An Evening with Jeanne Golan and Viktor Ullmann

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Monday, March 21, 2011 - 7:30pm
Location: 
Bernstein-Tregub Home

In appreciation of their loyal and generous support of the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles, a select group of its members has been invited to a special evening of music on Monday evening, March 21, 2011 at the home of members Sylvia Bernstein-Tregub and Burton Tregub. The guest artist is pianist Jeanne Golan, presenting a program of sonatas by the great Viktor Ullmann (1898 – 1944). We are extremely fortunate that Ms. Golan is in the Southland for other performances and lectures at this time so that she can offer this exciting recital to our group. Pianist Jeanne Golan has performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe.   She continues to offer fresh perspectives on combining standard and contemporary works in innovative ways.  Her insightful programming has been noted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which also describes her "gift and ability to clarify the core of music" and "her trademark lyricism and admirable sense of pace."  The New York Times has found her playing to be "technically polished and superbly expressive." Ms. Golan earned her Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University graduating with Distinction in Music. She is a Professor of Music at SUNY/Nassau, where she has received the Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award and the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Artistry and Scholarship on multiple occasions.  Actively involved in the fostering of works by new composers and discovering relatively unknown musical treasures, Ms. Golan has an impressive assortment of pieces written for her and that she has premiered. Currently, Ms. Golan is using her sabbatical year to absorb the complete Piano Sonatas of Viktor Ullmann into her repertoire. Last season, Ms. Golan released two recordings, Innocence Lost and American Handstands, eliciting the following commentary from Fanfare, “Golan, aside from being a formidable pianist, is one with a deep intellectual and aesthetic curiosity. She is an imaginative and tasteful curator of the programs she presents.” Jeanne Golan can be found on the web at www.jeannegolan.com. Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) was a leading composer of his generation. An active member of the Romantic Avant-garde as a composer and conductor who had an important presence throughout Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, he studied with and moved in circles with such 20th century giants as Arnold Schoenberg and Richard Strauss. In 1942, he and his family were taken to the “model” camp of Theresienstadt, or Terezin, which was used to deceive the Allied Forces into thinking that those captive were being treated well. Soon after, his wife died.  Two years later, he was deported to Auschwitz -Birkenau, where he and his son died.  Stirred by Goethe’s maxim,“Live within the moment, live in eternity,” Ullmann wrote seven piano sonatas that span his compositional life, the last three while interned at Terezin right up until the month before he and his children were taken to Auschwitz. The Sonatas are intensely autobiographical in nature: accessible musically and drawing from a collage of styles, they speak both to the horror and compassion of humanity and ultimately of Ullmann’s inexorable exuberance for life. Ms. Golan plans to perform a program of Ullmann’s Piano Sonatas that draw from his work prior to and while interned at Terezin.  The performance will include discussion of the music and its context.

An enthusiastic and totally engaged audience were privileged to hear three of Viktor Ullmann's piano sonatas. Played by Jeanne Golan in a powerful and expressive program, these pieces, together with Ms. Golan's comments, unveiled new insights into the life and music of this remarkable person and composer. After the recital, Robert Elias, executive Director of the Orel Foundation, spoke about its work in bringing to light the compositions of composers whose work was suppressed by the Nazis and many of whose lives were snuffed out in those dark days. The Foundation has supported Ms. Golan's appearances in the Southland. To end the program, Dr. Nick Strimple, prominent advocate of music of the Holocaust and USC professor of music, spoke aboiut the spectrum of music that was written then and is continually being discovered. He told the attendees about the upcoming free concert at Sinai Temple on April 7th, sponsored by the Schoenberg Family and featuring music of Schoenberg and Zeisl, two prominent composers whose lives were deeply influenced by the Holocaust. A beautiful dessert table was offered by the hosts to complete a wonderful evening.

Program: 

Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) Program of Piano Sonatas Sonata No. 2, Opus 19 (1937) I. Allegro energico e agitato II. Moderato: Theme & Variations on Janacek arrangement of a Moravian Folk Tune III. Prestissimo Sonata No. 6, Opus 49 (1943) I. Allegro con brio – Andante poco adagio II. Allegretto grazioso III. Presto, ma non troppo IV. Tempo I (Allegro molto) Sonata No. 4, Opus 38 (1941) I. Allegro vivace II. Adagio III. Finale: Vivace molto - Presto Jeanne Golan, pianist