Concerto "Shir Ha Ma'alot"

Samuel Adler

Duration: 00:18:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The Concerto for Woodwind Quintet and Orchestra, subtitled ?Shir Hama?alot? (A Song of Ascent) was composed in early 1991 on a commission from the Musikalische Akademie des Nationaltheater Orchestra, Mannheim, for the Ma?alot Quintett , premiered by the orchestra and quintet in June of 1992.

When one is asked to write a work for the city of one?s birth, the circumstance is filled with mixed feelings. I was ten years of age when we emigrated from Mannheim to the United States. This particular occasion then called forth feelings that I had not felt for many years. Nostalgia dominated but coincided with darker memories that entered my mind as I set out to write the work.

Those were dark and difficult days for my family in Germany, but even though the struggle for dignity and survival was foremost in our minds, it unified our family and made it even closer than I believe it would have been. My father was the last Oberkantor (Chief Cantor) of the central Synagogue in Mannheim and though he was a very liberal man, he felt that in troubled times, religious observances eased the pain of daily life and made it bearable. He, therefore, insisted that the traditional home observances would be emphasized and through these, my parents, sister, and I became the closest knit family possible. The central most beautiful of these celebrations was the Sabbath evening meal on Friday nights when after a festive meal, grace was said beginning with the great Psalm of Ascent in Hebrew, ?Shir Hama?alot.? What a fantastic coincidence that when the Mannheim Orchestra asked me to write a work, it would be for a quintet with the name of Ma?alot. If this whole incident sounds a bit supernatural and quite romantic, I feel it gave me a great feeling of exuberance and this is what this work is about; dark times, yes ? but the spirit of humankind prevails. Naturally, we must remember those times so that they will never return. Yet, we also must speak of the many good people such as our neighbors who saved us on Kristallnacht and the triumph of good over evil which permits us now to make music together as builders in the creation of a better world.

The concerto itself is in three movements and scored for solo woodwind quintet, brass, percussion, and strings. The first movement is marked ?fast and very energetic.? To me, music has always meant the communication by the composer of the ?energy of life? which he feels in his own day and wants to share with an audience. I believe we are living in very exciting and stimulating times, full of dynamic energy. It is this realization which I?m trying to present in this movement. There is an unrelieved forward drive, rhythmic and vital, sometimes accompanied by lyric themes. There is never a true rest or repose to signify the often breathlessness of modern life.

The second movement begins in complete contrast. It is a quiet exposition of a love song-like melody, however, here too my exuberance and excitement about this piece got the better of me and there is a sudden explosion into a completely different mood. The tune has a bit of a ?proven

Additional Information

Orchestration Solo Woodwind Quintet; 0 0 0 0 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
Premiere First performed by the Maalot Quintet, June 1, 1992, Mannheim, Germany

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