thursday, August 20 at the Aspen Music Festival. The “Seven Songs Without Words, Op. 62 and Op. 67” for piano four-hands are among more than 270 unpublished works recovered by The Mendelssohn Project.(Thanks, Angela!)
Mendelssohn began writing his “Six Songs without Words” for solo piano, Op. 62, in 1841 and completed them in early 1844. Soon after at a dinner in London with British novelists Charles Dickens and William Thackeray, the idea was discussed of arranging the Op. 62 songs for piano four-hands and dedicating them to Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, both pianists. His work was nearly finished when he learned that the Queen’s favorite song was Meditation from the “Six Songs Without Words,” Op. 67. Mendelssohn quickly arranged the work, and on June 9, 1844, presented the “Seven Songs Without Words, Op. 62 and 67” for piano four-hands to Prince Albert with the following dedication (translated from the German).
Your Dignified Royal Highness,
I have taken the liberty to arrange the fifth book of my Songs Without Words for four-hands for You. And now I dare to lay it down at the feet of Her Majesty the Queen and Your Royal Highness; I have used hints of Czerny’s facile arrangement style etc. as well as I could, and have even exceeded my predecessor at least with respect to one point, I have enclosed a still unpublished seventh Song for four-hands. May the composer be credited for what the copyist may have lacked here and there – and vice versa! May Your Royal Highness sometimes play parts of it and consider it as evidence of my heartfelt gratitude for the gracious accommodation and the unforgettable hours that You let me share during my stay last week.
Always, Your Royal Highness, most sincerely
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
In addition to their world premiere performance of Mendelssohn’s “Seven Songs Without Words” at Ravinia, the Dichters will play Dvorak’s 5 Legends and Liszt’s Concerto Pathetique for two pianos. The Ravinia program will also include Schubert’s Sonata Op. 143 and Beethoven’s Six Bagatelles, Op. 126 by Mr. Dichter.