On Saturday, February 23, Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is set to perform a program featuring works by Borodin, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky. The concert will take place at 7:30 pm at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are available by visiting the Lincoln Symphony website or by calling 402-476-2211.
Russian composers developed their own distinct style in the Romantic period. Led by Mily Balakirev (whose music was performed in Lincoln recently by Shirley Harrison), Russian musicians broke from following styles dictated by Western musical culture and began exploring their own musical tradition and finding ways to impart their history in harmonies and rhythms of their own. Alexander Borodin, whose Nocturne for string orchestra will be heard on Saturday, was one of "the Five" or "the Mighty Handful" who led Russian musicians in nationalist sentiment and style.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky, also initially influenced by Balakirev, went on to find his own blend of nationalist, Russia-inspired music and Western tradition. Although not always receiving notice from music historians as much as other composers of the time, Tchaikovsky still remains one of the most well-loved composers. Not only is the Nutcracker heard every holiday season on radio stations and even commercials, but Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty ballet is known by every little girl growing up watching and singing along to Disney's "Sleeping Beauty." His unique use of orchestration and harmony to move the audience is loved around the world to this day, and the LSO will surely move their audience on Saturday with their performance of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique symphony.
Dmitri Shostakovich, 1906-1975, was a Soviet composer and developed his own style described as having "sharp contrasts and elements of the grotesque" (Sheinberg). One thing that is certain about all the Russian composers on this weekend's program is that their music is fascinating and emotionally charged. You cannot listen to their music without responding emotionally, falling in love with the piece or disliking it, being moved to happiness or heartache.