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Promenade Concert

on National Programme Daventry

View in Radio Times

Relayed from THE QUEEN'S HALL, LONDON (Sole Lessees, Messrs. Chappell and Co., Ltd.)
MAY BLYTH
IRENE SCHARRER
THE B.B.C. SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
(Principal First Violin, CHARLES WOODHOUSE )
Conducted by SIR HENRY WOOD
SMETANA was an intensely national composer, and Prague was his centre. In that city he produced eight operas, written on Czech subjects and based upon Czech music. Of these The Bartered Bride is the most famous ; it is, in fact, one of the world's finest comic operas. It was written nearly eighty years ago, and though for all that time it had been extremely popular in mid-Europe, only in recent years has the opera been performed in England with any degree of success. We now know a good deal of Smetana's music, and ho has already taken his proper rank in our appreciation. It is not so many years ago, however, that his name was so little known that nobody knew quite how to pronounce it. We were instructed, if memory serves, by Hans Richter : 'Do not pronounce it this way,' he would say, singing a well-known passage in the Leonora overture, ' but this way,' and he would bellow the name Smetana to the three-note motif of the Scherzo from the Ninth Symphony.
This overture was known to English audiences for many years before any other part of the opera was heard. The rhythmic rush of the canonic string passages with which the overture opens is one of the most irresistibly sparkling passages in all music, and the whole overture is the gayest thing imaginable.
RICHARD STRAUSS , for all his rebel instincts and his youthful bludgeon blows at comfortable conventions, prides himself on being as domesticated and home-loving a man as could bo found in all Germany. To prove it he wrote The Domestic Symphony, in which he musically recorded a day in the life of himself and his family, and made us free of the most intimate situations.
Intermezzo, an opera, is another of Strauss's intimate domestic revelations. Faintly disguised, the characters of the opera are said to be himself, his family, and his friends. Husband and wife are out of humour with one another. He goes off to Vienna to play ' Skat ' (a German card-game that looks like a free fight) with his friends ; she takes to the seaside and a mild flirtation. The plot develops with an incredily mild attempt at intrigue and involves no more stir than the storm in the tea-cup. There are many orchestral numbers in the opera, and the titles of the excerpts played tonight explain themselves as fully as need be.
THE broadcast of this Promenade Concert, which opens with Smetana, closes appropriately with his compatriot and contemporary, Dvorak. While Smetana was essentially a composer whose ideals were definitely national, Dvorak was national only in the sense that he based his wider idiom on national characteristics. An analogy has been drawn between Smetana and Dvorak in Bohemia, and Glinka and Tchaikovsky in Russia, Dvorak bearing the same relation to the outside world as did Tchaikovsky. ' If we compare Dvorak's melody with that of Smetana and with that of the Bohemian Folk-songs,' says Sir Henry Hadow , in his Studies in Modern Music,' 'we shall find a notable resemblance of thought and feeling ; they are all of one family, of one kindred, connected by a sympathy that the widest distinctions of treatment cannot annul. No doubt Smetana is often content to reproduce the methods of the Folk-song, while in Dvorak the curves are made richer and the designs more complex and beautiful.' The New World Symphony is Dvorak's fifth, and the most popular. Indeed, outside the recognized ultra-classical symphonies, it is perhaps the most popular of all.

Contributors

Unknown:
May Blyth
Unknown:
Irene Scharrer
Violin:
Charles Woodhouse
Conducted By:
Sir Henry Wood
Unknown:
Hans Richter
Unknown:
Richard Strauss
Unknown:
Sir Henry Hadow

National Programme Daventry

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National Programme is a radio channel that started transmitting on the 9th March 1930 and ended on the 9th September 1939. It was replaced by BBC Home Service.

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