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Songs of the Past, Present and Future: Santa Cruz Symphony

  • Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium 350 Church Street Santa Cruz, CA, 95060 United States (map)

Overture to Die Meistersinger

Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs)
Michelle Bradley, Soprano


Richard Wagner’s celebratory and stirring Prelude to his comedic opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg begins our vocally themed program. The story revolves around the city's guild of Meistersinger (Master Singers), an association of amateur poets and musicians who were primarily master craftsmen of various trades. The master singers had developed a craftsmanlike approach to music-making, with an intricate system of rules for composing and performing songs. The work draws much of its atmosphere from its depiction of the Nuremberg of the era and the traditions of the master-singer guild. The Prelude is approximately 9 minutes long.

Next is Richard Strauss’ visionary and transcendent Four Last Songs with Metropolitan Opera star and frequent guest Michelle Bradley. The songs are "Frühling" (Spring), "September", "Beim Schlafengehen"(When Falling Asleep) and "Im Abendrot" (At Sunset). All of the songs but "Frühling" deal with death. Frühling, September, and Beim Schlafengehen are based on poems by Hermann Hess. Im Abendrot is based on a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff, which he felt had a special meaning for him.Strauss wrote the songs for soprano and orchestra, and died shortly after completing them. They are suffused with a sense of calm, acceptance, and completeness. The four songs are approximately 25 minutes.

One Thousand and One Nights, also known as The Arabian Nights, is the inspiration for Rimsky-Korsakov’s sweepingly epic Scheherezade, once again featuring our concertmaster, Nigel Armstrong. Korsakov wrote a brief introduction for the premiere: 

The Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales, told seriatim, for a thousand and one nights. The Sultan, consumed with curiosity, postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and finally repudiated his bloody vow entirely.

The piece lasts approximately 46 minutes and consists of four movements: The Sea and Sinbad's ShipThe Kalandar PrinceThe Young Prince and The Young Princess, and Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman. 


Wagner - Overture to Die Meistersinger (Listen)

R. Strauss - Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs) (Listen)
1. "Frühling"
2. "September"
3. "Beim Schlafengehen"
4. "Im Abendrot"

  Michelle Bradley, Soprano

--- Intermission ---

Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherezade (Listen)

Music Director Daniel Stewart Conducts