Author Topic: Stanley Wolfe's Classroom  (Read 659 times)

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snyprrr

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Stanley Wolfe's Classroom
« on: September 22, 2015, 05:37:17 PM »
I just found a cache of videos on YT, with Symphonies, and a fun 'Lincoln Square Overture'. I only knew him from a wonderfully overripe 'Canticle for Strings', in a dry, academic, US 1950s Romantic Expressionistic Serial Style (on CRI). Dundonnel and vandermolem, amongst others, should enjoy Wolfe anachronism. Please check out those YT vids.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2015, 06:54:42 PM by snyprrr »

Offline Scion7

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Re: Stanley Wolfe - no Grove listing ...
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2015, 10:26:55 PM »
Thanks for bringing up this composer - I'd never heard of him.  His recordings at this point are pretty slim. 
I was able to dig up a few notices on him.  Some excerpts:

Stanley Wolfe was an outstanding composer and music educator. He was primarily a symphonist in the grand tradition of such 20th-century American masters as William Schuman, Peter Mennin, Walter Piston, David Diamond, and Howard Hanson, to name a few. Even though Stanley composed in several genres, the core of his output is, without a doubt, his six symphonies, written over a span of some 30 years.



THIS is a story that should help artists of all kinds get up in the morning. It concerns a Hastings-on-Hudson resident named Stanley Wolfe, who since 1963 has been the director of the extension division of the famed Juilliard School in Manhattan. Mr. Wolfe teaches courses on composition, music theory and contemporary music, and has himself been a composer for more than 30 years.
All six of Mr. Wolfe's symphonies have been performed, one of them as many as 15 times. Yet it has been a low-profile compositional career - the major American orchestras have not played the work of this highly respected teacher, whose students have included Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Marvin Hamlisch.
Thursday night - two days after Mr. Wolfe's 65th birthday - that picture will change, more dramatically perhaps than the composer could have ever dreamed. Leonard Slatkin, the esteemed music director and conductor of the St. Louis Symphony, will conduct the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in the world premiere performance of Mr. Wolfe's Violin Concerto, which he completed in the summer of 1987.
Mark Peskanov, the 31-year-old Russian-born virtuoso, will make his Philharmonic debut playing the concerto, which the orchestra will also perform on Feb. 10, 11 and 14.
That is not all. Next month, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Mr. Slatkin conducting and Mr. Peskanov again as soloist, will give four performances of the work in Chicago. This is akin to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago running back-to-back shows of work by a relatively unknown painter.
The pivotal person in this musical coup is Mr. Peskanov, whose suggestion it was in the first place that Mr. Wolfe write a violin concerto. The violinist - described by Mr. Wolfe as ''the most talented person we've had at Juilliard since Itzhak Perlman'' - began his professional collaboration with the composer after taking a course with Mr. Wolfe on 20th-century American music and hearing two of his symphonies. A Desire for Something New
When the completion of the concerto coincided with Mr. Peskanov's coming Philharmonic appearance - which had been scheduled for two years - the violinist sent a tape to Mr. Slatkin and suggested that the Wolfe work be substituted for the piece that had been planned. The conductor agreed.
''I thought that for a debut it might be more interesting and effective to come in with something new,'' said Mr. Slatkin, who, speaking from St. Louis, referred to Mr. Wolfe as a''major figure in the music world'' and recalled him from his own Juilliard days in the 1960's as ''one of a small coterie of younger composers.''
The conductor described the work as ''very solid,'' calling it ''a conservative, traditional violin concerto'' that would establish ''an immediate communication with the audience.''
In discussions, the word ''audience'' draws strong feelings from the composer. Seated at an upright piano in his small Juilliard office during a practice session with Mr. Peskanov, Mr. Wolfe wrestled with the agonies and ecstasies of anticipation. Audiences were going to ''love'' his piece, he predicted, while critics were going ''to hate it!''
Critics would accuse him of jumping on ''the melodic bandwagon,'' now that harmonically recognizable music was back in vogue in some music circles, the composer speculated, adding immediately that he ''didn't care,'' that he had been writing in the same way for 30 years and that he didn't write for the critics but for himself, ''out of my heart and soul.'' A Musical 'Late Starter'
As a ''late starter'' in music, never writing or reading a note before the age of 17, when a Caruso record deeply affected him, the New York City-born composer can identify with the plight of a listener facing something new. ''I wasn't born with a silver piano in my mouth,'' he said.
His ''empathy'' toward the musically unknowledgeable has served Juilliard well, because his courses for laymen and others not pursuing a degree have proved a great success - swelling the enrollment in the extension division to more than 600 students from the 13 students when he took charge.
A touch of irony runs through the career of this American composer, who claims that until now he has received a cool reception from other American composers - ''veiled hostility,'' is the way he puts it. Education at Juilliard
Mr. Wolfe began his Juilliard education after serving in the Army during World War II, one of three composition students accepted out of more than 100 applicants.
''That's when my problems began,'' the composer lamented, saying that ''my teachers didn't understand my intensity, and after the first year I got a letter suggesting that perhaps I shouldn't be in music. I got into fights. I was 'the angry young man at Juilliard.' ''
Eventually it became clear that, in his words, the young man was ''rebelling but also producing.'' He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in composition from the school, became a teaching fellow there and has been on the Juilliard faculty ever since. The Juilliard Orchestra has performed two of Mr. Wolfe's symphonies; however, the composer said, ''I've had only four performances of my work at Juilliard in 33 years.''
In program notes written about the violin concerto, Mr. Wolfe described his style of writing: ''On one hand there is an uninhibited flow of melody that would seem to place it in one compositional area; but, on the other hand, there seems to be, as always in my music, a yearning or a cry that results in a bittersweet sound, an angst, if you will, that colors the melodic outbursts.'' Work Inspires Enthusiasm
Mr. Peskanov, who said working with Mr. Wolfe had been like being ''with a chef in the kitchen,'' described the concerto as ''alive - the more we play it the more we bring it alive.'' He added that ''this piece gives me a great freedom of expression since no one has ever played it before.''
Mr. Wolfe and his wife, Marguerite, a violinist who plays with the Yonkers Civic Philharmonic and previously played with the Westchester Symphony Orchestra, have lived in Hastings-on-Hudson since 1971. They have two grown children.
The composer said he hoped to go on writing music and experimenting with new forms, now that he had learned to ''bend his style' as a symphonist to compose a concerto. He vowed to continue to ignore ''fashion'' in music and to write what was meaningful to him, ''as I've always stressed to my students.'' And if that meant writing ''emotional'' music that critics might not like, then so be it, he added.
''You only live once,'' Mr. Wolfe said. ''You've got to write something that has passion.''
« Last Edit: September 22, 2015, 10:31:20 PM by Scion7 »
Your barricades lie broken ... your enemies lord.

snyprrr

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Re: Stanley Wolfe - no Grove listing ...
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2015, 06:53:10 PM »
Thanks for bringing up this composer - I'd never heard of him.  His recordings at this point are pretty slim. 
I was able to dig up a few notices on him.  Some excerpts:

Stanley Wolfe was an outstanding composer and music educator. He was primarily a symphonist in the grand tradition of such 20th-century American masters as William Schuman, Peter Mennin, Walter Piston, David Diamond, and Howard Hanson, to name a few. Even though Stanley composed in several genres, the core of his output is, without a doubt, his six symphonies, written over a span of some 30 years.



THIS is a story that should help artists of all kinds get up in the morning. It concerns a Hastings-on-Hudson resident named Stanley Wolfe, who since 1963 has been the director of the extension division of the famed Juilliard School in Manhattan. Mr. Wolfe teaches courses on composition, music theory and contemporary music, and has himself been a composer for more than 30 years.
All six of Mr. Wolfe's symphonies have been performed, one of them as many as 15 times. Yet it has been a low-profile compositional career - the major American orchestras have not played the work of this highly respected teacher, whose students have included Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Marvin Hamlisch.
Thursday night - two days after Mr. Wolfe's 65th birthday - that picture will change, more dramatically perhaps than the composer could have ever dreamed. Leonard Slatkin, the esteemed music director and conductor of the St. Louis Symphony, will conduct the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in the world premiere performance of Mr. Wolfe's Violin Concerto, which he completed in the summer of 1987.
Mark Peskanov, the 31-year-old Russian-born virtuoso, will make his Philharmonic debut playing the concerto, which the orchestra will also perform on Feb. 10, 11 and 14.
That is not all. Next month, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Mr. Slatkin conducting and Mr. Peskanov again as soloist, will give four performances of the work in Chicago. This is akin to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago running back-to-back shows of work by a relatively unknown painter.
The pivotal person in this musical coup is Mr. Peskanov, whose suggestion it was in the first place that Mr. Wolfe write a violin concerto. The violinist - described by Mr. Wolfe as ''the most talented person we've had at Juilliard since Itzhak Perlman'' - began his professional collaboration with the composer after taking a course with Mr. Wolfe on 20th-century American music and hearing two of his symphonies. A Desire for Something New
When the completion of the concerto coincided with Mr. Peskanov's coming Philharmonic appearance - which had been scheduled for two years - the violinist sent a tape to Mr. Slatkin and suggested that the Wolfe work be substituted for the piece that had been planned. The conductor agreed.
''I thought that for a debut it might be more interesting and effective to come in with something new,'' said Mr. Slatkin, who, speaking from St. Louis, referred to Mr. Wolfe as a''major figure in the music world'' and recalled him from his own Juilliard days in the 1960's as ''one of a small coterie of younger composers.''
The conductor described the work as ''very solid,'' calling it ''a conservative, traditional violin concerto'' that would establish ''an immediate communication with the audience.''
In discussions, the word ''audience'' draws strong feelings from the composer. Seated at an upright piano in his small Juilliard office during a practice session with Mr. Peskanov, Mr. Wolfe wrestled with the agonies and ecstasies of anticipation. Audiences were going to ''love'' his piece, he predicted, while critics were going ''to hate it!''
Critics would accuse him of jumping on ''the melodic bandwagon,'' now that harmonically recognizable music was back in vogue in some music circles, the composer speculated, adding immediately that he ''didn't care,'' that he had been writing in the same way for 30 years and that he didn't write for the critics but for himself, ''out of my heart and soul.'' A Musical 'Late Starter'
As a ''late starter'' in music, never writing or reading a note before the age of 17, when a Caruso record deeply affected him, the New York City-born composer can identify with the plight of a listener facing something new. ''I wasn't born with a silver piano in my mouth,'' he said.
His ''empathy'' toward the musically unknowledgeable has served Juilliard well, because his courses for laymen and others not pursuing a degree have proved a great success - swelling the enrollment in the extension division to more than 600 students from the 13 students when he took charge.
A touch of irony runs through the career of this American composer, who claims that until now he has received a cool reception from other American composers - ''veiled hostility,'' is the way he puts it. Education at Juilliard
Mr. Wolfe began his Juilliard education after serving in the Army during World War II, one of three composition students accepted out of more than 100 applicants.
''That's when my problems began,'' the composer lamented, saying that ''my teachers didn't understand my intensity, and after the first year I got a letter suggesting that perhaps I shouldn't be in music. I got into fights. I was 'the angry young man at Juilliard.' ''
Eventually it became clear that, in his words, the young man was ''rebelling but also producing.'' He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in composition from the school, became a teaching fellow there and has been on the Juilliard faculty ever since. The Juilliard Orchestra has performed two of Mr. Wolfe's symphonies; however, the composer said, ''I've had only four performances of my work at Juilliard in 33 years.''
In program notes written about the violin concerto, Mr. Wolfe described his style of writing: ''On one hand there is an uninhibited flow of melody that would seem to place it in one compositional area; but, on the other hand, there seems to be, as always in my music, a yearning or a cry that results in a bittersweet sound, an angst, if you will, that colors the melodic outbursts.'' Work Inspires Enthusiasm
Mr. Peskanov, who said working with Mr. Wolfe had been like being ''with a chef in the kitchen,'' described the concerto as ''alive - the more we play it the more we bring it alive.'' He added that ''this piece gives me a great freedom of expression since no one has ever played it before.''
Mr. Wolfe and his wife, Marguerite, a violinist who plays with the Yonkers Civic Philharmonic and previously played with the Westchester Symphony Orchestra, have lived in Hastings-on-Hudson since 1971. They have two grown children.
The composer said he hoped to go on writing music and experimenting with new forms, now that he had learned to ''bend his style' as a symphonist to compose a concerto. He vowed to continue to ignore ''fashion'' in music and to write what was meaningful to him, ''as I've always stressed to my students.'' And if that meant writing ''emotional'' music that critics might not like, then so be it, he added.
''You only live once,'' Mr. Wolfe said. ''You've got to write something that has passion.''

That was great Scion7!

Yea, he has that classic '50s style, which may seem a bit cheesy now, but, really, has integrity and does sound somewhat like Sessions-meets-Harris, but which I remember mostly from melodramas on TV- perhaps Wolfe was influential on TV Composers?

Again, that was a Superb Post! ;)