RED NOTE BRESNICK reordered


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Illinois State University Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts School of Music
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RED NOTE
NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL Music of Martin Bresnick
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Online Video Premiere April 29, 2021
7 PM Central Daylight Time

MUSIC OF MARTIN BRESNICK
RED NOTE New Music Festival April 29, 2021

Oyfn Veg (2020)

Martin Bresnick (b. 1946)
Anna Presler, violin Allegra Chapman, piano

Bundists (2015)

Tuyen Tonnu, piano

Martin Bresnick

Songs of the Mouse People (1999)

Martin Bresnick

1. Common Squeaking (Made apparent by its delicacy) 2. That Peace We Yearn For 3. Every Disturbance Is An Opportunity 4. A Thousand Pairs Of Shoulders Tremble (Under a burden actually meant for one) 5. Laughter Stops (When we see Josephine)

Adriana Ransom, cello Jeremy Brunk, vibraphone

Theme and Variations (1964)
Alex Widomska, oboe

Martin Bresnick

Ballade (2004)

Tanya Tomkins, cello Eric Zivian, piano

Martin Bresnick

Extrana Devocion! (Strange Devotion!) (2010)
Tuyen Tonnu, piano

Martin Bresnick

Mayn Rue Plats (2020)

Anna Presler, violin Eric Zivian, piano

Martin Bresnick

A Message from the Emperor (2010)

Martin Bresnick

Ksenija Komljenovic & Peter White, percussion

Program Notes
All notes by the composer, except where noted
Oyfn Veg (2020)
Marek Edelman was one of the great Bundists of Poland. This story was told to Itsik Manger, composer of the original Oyfn Veg, by Marek Edelman, a surviving commander of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (the armed resistance by the Jews that lasted 3 weeks and kept the S.S. from continuing their evacuation of the Ghetto):
“The Warsaw Ghetto was in its death throes. In order to subdue the remaining Ghetto fighters, the Germans began throwing incendiary bombs into the buildings. The heat became unbearable. Thousands burned to death. We had little ammunition left. Only one choice – to abandon our bunkers and try to make our way outside, to the tunnels that led to the Aryan side. Coming out of our bunker, we were stunned. The whole Ghetto was in flames. This must have been what Jerusalem looked like when the Romans destroyed it, what Rome must have looked like when Nero burned it. Then suddenly a girl in our band began to recite, or better, to mutter: “Oyfn veg shteyt a boym/ shteyt er ayngeboygn/ Ale feygl funem boym/ zenen zich tzefloygn. . .” She barely muttered it, but we all heard it. And we felt that not only had the birds departed, but everyone – fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters...” Manger added: “I wrote that song in the 30’s, in tribute to my mother, a simple woman who couldn’t read or write but had an ocean of love, love that could become too heavy for even the strongest wings. But the song itself now belongs to that unknown girl in the Warsaw Ghetto. She hallowed it in the last seconds of her life in the glare of the Ghetto flames.”
Bundists (2015)
Bundists is a short virtuoso piano work commissioned by David Kaplan for his series entitled “New Dances of the League of David.” The work incorporates moments from Schumann’s Davidsbündler, Ligeti’s piano etudes, and other fragments of my own devising. The Bund I was thinking of was the old Socialist Bund of Russia and Poland.
Songs of the Mouse People (1999)
Songs of the Mouse People is based on a Franz Kafka’s last short work “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse People.” In that remarkable valedictory story Kafka meditates on a mouse diva, Josephine, and her relationship to both her art and her audience.

In my composition I have translated sentences from the original that suggested (to me, at least) titles in the mouse people’s multi-volume treasury of songs. There remain two books of five songs each in the first volume, and two further books of songs in volume two.
Songs of the Mouse People was commissioned by Maya Beiser and Steven Schick with the assistance of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
Theme and Variations (1964)
Martin Bresnick began playing the oboe at the age of eleven and performed seriously throughout graduate school. Written at the age of eighteen, this brief work is Martin Bresnick’s earliest published composition, and provides us with a glimpse of his early style. An adagio theme is followed by three variations and a coda. (Carl Schimmel)
Ballade (2004)
Ballade was commissioned by and written for my friend the cellist Andre Emelianoff, as an homage to Brahms. It suggests the dark colors, compact rhetoric, intricate counterpoint and formal rigor characteristic of that great master. Ballade was premiered by Andre Emelianoff on June 1, 2004, at Merkin Hall in New York City.
Extrana Devocion! (Strange Devotion!) (2010)
One of the artist Francisco de Goya’s most enigmatic etchings in his famous series “Caprichos Enfaticos” or “Emphatic Caprices” is entitled “Extrana Devocion.” The etching depicts a group of ordinary Spanish people as they kneel on the roadside to pray while a donkey pulls a bier with a corpse in a strangely see-through coffin through the street. The donkey’s mute yet somehow knowing expression seems to reveal both the sincerity and futility of the people’s unquestioning faith.
This image was my inspiration.
The work is dedicated to Robert Blocker, Dean of the Yale School of Music.
Mayn Rue Plats (2020)
Morris Rosenfeld (b.1862 Russian Poland d.1923 New York City) was one of the “Sweat Shop Poets.” He described the brutal conditions of the garment industry in New York City, where he himself had worked

for years. In his poem “Mayn Rue Plats” (Yiddish for “My Resting Place”) Rosenfeld captured the dismal world of the modern industrial worker. If we seek the poet among the pleasures of youth, flowers, and singing birds, we are told, “you will not find me there.” He asks his beloved, if she loves him with a true love, “to make sweet” his resting place.
“Mayn Rue Plats” is the second of four works I have entitled “A Bitter Suite.” The original melody is taken from a traditional Yiddish folk song:
Don’t look for me where myrtles grow, You will not find me there, my beloved.
Where lives wither at the machines, There is my resting place.
Don’t look for me where birds sing, You will not find me there, my beloved.
A slave am I, where chains clang. There is my resting place.
And if you love me with true love, Then come to me, my good beloved,
And light up my gloomy heart, And make sweet my resting place.
A Message from the Emperor (2010)
In his short parable “A Message From the Emperor” Franz Kafka describes a glorious being, never seen by his countless lowly subjects, who, from his death bed, dispatches an indefatigable messenger (a prophet perhaps) with a most important message – just for you. For various practical reasons however the message cannot possibly be delivered. And even if it finally arrived the one who sent it will have died long ago.
We live on a small planet, circling a medium sized sun, in an ordinary galaxy, among an unimaginable number of other galaxies. We have lived here for millions of years, awaiting an explanation for this state of affairs. We dream of a great being, who at the last possible moment has sent someone with the message for which we, in the twilight of our days, have been so hopefully waiting. We are still waiting.

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RED NOTE BRESNICK reordered