Sun October 2 | 6:00 PM

Eugene Symphony on the Air: Episode 3

This episode focuses on two premieres we presented last season, as well as Elgar's humanistic Enigma Variations.


October 2, 2022 6:00 PM

Eugene Symphony on the Air: Episode 3

Daniel Cho, Host

Matt Browne — Symphony No. 1, "The Course of the Empire," excerpts

David Schiff — PREFONTAINE, excerpts

Elgar — Enigma Variations

This episode focuses on two premieres we presented last season, First Symphony Project Composer Matt Browne’s “The Course of Empire” from our May 26 concert and Portland-based composer David Schiff’s “PREFONTAINE”, which saw its world premiere at our June 4 concert.

We’ll also listen to Elgar’s humanistic Enigma Variations, first presented at our May 19 concert.

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Elgar's Enigma Variations

  • Theme and Variation I (C.A.E.): Caroline Alice Elgar, Elgar’s wife. Of it, Elgar wrote, “The variation is really a prolongation of the theme with what I wished to be romantic and delicate additions; those who knew C.A.E. will understand this reference to one whose life was a romantic and delicate inspiration.”
  • Variation III (R.B.T.) - Richard Baxter Townshend, an author, whose low voice would suddenly become very high when he became excited, recreated in the orchestra. Townshend would also ride a bike with the bell constantly ringing, represented in the plucking strings and woodwinds.
  • Variation IV (W.M.B.) - William Meath Baker, a country squire who was a little rough around the edges. He had a habit of slamming doors when leaving rooms, an amusing detail Elgar added into the music.
  • Variation V (R.P.A.) - Richard P. Arnold, a poet and a philosopher. Elgar mentioned that, “his serious conversation was continually broken up by whimsical and witty remarks.” Conveying this, the variation begins with an impassioned theme in the strings, that is interrupted by sprightly music in the woodwinds.
  • Variation VI (Ysobel) - Isabel Fitton, a former viola student of Elgar’s, who ended her lessons with the composer stating, “I value our friendship much too much.” The variation prominently features the violas.
  • Variation VII (Troyte) - Arthur Troyte Griffith, a former piano student of Elgar’s, who’s heavy-handed slamming of the piano keys caused Elgar much frustration.
  • Variation VIII - Winifred Norbert, who often invited Elgar and his friends to her cottage, whose charming atmosphere is depicted in this variation.
  • Variation IX (Nimrod) - August Jaeger, one of Elgar’s closest friends. “Jaeger” is German for “hunter” and Nimrod is a “mighty hunter” mentioned in the Old Testament. This is the most famous variation of the fourteen, with Elgar’s love and gratitude for his friend on full display.
  • Variation X (Dorabella) - Dora Penny, a young friend of the Elgars who had a slight stutter depicted in this variation.
  • Variation XI (G.R.S.) - Dr. G.R. Sinclair, an organist who had a large and chaotic bulldog that Elgar presents in orchestral form in this variation.
  • Variation XIV (E.D.U) - Edu, Alice Elgar’s nickname for Edward. The final variation represents Edward Elgar himself, with themes from Variation I (Alice’s variation) and Variation IX (August Jaeger’s variation) to represent the two closest people in his life.

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Our 2022/23 Season centers around our collective drive to create a shared human narrative. Join us at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, City of Eugene for this exciting season featuring works by traditional and contemporary composers inspired by legend, literature, and life’s stories.