Leaving a classical legacy
"That's the closest we come to creating, rather than just re-creating, and it's incredibly satisfying."
So said Joseph Kalichstein, pianist of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, during yesterday's Morning Edition report on the Trio's premiere of a new work by American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Note the nice distinction between creating and re-creating. Usually, classical musicians, like actors, do the latter, repeating instructions provided by someone else, rather than making them up themselves. And at the highest level, musical re-creation, again like acting, is itself a challenging and rewarding art. But many musicians have considered it to be a major part of their mission to midwife new works by commissions and collaborations. So today, let's pay tribute to a selective list of the past performers whose musical godchildren continue to be enjoyed today. Click on the highlighted text in their descriptions to discover their identities.
Between them, the two legendary violinists pictured above were responsible for practically the entire late-romantic concerto repertoire. On the left, there's the Hungarian whose legacy includes great works by Robert Schumann, Max Bruch, Antonín Dvořák and especially Johannes Brahms. On the right, there's the Spaniard who gets the credit for violin favorites by Bruch, Camille Saint-Saëns and Édouard Lalo. They both created their own music, by the way, with the former's "Hungarian" Concerto and the latter's many virtuoso encores still heard today.
Back to Spain for the gentleman on the left above, the great guitarist who revived that instrument's classical reputation, and inspired new works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Joaquín Rodrigo, Manuel Ponce and many others. The famous French flutist in the middle commissioned or premiered important repertoire by the likes of Francis Poulenc, Aram Khachaturian, Jean Françaix, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. And on the right, it's the "King of Swing", whose classical legacy includes now standard clarinet music by Béla Bartók, Malcolm Arnold, Paul Hindemith, Aaron Copland and Morton Gould.
Finally, a pair of conductors who parlayed their wives' fortunes into some of the most productive commissioning projects of the 20th century. On the left, we see the Swiss conductor who left behind chamber orchestra masterworks by Igor Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith and his countrymen Frank Martin and Arthur Honegger. On the right is the legendary Boston Symphony Orchestra maestro who premiered works by a veritable who's who -- Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith, Sergei Prokofiev, Albert Roussel, Maurice Ravel, Roy Harris, William Schuman and many more -- and whose foundation has funded a similarly starry list of composers ever since. Thanks for all the great music, Koussy!