Julia Hamos, piano 

July 28, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host

Program:

Clara Schumann – Romance No. 1 in E-flat minor, Op. 11 (8′)

Frédéric Chopin – Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major, Op. 47 (9′)

Maurice Ravel – Gaspard de la nuit, M. 55 (26′)

I. Ondine

II. Le Gibet

III. Scarbo

Pianist Julia Hamos performs internationally as a soloist and chamber musician, notably in Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. She has given recitals and chamber music performances at the Krzyzowa Festival, Trasimeno Music Festival in Italy, Open Chamber Music of the IMS Prussia Cove festival, Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival, Kneisel Hall Festival, the Ravinia Steans Institute, and the Verbier Festival Academy. Julia is the winner of the Sterndale Bennett Prize for romantic-era music at the Royal Academy of Music, the winner of the Mannes College of Music Fidelman Prize for contemporary music, as well as the first prize winner of the international Virtuoso Competition in New York City and the recipient of the first Jacob Barnes Award of the Royal Academy of Music for ideas to create collaboration with other art forms and connect with different communities. She performed in masterclasses at the invitation of Sir Andras Schiff at the Wigmore Hall in London, where her playing was noted by the U.K.’s The Independent as “warmly seductive,” in the Gstaad Menuhin Academy in Switzerland and at the Klavierfestival Ruhr in Germany in 2017.
Her chamber music collaborators include cellist Christoph Richter, violinists Stephen Waarts and Viviane Hagner, pianist Richard Goode, and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Berlin Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic. Upcoming chamber music engagements include a recital in the Konzerthaus Berlin with Johannes Przygodda, on Bartok Radio 3 in Budapest, and in the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin. With a penchant for collaborations with other arts, she has performed together with the Martha Graham Dance Company, the New English Ballet Theater and The New School’s Drama division, and has an affinity for experimental contemporary works that combine acting with playing. Julia has worked with artists including Andras Schiff, Daniel Barenboim, Angela Hewitt, Leon Fleisher, Thomas Ades, Peter Serkin, Ferenc Rados, Rita Wagner, Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Sergei Babayan and members of the Orion, Juilliard, and Takacs String Quartets. Julia began her studies at the age of 4 with Hungarian pianist Christina Kiss. She is a graduate of the Juilliard pre-college division, the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied with Christopher Elton, and the Mannes College of Music, where she earned a Masters Degree and subsequently a Professional Studies Diploma studying with Richard Goode. Julia was a piano faculty member at the 92nd Street Y School of Music in New York from 2017-19. She currently studies at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin under Sir András Schiff and will join his chamber music program in Kronberg Akademie in 2021. She also partakes in recorded masterclasses with Daniel Barenboim at the Pierre Boulez Saal, focusing on the Beethoven solo piano and piano and string Sonatas. She has been selected by Sir András Schiff to play a series of concerts in the Building Bridges series throughout Europe in the 2022-23 season.

For more information including upcoming performances, please visit www.juliahamos.com.

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

Romance No. 1 in E-flat minor, Op. 11 (1839) (8′) 

“I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose – there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?” – Clara Schumann

The formidable Clara Schumann broke glass ceilings in the 19th century as a leading lady of both pianism and composition. A prodigy, scrutinized and disciplined by her father, she quickly reached such brilliant virtuosic and artistic heights that the European public could look past the fact that she was a woman, one anonymous critic stating, “the appearance of this artist can be regarded as epoch-making.” Composition seemed as vital to her music-making as her own playing–at 11, in 1830, she made her debut in the Leipzig Gewandhaus including her Variations on an Original Theme. What followed was an outpouring of pieces, notably the Piano Concerto in A minor. Praised by colleagues such as Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Liszt, she was perhaps most symbiotic but also in direct challenge with her partner Robert in music itself, as he said in a letter, “You complete me as a composer, as I do you.” The well-known battle between Clara’s father and the two musicians in love intensified in the late 1830s. Written on tour in Paris in 1839, Clara dedicated her Piano Romances, Op. 11 to Robert. As traditional romantic-era character pieces, No. 1 in E-flat minor unfolds in lyricism, modulating in creative and original turns to A Major and D-flat Major in its middle section, returning to its barcarolle-like theme and draws to a close with vulnerable, vocal phrases.

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major, Op. 47 (1841) (9′)

Chopin’s four ballades stand as a hallmark of his creative output. Written in 1841, the third Ballade in A-flat Major emerges in contrast to the other three for its more positive, bright mood, enhanced by its Allegretto tempo marking. At the time of composition, Chopin was in Nohant, spending the summer holidays with his partner George Sand. Perhaps this atmosphere called to mind the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz’s poem entitled “Undine,” or “Ondine,” about love and seduction between a water nymph and a man, upon which this Ballade may be based. It remains clear that Chopin wanted his audiences to draw upon their own narratives listening to the Ballades. Its opening ascends melodically and stepwise, evoking a feeling of opening a fairy tale book, while its darker second theme goes the other way, going down stepwise, foreboding, and leads to a dramatic turn of events that then, slowly and with determination, culminates in the return of the first theme in ecstasy and heroism. Playing this piece feels like turning one page after another in a fantastical story, whatever it may be.

 

 

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Gaspard de la nuit, M. 55 (1908) (26′) 

Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit takes its shape from three poems from Aloysius Bertrand’s collection bearing the same title. The pianist Ricardo Vines, who eventually premiered the work, introduced Ravel to Bertrand’s poems. Ravel immediately became curious about the work for its self-proclaimed “two antithetical faces.” Indeed, one can count more than two faces in the work. Ondine, perhaps the same mythical creature as the one in Mickiewicz’s imagination, murmurs, shivers, sings, swims, all in a dangerous attempt to seduce an unavailable mortal man. Le Gibet haunts and hypnotizes with its ostinato B-flats, the interminable toll of a church bell in the distance mourning a hanged man, or in fact the swing in the wind of the hanged man. And Scarbo is an achievement to play, as Ravel somewhat-creully wanted to make pianists suffer more than they do in Balakirev’s Islamey. The spirit of Scarbo is a tiny devil getting under every nerve possible. Any fear is exacerbated until Scarbo finally, ideally, takes over, taking both performer and audience on an almost impossibly wild and thrilling ride.

 

Program Notes by Julia Hamos

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the Union League Club of Chicago.
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are presented in partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and 98.7 WFMT

Don’t miss the Grant Park Music Festival’s Project Inclusion String Fellows next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday August 4, 12:15pm

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