KW Repertoire Report 2007-9

We thought it would be interesting to combine the repertoire reports from 2007-9 to see if there are any interesting trends which emerge. Each year tends to have its own quirks, but over 3, one should be able to get a pretty balanced sense of what my interests are. Still, there are some glaring aberrations here- I love Bartok more than most composers, yet I’ve not done a piece of his in the last 3 years. How awful!

You can see a side by side listing of the 3 years here. By a bizarre coincidence, I ended up performing almost exactly the same number of works in each of the last 3 years- 75, 75 and 76. Out of a possible 225  works, we ended up with 206 distinct titles, which means there is remarkably little overlap from season to season. Most of the overlapping pieces are things like Beethoven and the late Mozart symphonies. The one piece that stands out as being something I’ve done in all 3 years is Elgar 1- not an obvious choice, but a wonderful one!

There are 17 works of Beethoven- all but one (the 9th) of the Symphonies, and the relative rarities of the Serioso Quartet and Leonore 2, 12 works of Haydn and 20 by Mozart, which is a bit of a surprise for someone who considers Haydn the great composer. Arnold shows up 4 times in spite of the fact that I’m not a huge, huge fan of his music, and Khatchaturian twice- I’d gladly trade all of those for some Bartok.

1-       Arnold- Guitar Concerto

2-       Arnold- Scottish Dances

3-       Arnold- Piano Trio #  *

4-       Arnold- Serenade for Guitar and Strings

5-       Barber- Adagio for Strings

6-       Beethoven- Egmont Overture

7-       Beethoven- Leonore Overture No. 2

8-       Beethoven- Coriolan Overture

9-       Beethoven- Leonore Overture no. 3

10-   Beethoven arr. Mahler- String Quartet in F Minor Op. 95 “Serioso”

11-   Beethoven- String Quartet in F major, op 18 no. 1 *.

12-   Beethoven- Piano Trio in D Major, op. 70 no. 1 “Ghost”  *

13-   Beethoven- Piano Concerto no. 4

14-   Beethoven- String Trio in C minor, op 9 no 3.

15-   Beethoven- String Trio in G major, op 9 no. 1 VC

16-   Beethoven- Symphony no. 1 (2)

17-   Beethoven- Symphony no. 2 in D major

18-   Beethoven- Symphony no. 4

19-   Beethoven- Symphony No. 5 in C minor

20-   Beethoven- Symphony no. 6 in F Major “Pastoral”

21-   Beethoven Symphony no. 7

22-   Beethoven- Symphony no. 8 in F major

23-   Bloch- Concerto Grosso no 2.

24-   Bloch- Schelomo: Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra

25-   Bloch- Suite for Cello and Orchestra

26-   Brahms- Clarinet Quintet *

27-   Brahms- Academic Festival Overture

28-   Brahms- Piano Concerto no. 1 in D minor

29-   Brahms- Double Concerto in A Minor for Violin and Cello *

30-   Brahms- Serenade in D Major, op 11

31-   Brahms- Symphony No. 1 in C minor

32-   Brahms- Symphony no. 2 in D major

33-   Britten- Simple Symphony

34-   Brown– Novara (Welsh Premiere)

35-   Bruckner- Symphony no. 4 in E Flat Major “Romantic”

36-   Chambers, Evan- String Quartet “Three Memories”

37-   Chambers- The Tall-Eared Fox and the Wild-Eyed Man (UK Premiere)

38-   Chopin-  Piano Concerto no. 1 in E minor

39-   Copland- Appalachian Spring (13 Instrument Version) m #

40-   Copland- Suite from “Rodeo”

41-   Copland- Quiet City

42-   Debussy- Cello Sonata VC

43-   Debussy- Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

44-   Debussy- Nuages and Fetes from Three Nocturnes

45-   Dohnanyi- Serenade for String Trio VC

46-   Downie– forms 7 (World Premiere Commission)

47-   Dvorak- Romance for Violin

48-   Dvorak- Husitska Overture

49-   Dvorak- Serenade for Winds

50-   Dvorak Slavonic Dances op 46 and 72

51-   Dvorak- Symphony no. 9 “From the New World”

52-   Elgar- Cello Concerto in E Minor VC

53-   Elgar- Cockaigne Overture

54-   Elgar- Serendade for Strings

55-   Elgar- Symphony no. 1 in A flat Major

56-   Elgar- Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma), Op. 36

57-    Elgar- Violin Concerto

58-   Espinosa- Movement for Strings (World Premiere)

59-   Fauré- Suite from “Pelleas and Melisande”

60-   Gal- Concertino for Violin and Strings

61-   Gal- Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orchestra

62-   Gal- Triptych

63-   Gershwin- An American in Paris

64-   Ginasterra- Harp Concerto

65-   Glinka- Kamarinskaya

66-   Glinka Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla

67-   Gregson- Trombone Concerto

68-   Grieg- Piano Concerto in A Minor

69-   Handel- Messiah (complete)

70-   Haydn- Cello Concerto no. 1 in C major

71-   Haydn- Cello Concerto no. 2 in D major

72-   Haydn- Sinfonia Concertante for Oboe, Bassoon, Violin and Cello

73-   Haydn- Symphony no. 45 “Farewell”

74-   Haydn- Symphony no. 59 in A Major, “Fire Symphony”

75-   Haydn- Symphony no. 60 “Il Distratto”

76-   Haydn- Symphony no. 72

77-   Haydn- Symphony no. 86 in D Major

78-   Haydn- Symphony no. 92 “Oxford

79-   Haydn- Symphony no. 94 “Surprise”.

80-   Haydn- Symphony no. 101 “The Clock

81-   Haydn- Symphony no. 104

82-   Higdon- Soprano Saxophone Concerto

83-   Hovaness- String Trio

84-   Ives- Symphony no. 3

85-   Janacek- Quartet no 2 “Intimate Letters” *

86-   Janacek- Pohadka for Cello and Piano VC

87-   Khatchaturian- Violin Concerto

88-   Khatchaturian- Sabre Dance

89-   Klein- String Trio

90-   Kodaly- Summer Evening

91-   Kodaly- Dances of Galanta

92-   Kodaly- Intermezzo for String Trio

93-   Krasa- “Tanec” for String Trio

94-   Linkola- Two Miniatures for Piano Trio # *

95-   Mahler- Ruckert Lieder

96-    Mahler- Symphony No. 1 in D Major

97-   Mahler- Symphony no. 3 in D minor

98-   Mahler- Symphony no. 4 in G major

99-   Mahler- Symphony no. 5

100-                        Mahler/ arr. Schoenberg- Das Lied von der Erde (Chamber orchestra version)

101-                        Mefano- Interferences (Mendelssohn-

102-                        Piano Trio in D minor UK Premiere)

103-                        Mendelssohn- Songs Without Words

104-                        Mendelssohn- Hebrides Overture

105-                        Mendelssohn- Violin Concerto in E minor

106-                        Messiaen- Louange a l’eternite de Jesus from“Quartet from the End of Time” *

107-                        Mozart/Bach- Adagio and Fugue in D minor for String Trio

108-                        Mozart- Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

109-                        Mozart- Clarinet Quintet

110-                        Mozart- Gran Partita for Winds

111-                        Mozart/Wendt- Harmonie from Figaro

112-                        Mozart- Overture to La Clemenza di Tito (2)

113-                        Mozart- Impresario Overture

114-                        Mozart- Overture to “Die Zauberflote” #

115-                        Mozart- Overture to Marriage of Figaro

116-                        Mozart- Piano Quartet in E-flatr Major #  *

117-                        Mozart- Requiem

118-                        Mozart- Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major

119-                        Mozart- Piano Concerto in A major K 488

120-                        Mozart- Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola (2)

121-                        Mozart- Symphony no. 13

122-                        Mozart- Symphony no. 31 “Paris” (2)

123-                        Mozart- Symphony no. 34 in C major

124-                        Mozart- Symphony no. 39 in E-flat

125-                        Mozart Symphony no. 40 in G minor

126-                        Mozart- Symphony no. 41 in C Major

127-                        Mussorgsky- A Night on Bald Mountain

128-                        Mussorgsky (arr. Ravel)- Pictures at an Exhibition

129-                        Nielsen- Helios Overture

130-                        Piston- Sinfonietta

131-                        Prokofiev- Concerto No. 5 for Piano and Orchestra .   .

132-                        Prokofiev- Violin Concerto no. 2 in G minor

133-                        Prokofiev- Sonata for Cello and Piano in C Major VC

134-                        Prokofiev- Violin Concerto no2 in G minor

135-                        Prokofiev- Sonata for Cello and Piano in C Major VC

136-                        Prokofiev- Lt Kije Suite

137-                        Poulenc- Sinfonietta

138-                        Puccini- Madama Butterfly +.

139-                        Rachmaninoff- Sonata for Cello and Piano

140-                        Rachmaninoff- Symphony no. 1 in D minor

141-                        Ravel- Mother Goose Suite

142-                        Rossini- Cenerentola Overture

143-                        Rossini- Overture “Tancredi”

144-                         Rossini- Overture to Barber of Seville.

145-                        Saint-Saens- Cello Concerto in A minor

146-                        Saint-Saens- Cello Concerto no. 2 in D minor

147-                        Sawyers- Gale of Life (UK Premiere)

148-                        Philip Sawyers- Symphony no. 2

149-                        James Schlefer- Concerto for Shakuhachi and Chamber Orchestra

150-                        Schinittke- String Trio

151-                        Schubert- Quintet in C major for Two Violins, Viola and Two Cellos

152-                        Schubert- Overture in D Major in the Italian Style

153-                        Schubert- Trio Satz in B-flat

154-                        Schubert (arr Mahler/Woods)- Quartet in D minor “Death and the Maiden”

155-                        Schubert- Symphony no. 4 in C minor “Tragic”

156-                        Schumann- Genoveva Overture

157-                        Schumann- Piano Concerto in A minor

158-                        Schumann- Violin Concerto

159-                        Schumann- Cello Concerto in A minor

160-                        Schumann- Konzertsucke for Four Horns

161-                        Schumann- Overture, Scherzo and Finale

162-                        Schumann- Overture to “Bride of Messina”

163-                        Schumann- Symphony no. 2 in C (2)

164-                        Schumann- Symphony no. 3 in E-flat, “Rhenish”

165-                        Schumann- Symphony no. 4 in D minor

166-                        Shostakovich- Chamber Symphony op. 73a

167-                        Shostakovich- Chamber Symphony op 83a

168-                        Shostakovich- Festive Overture

169-                        Shostakovich- Concerto no. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Strings

170-                        Shostakovich- Piano Concerto no. 2

171-                        Shostakovich- Sonata for Cello and Piano

172-                        Sibelius- Valse Triste

173-                        Sibelius- Violin Concerto

174-                        Sibelius- Symphony no. 2 in D major

175-                        Sibelius- Symphony no. 5 in E Flat

176-                        Sousa- The Liberty Bell

177-                        Strauss- Death and Transfiguration

178-                        Strauss, R- Oboe Concerto

179-                        Strauss, R- Romanze for Cello and Orchestra

180-                        Strauss, R- Serenade for Winds, op 7

181-                        Strauss, R- Cello Sonata VC

182-                        Strauss- Concerto No. 1 for Horn

183-                        Strauss- Horn Concerto no. 2

184-                        Stravinsky- Octet for Winds +

185-                        Stravinsky- L’histoire du soldat

186-                        Stravinsky- Suite from “The Firebird” (1919 Version)

187-                        Tchaikovsky- Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture

188-                        Tchaikovsky- Andante Cantabile for Cello and Strings*

189-                        Tchaikovsky- Souvenir de Florence *

190-                        Tchaikovsky- Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra

191-                        Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35

192-                        Tchaikovsky- Quartet no. 3 in E flat minor

193-                        Tchaikovsky- Symphony no. 4 in F minor

194-                        Thomas- “Primordial Monkey Soup” for Cello Quartet and Solo Viola (World Premiere) *

195-                        Christopher Thomas- Snapshots (world premiere)

196-                        Vaughan Williams- Overture to “The Wasps”

197-                        Vaughan Williams- The Lark Ascending

198-                        Vaughan-Williams- Symphony no. 5

199-                        Varese- Octandre

200-                        Verdi- Aida

201-                        Verdi- Il Trovatore

202-                        Vivaldi- Four Seasons

203-                        Wagner- Rienzi Overture.

204-                        Wagner- Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde

205-                        Williams- Suite from Star Wars

206-                        Xenakis– Akrata (Welsh Premiere)

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

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13 comments on “KW Repertoire Report 2007-9”

  1. Marc P

    I looked at your report and I see only 9 works by a living composer. The LAO did a survey a couple of years ago and found 8% of the programming by their member orchestras were devoted to living composers. 9 works out of 206 equals 4.3%. But I’ll give you a few bonus points for programming “near living composers” – those who have departed recently

  2. Kenneth Woods

    Hi Marc-

    I share your concern- it is a point of great frustration for me. I can only conduct what I’m hired to do, and the climate the last couple of years has been ever more conservative as orchestras have been forced to cut their rental budgets back to the bone. Hopefully the next three years will be better.

  3. Monica B

    “That’s why I didn’t even start in with the less than half a % of pieces by women… I am very fortunate in my current position to be able to have a BIG say in the programming. In 2009 I managed 15% works by women, 17.5% by living composers and about 55% by composers who died in the 20th or 21st century.
    But when I’m invited somewhere I have the same problem. Do you think it’s that much to do with rental budgets, or are programmes more conservative because managers are afraid they won’t put bums on seats if they risk anything more adventurous?”

  4. Kenneth Woods

    Hi Monica!

    That’s a heck of a track record. In the short term, rental budgets have become an issue that comes up much more than usual as every orchestra seems to be counting every penny, but the bums on seats issue is always there. I think a lot of it has to do with the mission of the organization- my new band, Orchestra of the Swan, has made commissioning a key part of their mission statement, and they do more new work than almost any other British chamber orchestra. The ability to do that depends on having built the entire organization, including the board, around that mission.
    We all have our passions- I do a lot of Entartete Musik composers like Krasa, Klein, Gal et al, and I’ve made a big push with some off the beaten Romantic literature and have tried to do some Haydn’s other than 104 and the obvious hits, and all of those are hard work to program too.
    Thanks for the comment


  5. CB

    Wow a lot of Arnold, no Brahm’s #2 piano concerto? no Mahler’s 6th. Sibelius #4? Vaughan-Williams #3?

    Maybe this year!!

  6. CB

    “I have to chime my composer bell and say that given the constant “catch up” environment of playing the field to get less heard works on a program, I personally would rather see effort in those rare 19-20th century works than in new orchestral premieres. I’m more concerned in the loss of a historical period that I believe is terribly critical and terribly underplayed, than in new music by composers that have a lot of medium and avenues available for expression, and are here to champion it. You might disagree, but what with media and technology as an available tool to the “nowness” of a composers palette, I believe for a composer to ignore those tools is also to ignore his place and time.

    Sure, writing a new orchestral work is a dream of many a composer, including yours truly; however, it’s not the mainstay and final word on great art for a composer today. A composer these days has become his own art director and must find his own audience, and I’m afraid that most of the new orchestra music that is produced is out of touch both artistically in aesthetic ideals, as well as on more practical terms with entertainment value to an audience. The old joke that only composers and their composer friends go to new premieres has even become out of touch. Even composers would rather stay at home creating their own music in their studios, or working in multimedia with a chamber ensemble than attending new music concerts and pretending they are important or interesting. You might say – oh thats only you – but I know plenty of good composers who feel the same way and aren’t afraid to voice their frustrations so.

    There is also the practical side. These days, unless you have a top notch orchestra of virtuosos, you need to underwrite to make it playable and self balancing. There are certain limits of play time and rehearsal costs, deadlines, and various sundries that make it difficult to actually enjoy the writing experience.

    And then there is economics…Given that it would take roughly $60,000 – $120,000 US dollars to record a new work with a top notch orchestra, or a slightly lesser amount to play it in a live concert hall, I would rather take that cash and invest it in technology and a small group of bad ass players along the artistic creative freedom that comes with it.

    Sorry for the long winded and scattered thoughts here, but I needed to dump my feelings on this matter.

    To sum up – play the rare important old stuff I never get a chance to hear or put into historic perspective.

    A handshake.


  7. Marc P

    “@Bryan – $60K to $120K to record a new work. I don’t think so. Kirk Trevor has 70 Naxos recordings to his credit. The average cost is about $25,000 USD and he records with the Slovak Radio Symphony in Bratislava. My client Hong-Mei Xiao just finished a project for Naxos with the Budapest Philharmonic. The cost was $21,000. Copying costs are a third of what they were in the pre-Finale/Sibelius days. So I don’t know where you are getting $60-120k unless you are talking about the AA majors.

    And I disagree with the notion that orchestras and composers should part company. I live in San Francisco and the SF Symphony does probably more premieres than any orchestra on the West Coast. SF’ers really get into new music. I would rather hear a new John Adams or Corigliano or even Sofia Gubaidulina (who recently had several works premiered by SFSO) piece than anything Arnold Bax wrote.

    There is an orchestra in Phoenix, Musica Nova, that digs up the dead and has performed works by Raff, Arnell, and who knows what else. It really is second-rate music and despite their enthusiasm for unlocking undiscovered works, the orchestra (made up of very accomplished players) can’t even draw their numbers — meaning there are fewer people in the audience than on stage.

    You are right about contemporary composers pandering. But all artists pander in way or another. Orchestras like other biological life forms must either evolve or they will most certainly go extinct. I predict 10-15 years and the entire industry will be a “vanity industry”.”

  8. Lisa Hirsch

    Marc P. – Take another look at SFS’s repertory. They did not premiere “several” new works by Gubaidulina this past year. I think they had one of two anticipated. She was late with the other commission.

    I also would bet that LAPO under Salonen had more commissions and more first-west-coast performances than SFS under MTT. I mean, there was one year when SFS had eight performances of works by living composers and two or three were by MTT himself.

  9. CB

    “Yes I said with a top notch orchestra. I was referring to specifically to a major union brand – for reference lets say an LSO or RSO or LPO or NSO or BSO – not with an eastern euro film scoring naxos wrappers to get around union rates. And I don’t like paying non union. I feel unethical doing it. Don’t you?

    I also don’t think eastern orchestras sound very good, have the chops, and the recording technicians are spotty at best. They are very good for recording film music which must be written easily with the mind of getting it in one take. They do that really well, but it took them a while to understand how to do that. And btw you can sit in your own living room and have a session via video conference for a fee.

    Copying costs are still expensive even with Finale or Sibelius btw. You haven’t eliminated the copiest.

    Kirk Trevor? Hong-Mei Xiao? ummm who? The point? We are talking about staying in the society where it can be heard and appreciated. We are specifically talking about premiering music with a western orchestra *that have chops for crafty stuff* and having it recorded there. The costs of both are outrageous and that limits extremely what you can do (rehearsal time; technique; size; audience expectation etc).

    I also live in SF and I think we’ve heard enough JA and other mainstream mega managed labels such as the likes of Sofia and Corigliano, Quite frankly, my taste concludes their music is flawed, catered, uninteresting and out of touch – JA especially here. I’m sick of his cutsies titles, poor structure, and recurrent use of prologated orchestration trickery. I just don’t buy his dance anymore. For a while there Berkeley had a fairly decent orchestra, but now that Kent’s gone…

    Your Phoenix example is not really a fair one. Digging up some third rate composers and making a large program out of it is not what I was referring to. For example when have you ever heard Roussel or Honegger in a concert program – composers who had a tremendous affect on the Franco-American school not to mention a range of Eastern European and Russian artists. OK, sure…lets have a Thalberg or a Rubinstein piano concerto once in a while to liven things up.

    And contemporary ensembles are just as bad. How many concerts at ALEA III did I attend that had more people on stage than in the audience? And I was bored out of my skull (except for a erhu concerto that was fun and a viola + piano work by Shosh that was not so fun).

    No, not all artists pander. The true nature of an artist is to be curious, explore, and fail with pride endlessly. The composers and their entourages you site can’t afford to do any of that. And it’s gotten worse. Hence, my point that we don’t need orchestras to create great art anymore. They are now almost the antithesis of it. We can do quite nicely with a smaller stage and on our own. To paraphrase: “We don’t need you to write”.


    PS: And we don’t have to wait 10 years. It’s already a “vanity production”. Just listen to the crappy self indulgent art-speak in one of those pre-concert composer interviews and you get my drift. They always go one way or another – either internally to some analytic left brain diary, or the opposite and stay they were steering away from making a statement or just ramble on and on about their pets. We just don’t buy any of it or care. You just don’t have to say anything if you have a decent work that says it all to the world. Your “composer’s” job and your voice are done when you lift the pencil off the page for the last time and pour yourself a cup of tea. And that’s the way it should be. And nothing should interfere with it.

  10. Kenneth Woods

    Great discussion here! Hopefully CB and Marc can have lunch and discuss soon- they live within minutes of each other.

    Meanwhile, Lisa hints at two interesting questions- how an orchestra gets a reputation for edgy programs when they’re actually doing mainstream stuff, and also what is the meaning of the differences in the repertoire profiles of conductors and their orchestras. Marin is a different programmer completely at the BSO versus Cabrillo. Wouldn’t it be interesting to look at MTT’s rep at New World versus SFSO?

    As for relevance, I wonder if there is any composer alive today who can be said to have as engaged a relationship to how the larger society sees itself than Sibelius, Copland or Shostakovich to name 3. Certainly there is a passion to engaged audiences among most composers today, what about re-shaping society? What about critiquing and re-making the world we live in? Is there any art out there today that really makes a profound critique of today’s events that is going to have an impact on how the larger society perceives itself?

  11. Marc P

    “I might too conservative for Bryan. I am in favor of programming as much contemporary music as possible while at the same time rescuing lost treasures yet I am fervently opposed to the NEA and the AFM. They both have created a welfare state for artists. “

  12. CB

    “Wha? We were both going to fly out Cardiff where there is actually still some civilization left!”

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