Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
Academic Festival Overture ...... Brahms
Symphony No 2 in B Minor ...... Borodin
In 1880, the University of Breslau made Brahms a Doctor of Philosophy, and this Overture was a graceful recognition of the honour. The title may sound rather solemn, but the Overture is one of the gayest pieces of music Brahms wrote. It is scored for Full Orchestra, with plenty of 'percussion'- Kettle Drums, Big Drum, Cymbals, and Triangle.
The chief themes are all well-known German students' songs. Some of them are familiar also to us in England.
There are four such popular tunes in the Overture. It starts with an original theme, followed by another tune (also Brahms's own) and a return of the first melody. This is worked up a little, and then a few bars of soft music introduce the first main tune, rather like a hymn-tune, played by Trumpets. This is known as The Stately House.
The next tune is a livelier one - The Father of his Country.
The third tune is the Freshman's Song (dating from the early eighteenth century), which is humorously blurted out. The full orchestra takes it up, the instruments joining in in turn, as a scattered company of students coming home from a jollification might do.
The last tune to be used is Gaudeamus igitur, known to University students the world over.
National Orchestra of