WFSO 2019-2020 Season

UPDATE! 9-16-20


Due to the current restrictions in place by the City of Wichita Falls, the Live at the Lake concert with the WFSO has been cancelled.  The event was scheduled to take place at the Museum of Art at MSU’s Priddy Pavilion on Sept. 17.  In order to keep our patrons and musicians safe, the WFSO and MSU Museum of Art has made the decision to cancel this outdoor event.  

Please watch for updates this fall about events happening with the WFSO. Season tickets for our Spring Concert Season go on sale in October! 


Updated 7-10-2020



 The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra will delay the start of the 2020-2021 concert season due to the challenges and uncertainties created by COVID-19. “This was a difficult decision but one we believe allows us the best opportunity to sustain our organization through the current crisis, fulfill our mission to promote symphonic music in the Texoma community, and be well-positioned to recover quickly,” stated WFSO Board President, Elizabeth Yeager.

 WFSO Executive Director Alicia Deges says, “Our top priority has to be the health and safety of our patrons, musicians and staff. Our current plan is to begin our concert season in January 2021 with a full concert at Memorial Auditorium that includes plans to allow for safe social distancing for our musicians and our audience.” This decision was the result of careful consideration of a number of financial, logistical, and health and safety factors. Among these challenges included the state’s June 3 reopening guidelines limiting performance halls to 50% capacity and the requirement for socially distanced seating for orchestra musicians and audience members. The spring season will include adapted education programs and subscription concerts in January, February, and April. Plans are being made for alternative performance opportunities for WFSO musicians, including small ensemble performances at different venues in the community. The WFSO also hopes to present a chamber group at The Priddy Pavilion on September 17, 2020 as part of the Live at the Lake Concert series.  “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our musicians, many of whom rely solely on performances at concerts like ours. They have lost virtually all of that income,” said Deges. “Financial contributions from our loyal patrons will be more crucial now than ever to make our 2020-2021 season possible. Annual Fund contributions can be made now either online or by mail.”

 Yeager says, “Our goal is the long-term sustainability of the WFSO. By preserving our capital today, we expect to celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2021-2022 with a full season of outstanding symphonic music.”  WFSO patrons can expect season ticket renewals to begin in October 2020 and will have the opportunity to confirm their subscription with season ticket holders receiving first priority for seating. 

Inquiries regarding subscriptions and ticket sales may be directed to WFSO Box Office Manager, Jenny Oliver at 940-723-6202 or via email at  Other inquiries can be made by contacting WFSO Executive Director Alicia Deges at 940-723-6202 or via email at 


May 29, 2020 —  Dear family and friends of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra,

In an effort to be responsible with our resources and faithful to our mission, the Wichita Falls Symphony board or directors has made the difficult decision to cancel the rescheduled concert on August 15, 2020.  The uncertainty of holding a large gathering and the amount of planning and resources required to do that will just not allow us to move forward with the concert. Though this news is disappointing, the health and safety of our musicians, patrons, and staff is our first priority.  Please consider donating the cost of your tickets for a tax deduction or allowing the value of the tickets to be used as a credit next season.  This would greatly assist us during this challenging period when we are unable to provide concerts. 

While we are unable to perform at Memorial Auditorium, the WFSO is working hard to find creative ways to keep the music alive.  We invite you to tune in to our new weekly music playlist, Legato in times of Staccato at .  Also be sure to follow our social media channels for updates and ways to connect with us while we are apart.   Please stay safe and healthy.  We look forward to being back with you in the concert hall very soon.


We hope that you will consider exchanging or donating your tickets and have several convenient options:

Donate your ticket.  Your tax-deductible donation will help the Wichita Falls Symphony fulfill its mission and is especially appreciated during this time of uncertainty.

Exchange your ticket. We would love for you to join us at a future performance in the 20-21 concert season.

Receive credit on your account. Unsure of which concert you would like to exchange for? We will place your funds on your account for future use.

For other ticketing options, please contact the WFSO office via email at or by phone (940)723-6202.


Alicia Deges

Executive Director

Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra


4-29-20 — Dear Friends of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra,

During these unprecedented times when we cannot gather in person, we are constantly exploring ways that we as an organization can connect with you. In looking to the future, we will make decisions based upon two overriding guiding principles. First and foremost, we will do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our musicians, patrons, and staff. Second, we will strive to ensure that the mission of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra is upheld and sustained. For us, this means commitment to promoting music that enriches our lives, educates our students, and entertains our audiences.

We have spent a great deal of time discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, and the impact that both have on the WFSO. While this disruption is significant, and will undoubtedly require a lengthy recovery, we are confident that we will come out of this stronger than before. The WFSO has been a leading cultural force in Texoma for almost 75 years and our foundation remains firm. We are grateful for the continued support of our donors and patrons. Decades of strong board leadership have ensured that we have a solid foundation to withstand financial stresses while maintaining our commitment to artistic excellence and providing our region with inspiring symphonic music.

To date, the leadership of the WFSO has taken focused action to ensure the safety of our patrons and our musicians: 

  • We have rescheduled our April 2020 concert to August 15, 2020.
  • We continue to monitor and reassess our upcoming season to ensure the safety and health of our musicians and audiences. To that end we are considering a number of options such as social distancing within Memorial Auditorium and streaming concerts online in real time.

Although, at this moment, we are disappointed that we cannot share live music with you we remain optimistic about our future. The adversity we are facing today will almost certainly usher in opportunities for new and creative ideas that will allow us to continue to engage and connect with you. Our shared love of great symphonic music will without a doubt carry us through this difficult and challenging time. 

We are grateful for your ongoing support and treasure your commitment to the WFSO throughout the years. We look forward to better days and a brighter future.


Fouad Fakhouri                                 Alicia Deges                                        Elizabeth Yeager

Music Director                                   Executive Director                           Board President

Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra



Updated 3-30-20, 3:15PM

Dear Friends of the WFSO:

We are all sharing a world that is very different than it was just several weeks ago, and it’s changing by the day. However, we are optimistic that we will return to the stage at Memorial Auditorium for our 20/21 season!

Last week we shared with you our plan to postpone the final concert of the season which was scheduled to take place on April 18th. We will continue to closely monitor updates and recommendations from our public health officials regarding the status of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on our future performances.

At this time, the WFSO is looking to reschedule the “Brilliantly Orchestrated” concert on August 15, 2020. We will communicate more details as soon as they become available. If you are a current season ticket holder, your 2019-20 season ticket will be honored at the rescheduled concert.

Anyone who purchased single tickets to the April concert can:

~Retain your tickets for the rescheduled concert;

~Donate your tickets and receive a tax deduction for the total ticket value;

~Receive a refund for the value of your ticket.

For assistance, please contact us by email at, by phone at 940-723-6202.

We are thankful that you — our patrons, donors, and friends — have helped us prepare for this challenging time. Your ongoing connection to and support of our organization through the years has helped make us who we are today and prepared us to meet this enormous challenge. While we are well-positioned, we all know that we are facing uncharted territory and uncertainty about what the future may bring. February marked the beginning of our Annual Fund Campaign which raises vital funds for the incredible concerts we bring to the community each season. We hope that you will continue to support the WFSO even now as planning is underway for our 20/21 season.


Alicia Deges

Executive Director

Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra


Updated 3-25-20, 12:00PM

Our Office is Temporarily Closed March 23 – April 6, 2020

In order to protect the health and safety of our patrons, musicians, and staff – and comply with local, federal and state recommendations, the Wichita Falls Symphony staff will be working remotely between March 23 and April 6.

During this period, you are invited to leave a telephone message for the office at 940-723-6202 or send us an email message at  Our staff will respond as soon as they can. During these challenging times, we encourage everyone to follow the CDC‘s guidelines and be safe.

At the end of the two weeks, we will evaluate and determine the next steps based on the advice of our health authorities.


Updated 3-16-20, 4:30PM

Dear Friends of the WFSO:

Due to the rapidly changing situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra is postponing our April 18, 2020 concert, Brilliantly Orchestrated, with guest pianist Andrey Ponochevny. More information will made available to patrons via email, phone, social media, and posted on our website, In the meantime, please hold on to your tickets.

While our concerts and programs are crucial to the fulfillment of our mission, we are most concerned for the health and well-being of our patrons, orchestra musicians, and staff. We ask that you follow CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of this virus and be vigilant in seeking information from trusted sources.

We look forward to bringing music to the stage of Memorial Auditorium as soon as possible. Thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.

Alicia Deges
Executive Director


Music has an amazing way to connect people in any circumstance.  There is something about it that seems to bring us closer together when we listen, play or sing together. The WFSO is committed to providing you with the joy of music, even when we are not in the concert hall together.  We will provide a weekly play list for you, “Legato in times of Staccato”, curated by Music Director, Fouad Fakhouri.  Simply click on each of the titles on the list below to view a special music selection. Also included each week is a Spotify playlist for you to enjoy all the selections together. 
 We invite you to participate each week by sending us music (from any genre) that you have found comforting and uplifting. We hope that through music we can encourage each other through these uncertain times. Send your play list additions to us at Preferable formats are YouTube and Sound Cloud clips, or just share the title and artist or composer and we will do our best to find it!


Legato in times of Staccato

   Curated by Music Director, Fouad Fakhouri 

Previous Playlists


April 13th – Playlist #1 
July 8th – Playlist #14
April 13th – Playlist #2
July 15th – Playlist #15  “Ennio Morricone”
April 20th – Playlist #3
July 22nd – Playlist #16 “Great Movie Themes”
April 27th – Playlist #4
July 29th – Playlist #17
May 4th – Playlist #5
August 5th – Playlist #18
May 11th – Playlist #6
August 12th – Playlist #19 “Great Movie Themes”
May 18th- Playlist #7
August 19th – Playlist #20
May 26th – Playlist #8
August 26th – Playlist #21 “The Music of John Williams”
June 3rd – Playlist #9
September 2nd – Playlist #22
June 10th – Playlist #10
September 9th – Playlist #23 “The Music of John Williams”
June 17th – Playlist #11
September 16th – Playlist #24
June 24th – Playlist #12
September 23rd – Playlist #25 “The Music of John Williams”
July 1st – Playlist #13
September 30th – Playlist #26 “Classic Broadway”



***To access all of our Legato in times of Staccato playlists on spotify, click here!***

  • Concert Information
  • Biography
  • Program Notes
  • Concert Information
  • Biography
  • Program Notes

May 1, 2021 – 7:30 pm VIRTUAL CONCERT available for streaming.

Gulda: Cello Concerto

Beethoven: Symphony No. 8

  • May 1, 2021 – On-Demand video available by clicking HERE.


As we return to Memorial Auditorium, it is the WFSO’s top priority to ensure the safety and health of our musicians, patrons, and staff. Despite the recent elimination of mask requirements, we will continue to follow the CDC Covid-19 Safety Guidelines. Face masks will be mandatory for all patrons, staff, and musicians, along with limited and socially distanced seating for audience members.


Igor Cetkovic

A native of Belgrade, Serbia, cellist Igor Cetkovic enjoys a career as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestra member, and educator. Igor has served with orchestras across Europe and the United States, including the Bergen Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, and as principal cellist of the Serbian chamber orchestra, The St. George Strings.  Igor has appeared as a guest soloist with the Yugoslav Army Orchestra, the St. George Strings, Kalamazoo Symphony, Saginaw Bay Symphony, Albion Symphony, and in solo and chamber music recitals all over the world. Igor’s performance career has allowed him to play in many of Europe’s greatest halls, including Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Barbican Center in London, and KKL-Luzern Concert Hall.  Igor finished his doctoral studies at Michigan State University, studying under the renowned Suren Bagratuni. He also holds degrees from Stavanger University, University of Belgrade and Central Michigan University.  Igor’s other principal teachers include his father Relja Cetkovic, Sandra Belic, Liv Opdal and Jamie Fiste.

 Currently, Igor  is an artist-in-residence  and principal cellist of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, principal cello of the Saginaw Bay Symphony, assistant principal cello of the West Michigan Symphony and the cellist for the Burdick-Thorne String Quartet. Igor is also co-founder and artistic director of the Michigan Princess Classical Concert Series in Grand Ledge, Mi, inviting musicians from all over the world to perform little-known chamber works. Igor served on the faculty at Albion College, and has given masterclasses at the Flint Institute of Music, Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University, State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, and for MASTA (Michigan chapter of American String Teachers Association). 

Program Notes
“Cheerful Symmetry”
April 17, 2021
Todd Giles

Friedrich Gulda: Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra (1980)

Born in Beethoven’s resting place of Vienna just over a century after the great composer’s passing, Friedrich Gulda (1938-2000) began his own musical career as a concert pianist at an early age, winning the prestigious Geneva competition at 16; at 20 he made his Carnegie Hall debut in the US. Alongside Glenn Gould, Gulda quickly became one of the most important interpreters of the piano repertoire in the post-World War II era, recording music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Debussy. Also like Gould, Gulda grew disillusioned with the formality of the classical music profession, moving his career in a decidedly different direction in the early 1960s towards jazz improvisation. Never one for following expectations (he once performed Schumann songs in the nude on stage with his girlfriend), Gulda refused to accept the esteemed Beethoven Ring awarded by the Vienna Academy of Music in protest against what he saw as the conservatism of classical music education. Gulda’s five-movement Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra is at one and the same time melodic, jazzy, dissonant, danceable, rocking, improvisational and virtuosic as it brings together an array of disparate musical styles—from the driving Big Band and 70s funk that opens the work’s “Overture,” to the traditional waltz-like Ländler which was popular in Beethoven’s Vienna. Composed for the cellist Heinrich Schiff in 1980—around the same time Gulda was collaborating with jazz pianist Chick Corea—the concerto’s scoring also calls for a drum set, guitar and two double-bases. The second movement, marked “Idyll,” returns us to the Austrian Alps with traditional melodic tunes that could easily find a home in one of Beethoven’s works for wind ensemble. The improvisatory “Cadenza” calls on the soloist’s virtuosity, while also embedding in it a variety of musical styles. A lovely dialogue between the flute, guitar and cello opens the lilting “Menuett,” which is followed by the bombast of the “Finale,” once again sending the ensemble on a different tact—that of a stylized beerhall or marching band—bringing this jaunty patchwork of musical styles to a close.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 F major, Op. 93 (1812)

Beethoven composed his Eighth Symphony towards the end of his “middle period” (1803-1813), a tumultuous time coincided with his increased hearing loss; an episode of unrequited love; a kerfuffle with his youngest brother, Johann, over his new live-in housekeeper; a quarrel with his good friend Johann Maelzel, inventor of the metronome; and having to learn to cope with the mortal illness of his other younger brother, Caspar. Visiting brother Johann at his home in Linz during the summer of 1812, the forty-two year old Ludwig returned his attention to completing his seventh and eighth symphonies, which were both begun in 1809. Situated between the Dionysian fervor and rhythmic power of No. 7 and the exalted spirituality and humanity of No. 9, the Symphony No. 8 in F major is the most charming and humorous of Beethoven’s symphonies. All four movements of the Eighth are clearly delineated, but they all somehow seem a little off-kilter. The first movement jumps right in without any kind of preamble. It is a joyous symphony—not in the “Ode to Joy” sense; rather, Beethoven is having fun here with a few musical jokes as the symphony at time stumbles on rather heavy-footedly, while at others it marches along to a regular beat. Indeed, the second movement is thought to be an affectionate parody of the metronome—perhaps even an apology to his above-mentioned friend—though others have heard a nod to Haydn’s “Clock Symphony.” Either way, the incessant ticking of the woodwinds moves us forward with monotonous regularity. The third movement, marked “Tempo di Menuetto,” finds Beethoven still at play as he replaces a slow and refined minuet with a hopping and stamping folkdance known as a Ländler (picture the scene in The Sound of Music where Maria and Captain von Trapp dance in the courtyard). The finale of No. 8 is pure Beethoven bombast, as the orchestra makes a mad dash full of surprises and unexpected effects while the composer continues to experiment with dynamics, instrumentation, and silent hesitations, closing this short and joyous symphony with a spirited, over-the-top coda.


  • Concert Information
  • Biography
  • Program Notes

This concert has been reimagined to be a VIRTUAL CONCERT ONLY. 


March 20, 2021 – April 18, 2021


Purchase “WFSO On-Demand” access by clicking HERE.


Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525

Emmanuel Séjourné: Concerto for Marimba and Strings, Mvmts II and III

Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a 

Dr. Corey Robinson

Corey Robinson is a Wichita Falls, Texas based percussionist, educator, and composer. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Percussion and Associate Director of Bands at Midwestern State University. Previous appointments at the University of Texas at Tyler, Texas Woman’s University, the University of North Texas, Abilene Christian University (TX) Flower Mound High School (TX), Argyle High School (TX) and Coppell High School (TX) allowed Dr. Robinson the opportunity to work with hundreds of percussionists of all ages and ability levels. Many of Dr. Robinson’s recent performances have been as half of a percussion/saxophone duo with his wife, Amy. They have premiered numerous commissions and a number of his own works at saxophone conferences around the world including the World Saxophone Conference and six North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences. Dr. Robinson has also performed at three Percussive Arts Society International Conventions including a concert with the University of North Texas Percussion Ensemble at PASIC 2016. This performance included the world premiere of his large percussion ensemble work, Twisted Metal. Dr. Robinson received his Bachelor of Music Education from Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, his Master of Music in Percussion Performance from Indiana University, Bloomington, and his DMA at the University of North Texas. His percussion teachers include Mark Ford, Christopher Deane, Paul Rennick, Ed Soph, Poovalur Sriji, Stockton Helbing, José Aponte, Ed Smith, John Tafoya, Kevin Bobo, Michael Spiro and Dr. David Glover. Dr. Robinson currently endorses Marimba One and Innovative Percussion and his compositions are available through Murphy Music Press, Musicon Publishing and Innovative Percussion Publications. He currently resides in Wichita Falls, Texas with his wife Amy and their two cats, Beesly and Halpert.

Program Notes
“Modern String Landscape”
March 20, 2021
Todd Giles

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 in G major, K.525) (1787)

It’s the classic Classical serenade—Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, or “A Little Night Music.” Indeed, places it at the top of their list of today’s most well-known classical compositions. Selections from the four-movement serenade have appeared in everything from TV commercials to films such as Alien, There’s something About Mary, and, of course, Amadeus. The divertimenti, nocturne and serenade forms were, one might say, the elevator music of Mozart’s time—light music performed outdoors in the evening as a tribute to a particular individual or event. While Mozart used these terms rather loosely in his catalogue, the forms all share certain characteristics: a wealth of material presented in the opening march, two slow movements, two minuets, and, on occasion, another fast movement or two in sonata form. Mozart wrote two serenades in the summer of 1787 while working on his opera Don Giovanni in Vienna—Eine kleine Nachtmusik and, six months earlier, Ein musikalischer Spass, or “A Musical Joke,” a satire on the small town composers of his day. Eine kleine Nachtmusik, which originally had a fifth movement that has been lost to time, is scored for string quartet and double bass, though it is now most commonly performed by orchestra. However one hears it, whether in the concert hall or at an annoying distant relative’s wedding, its liveliness and memorable melodies are sure to uplift and please.


Emmanuel Séjourné: Concerto for Marimba and Strings (2005)

French composer and percussionist Emmanuel Séjourné was born in Limoges, France in 1961. To date, he has composed music for orchestra, chamber ensemble, ballet, theatre, television, and more. Séjourné’s music embraces both the classical tradition and popular music; it is energetic, rhythmic, and, unlike much modern music, is romantic at its core. The Concerto for Marimba and Strings, which was commissioned and first performed by Romanian marimbist Bogdan Bacanu and the Salzburg Soloists in 2005, features two movements—a lush opening cadenza marked “Tempo Souple,” with an evocative melody reminiscent of the third movement of Braham’s Symphony No. 3, followed by the flashier “Rythmique, energique.” In 2015, Séjourné added a third movement to round out the composition. What we hear here is the original two-movement version. Already a standard work in the repertoire, Séjourné’s concerto pairs the marimba with a small string orchestra that never overshadows the solo instrument, even at its most gentle and subtle moments. Whether listeners are drawn to the rich, melodic playing of the strings, or the diversity of styles and pyrotechnics of the soloist, the Concerto for Marimba and Strings will appeal to all who have the pleasure of hearing this modern masterpiece which has already been performed by over 300 orchestras around the globe.


Dimitri Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony for Strings in C minor, Op. 110a (1960)

Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony is a transcription of the Russian composer’s String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, also composed in 1960. That the quartet is dedicated “to the victims of fascism and war” is made even more poignant when we consider that Shostakovich wrote it while working in the ruined city of Dresden, which had been fire-bombed fifteen years earlier during World War II. The Chamber Symphony is an autobiography for the ears, so to speak, in that Shostakovich included self-referential quotes from three of his earlier symphonies and his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. It also quotes from the Russian song “Exhausted by the Hardship of Prison.” Another autobiographical hallmark, along with Shostakovich’s usual melancholic depth and profound sense of anguish, is the inclusion of the notes of D, E-flat, C and B, representing the German spelling of “DSCH,” letters derived from the composer’s name. The first of the five interconnected movements of the Chamber Symphony opens with a sense of mournfulness and foreboding with Shostakovich’s trademark monogram. The second movement erupts with a frenzied savageness, while the skittering “Allegretto” returns the “DSCH” motive, followed by the two final “Largos,” the first of which suggests the “Day of Judgment” melody from a Gregorian chant associated with death and the apocalypse, the latter, once again returning to the “DSCH” motive, seems weary and bleak, as it drifts away into silence. In the Chamber Symphony we hear some of Shostakovich’s grimmest thoughts as this survivor of the Russian Revolution, the Second World War, and the Stalinist holocaust broods over a scene of incomprehensible devastation.

  • Concert Information
  • Biography
  • Program Notes

January 30, 2021 – March 1, 2021

This concert has been reimagined to be a VIRTUAL CONCERT ONLY. 

Purchase “WFSO On-Demand” access by clicking HERE


  1. Pezzo in forma di sonatina. Andante non troppo – Allegro moderato
  2. Valse. Moderato. Tempo di Valse
  3. Élégie. Larghetto elegiaco
  4. Finale (Tema russo). Andante – Allegro con spirito


EDVARD GRIEG Holberg Suite, Op. 40

  1. Praeludium: Allegro vivace
  2. Sarabande: Andante
  3. Gavotte: Allegretto 
  4. Rigaudon: Allegro con brio

To view this concert’s Music & Wine Pairing click HERE

Tonight’s performance is being recorded for archival purposes & for on-demand digital distribution. All other photographing or sound recording of this concert is strictly prohibited.The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra, Inc. is a member of the League of American Orchestras, the Texas Association of Symphony Orchestras (TASO), and The Arts Council of Wichita Falls. This program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. This program is supported in part by a grant made possible by the City of Wichita Falls as administered by the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture. The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra, Inc. is licensed by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)



Program Notes

“WFSO—Bringing Music to Life”

January 23, 2021

Todd Giles

Tonight’s program strives to put a little bounce back into your step during these awkward times by exploring the theme of the dance. In Tchaikovsky, we hear a beautifully flowing waltz harkening back admiringly to Mozart; in Strauss, we turn to a brief, plucky polka; and in Grieg, we look back again to Mozart’s time (and a little before) with a Neoclassical suite celebrating earlier dance tunes from around Europe. So sit back, loosen up your tapping toes, and get your sway on.

 Tchaikovsky: Serenade in C major, Op. 48 (1880)

1880 saw Tchaikovsky complete two compositions that couldn’t have been more different—the bombastic 1812 Overture and the more sonorous Serenade for Strings. Of the former, Tchaikovsky wrote: “The overture will be very loud and noisy, but I wrote it without warmth or love, and so it will probably not have any artistic merit.” Conversely, he wrote of the latter: “I am violently in love with this work and can’t wait for it to be played.” Originally intended to be performed outdoors during the nighttime, serenades became popular with 18th century composers, as seen in two of the form’s exemplary works from the Classical era, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusic and the Haffner Serenade. The next century saw the serenade loose its evening and outdoor affiliations as it moved closer in line with the symphony form. Along with Tchaikovsky’s, the late 1800s also saw serenades composed across Europe by the likes of Dvorak, Suk and Elgar. Inspired by Mozart, his favorite composer, Tchaikovsky’s four-movement Serenade opens with a “Piece in the form of a sonatina” which is framed by a slow, sumptuous introduction that returns after the movement’s livelier middle sections. Next is the work’s shortest and most well-known movement, a “Waltz,” followed by a serene “Elegy” which brings back some of the grandeur of the first movement. After a slow, muted opening, the “Finale” quickly morphs into a fast-paced Russian dance tune sub-headed “Allegro con spirit.” In a final tip of the inspirational hat to Mozart’s wit and creativity, Tchaikovsky briefly and unexpectedly quotes from the beginning of the opening movement towards the end of the coda before returning for a few moments to the quickening pace of the Russian-inspired dance as the Serenate comes to a vivacious close.



Johann Strauss II & Joseph Strauss: Pizzicato Polka for Orchestra (1870)

Born in Vienna thirty-four years after the passing of Mozart, Johann Strauss II took the Austrian capital by storm with his prolific output of over 500 dance pieces, as well as 18 light operas and ballets. Following in his namesake’s footsteps—Johann Strauss, Sr.—the eldest Strauss son raised the light, danceable music of the late 19th century Hapsburg Empire to new heights of elegance with works such as the Blue Danube, Emperor, and Vienna Blood waltzes. With his younger brother, Josef (1827–1880), Johann, Jr. wrote the three-minute Pizzicato Polka for one of their concert tours of Russia in 1869. As a musical form, the polka first appeared in Prague in 1837, making its way to the capital city two years later. The Pizzicato Polka is scored for strings and glockenspiel, a German percussion instrument similar to the xylophone. As the title indicates, this unusual polka is performed entirely on plucked strings, which perhaps led to its sustained popularity.



Edvard Grieg: Holberg Suite, Op. 40 (1884-1885)

Similar to Czech composers Bedrich Smetana and Antonin Dvorak’s Romantic musical nationalisms, Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1843–1907) also worked outside the European classical tradition by embracing the warmth and melodies of the folk traditions of his native land. Best known for the Piano Concerto in A minor (1868), as well as his Peer Gynt Suite (1875), Grieg also wrote some of the most endearing short works for orchestra in the late Romantic period. One such work is From Holberg’s Time: Suite in Olden Style, named after Norwegian-born Danish playwright Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754). The work, originally scored for Grieg’s favored instrument, the piano, was composed in celebration of the bicentenary of Holberg’s birth in 1884. The Holberg Suite is an example of what in the early 20th century would become known as Neoclassism, a reactionary style which embraced the more melodic musical tastes of the 17th and 18th centuries. Grieg’s nostalgic backward glance takes the form a five-movement dance suite intended to call to mind the “olden style” of the late Baroque/early Classical periods of Holberg’s day. As is the case with Neoclassicism, Grieg’s own time period and personal style meld together with the earlier forms and sounds of the work’s dance movements, such as the Praeludium, Sarabande, and Rigaudon.