|About this Recording
8.559014 - FOOTE: Piano Quartet / String Quartet / Nocturne and Scherzo
Arthur Foote (1853-1937)
Arthur William Foote was born in Salem, Massachusetts on 5th March, 1853. His father, Caleb Foote (1803-1894), was editor of the Salem Gazette. His mother, Mary Wilder White Foote (1810-1857), died when he was four. As a small child he showed neither unusual talent nor particular interest in music. Foote indicated an interest in music for the first time when he was twelve years old, his desire to study music probably stimulated by observing his sister's piano study. Since there were no gifted musicians in his family and no real music programme existed in Salem schools, he received his first music lessons at the age of fourteen. His first teacher was Miss Fanny Paine, whose teacher Benjamin Lang took an interest in the young boy and at Lang's suggestion Foote registered at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he took a harmony course from Stephen Emery. In September, 1870, Foote entered Harvard University. There he conducted the Harvard Glee Club and took music courses from John Knowles Paine, receiving his Bachelor of Music degree in 1874. That summer he also took organ lessons from Benjamin Lang. The latter, convinced of Foote's talents encouraged him to continue his music studies and pursue a music career. Foote did graduate studies at Harvard and became the recipient of the Degree of Master of Arts in June, 1875, the first such degree awarded by an American university. Paine was an excellent teacher, however his musical viewpoint was largely influenced by German romanticism as reflected by the compositions of Schumann and Mendelssohn. Foote, despite his American upbringing, continued in his teacher's footsteps, expanding slightly towards the 'newer' German school of Brahms and Wagner.
Foote spent the summer of 1876 at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, an experience that was to influence him for life. Two years later, he was appointed organist and choirmaster of the First Unitarian Church in Boston, a post he held for 32 years. He became an integral and most influential member of his musical community and began a series of chamber music concerts and many of his finest works were first performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rupert Hughes commented in 1900 that "Almost all of Foote's compositions are written in the close harmony and limited range of vocal music, and he very rarely sweeps the keyboard in his piano compositions, or hunts out startling novelties in strictly pianistic effect. He is not fond of the cloudy regions of the upper notes, and though he may dart brilliantly skyward now and then just to show that his wings are good for lighter air, he is soon back again, drifting along the middle ether. He has won his high place by faithful adherence to his own sober, serene ideals, and by his genuine culture and seriousness."
The style he established in his earliest works he would use for the rest of his life. According to David Ewen, Foote's music is "always thoroughly lyrical, with broad and stately melodies; romantic in rhapsodic moods; and classical in structure, a reflection of his life-long adoration of Brahms and Wagner." He was not a prolific composer, writing only eight orchestral works. His large choral works, The Farewell of Hiawatha, The Wreck of the Hesperus, and The Skeleton in Armor (all to texts by Long fellow) show clear influences of Wagner. According to Wilma Reid Cipolla, in Foote's output there are 73 numbered works, from Opus 1 to Opus 80, with Opp. 2, 19, 35, 56, 57,66, and 75 unaccounted for. Among the 130 unnumbered compositions, there are 54 songs and 57 choral works. Among his most popular works is the >Suite in E major, for strings (1907), a neo-romantic work within a baroque structure. During his life, he received two honorary doctorates in music and was made a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was one of the founders and also president of the American Guild of Organists. Foote died on 8thApril, 1937.
Arthur Foote completed his Piano Quartet in C major, Opus 23, in August, 1890, and dedicated the work to John Knowles Paine. The first performance took place on 21st April, 1891, in Boston with members of the Kneisel Quartet and the composer at the piano. The work became very popular and was played by the composer at least forty times in public concerts. Frequent performances were also given in Europe and in the United States by the Adamowski, Dannreuther, and other well known quartets. His biographer Nicholas E. Tawa finds that "The piece makes a statement that is benevolent and compassionate rather than passionate. Foote makes no attempt to achieve the heroism of Beethoven, the sensuousness of Wagner, the nostalgic sadness of Brahms, or the hysteria of Tchaikovsky. Like Schubert, he is a melodist first, but of quite a different sort. Schubert's edge of bitter-sweetness, ingenuous yearning, and moments of vehement excitement are absent. In contrast, Foote feels there is room in humankind's experience for a long stretch of quietude and repose that is relatively free from high turbulence, mental agitation, and emotional pressure. The quartet inhabits an expressive domain that is strictly the composer's own." The opening movement is marked Allegro comodo, an opening which he wants to be in a lively tempo, but also to be performed with ease and in comfort. From the opening measures, we feel that Foote is in a celebratory mood. There is no Germanic angst here, but rather a well-integrated texture of strings and piano reminding of, perhaps, late nineteenth century French styles. The Scherzo which follows is vivacious and sprightly. The slow movement, marked Adagio, ma con moto, is one of Foote's most soulful and songful chamber music moments. Musicologist and historian, John Sullivan Dwight, compliments this movement's "Finer feeling and sweeter melody, with more to say well worth the hearing." The honey-sweet opening melody is haunting and unforgettable. The leisurely-paced movement unwraps its musical gifts ever so gently, takes a short break, and returns to the opening music convening the movement as if saying, "There it is... wasn't it just a beauty?" The finale, marked Allegro non troppo, wakes us out of our peaceful repose. It is a forceful, bustling ending, moderately fast paced, somewhat tense, and even includes an old hymn and a fugato passage. John Sullivan Dwight writes. "The last movement seemed to us to contain more musical good sense than any part of the quartet. Clear, spontaneous, consistent, well wrought, especially in the contrapuntal passages near the end, it satisfied the musical sense."
The String Quartet No.1 in G minor, Opus 4 was completed by Foote in 1883. It was performed for the first time by a quartet of Boston musicians (Charles N. Allen, Theodore Human, Carl Meisel and Wulf Fries) on 7th December, 1883. According to Nicholas E. Tawa, "Warmth of feeling, directness of expression, simplicity of means, and clarity of structure were found to be the quartet's outstanding merits by the audience and critics who heard its premiere." The first New York performance took place a decade later, on 5th May, 1893, when the Beethoven Quartette performed the work. The score bears a dedication to Theodore Thomas. Although Foote never willingly honoured his musical mentors in his music, their influences are particularly evident in this early work Schumann's (and to a lesser degree, Mendelssohn's) shadow can be felt throughout. The opening Allegro appassionato is cast in a Schumannesque sonata-allegro form. The musical material is fervent and direct. The respite Foote provides before the agitated development section is lyrical but not too sentimental. The movement ends in a rapid and dramatic passage, almost as if the quartet scatters off stage. The Scherzo which follows is a spirited, almost "woodland"-like piece of music, while the third movement, marked Andante con moto, is graceful and lovely. The finale, marked Molto allegro, is essentially an energetic rondo.
The Nocturne and Scherzo for Flute and String Quartet were composed in 1918 and dedicated to the Chamber Music Society of San Francisco. The Nocturne, which is actually untitled in the manuscript, was published four years later, in 1922, as A Night Piece for Flute and Strings. The Scherzo is Foote's arrangement of the second movement of the unpublished String Quartet No.2 in E major, Opus 32. The first performance took place in San Francisco on 28th January, 1919. Members of the Chamber Music Society of San Francisco - Elias Hecht, Louis Persinger, Louis Ford, Nathan Firestone, and Horace Britt - were the performers. Ray Brown, the critic for the >San Francisco Examiner, wrote after the première: "The Nocturne and Scherzo for flute and strings by Arthur Foote, played for the first time anywhere, proved a surprise to those who believed that the composer had about written his talent out. The work was written last summer in Foote's sixty-fifth year, yet it shows not a trace of encroaching age. It is fresh and spontaneous, plentiful in melody and colored with beauty. The Nocturne has nothing of the melancholy musings of disillusioned maturity, but is filled with the quickening impulses of spring, and the Scherzo has a nimble and joyous wit." The Nocturne (“A Night Piece”) eventually became Foote's best-known and most-performed work. John Burke, programme annotator for the Boston Symphony provided the following insightful comments about this work a few days after Foote's death in 1937. "The "Night Piece" may well be considered to typify Arthur Foote and his art. It has no concern to shake the world. It no more than searches the beauties of certain tonal combination within the suitable confines of an accepted form. And this search is made with a neat skill, a sensitive response to beauty which has enabled him to capture a distillation of sheer sensuous delight. It need hardly be added that result is far more precious to the audiences of 1919 or 1937 than the more ambitious attempts of lesser men."
1998 Marina and Victor Ledin, Encore Consultants
Da Vinci Quartet
The Da Vinci Quartet was formed in 1980 under the aegis of the internationally renowned Fine Arts Quartet at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 1982 the Quartet became Artists-in-residence at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Prizewinners and finalists in the Dmitri Shostakovich International String Quartet Competition and the Naumberg Award for Chamber Music, the Da Vinci Quartet now resides in Colorado where it performs concert series in three cities, teaches at the University of Denver , the Lamont School of Music and serves as visiting faculty at the University of Northern Colorado. Jerilyn Jorgensen, first violinist, is a graduate of the Juilliard School where she was a scholarship student of Joseph Fuchs. Kay Kireilis, second violinist, is assistant concertmaster of the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra. Margaret Miller, violist is a graduate of Indiana Universityy and the Institute of Chamber Music at the University of Wisconsin. Katharine Knight, cellist is recipient of awards for cello and chamber music performance from Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University, and the New England Conservatory.
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