On Stage at Curtis

Graduation Recital by Pianist Alexander Ullman

A graduation recital by Alexander Ullman. piano. Alex is a native of Watford, England, and entered Curtis in 2009 for studies with Robert McDonald. His program:

Beethoven: Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”)
The Waldstein in this case was, to be precise, Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein of Vienna. He was a close friend and patron of Beethoven, who dedicated this sonata to him. This is a prime example of Beethoven’s “heroic” style in his middle period (app. 1804 -1812.), a style which did so much to change music forever. The Waldstein has entered popular culture in a number of venues; if you’re a fan of the TV series “Seinfeld,” the sonata plays a pivotal role in the “pez dispenser” episode.

Chopin: Mazurkas, Op. 24
Chopin was 26 when these four Mazurkas were published in 1836. It was a heady time for Chopin, who by now was widely celebrated for his performing virtuosity and his compositions. It is said that Chopin interpreted these Mazurkas a little differently every time he played them.

Chopin: Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 55, No. 2
This is the second of two Nocturnes from Chopin’s Opus 55 collection, written between 1842 and 1844, and dedicated to his pupil Jane Stirling. In all, Chopin composed 21 Nocturnes, expanding and popularizing this form that was invented by the Irish virtuoso John Field.

Chopin: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53
One of the most dashing and difficult of all Chopin’s short pieces, this “Heroic” polonaise is one of his most popular, and makes for a brilliant conclusion to a concert of piano music in the grand style.

Music Word of the Week: Mazurka
“A traditional Polish folk dance, named after the Mazurs, who lived in the plains known as Mazovia around Warsaw.”
(from the Oxford Dictionary of Music)

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