LANSDOWNE

SYMPHONY

ORCHESTRA

Howard Hanson Serenade Program Notes

Nebraska  native  Howard  Hanson  was  a  gifted  composer,  with  three  beautiful  symphonies,  an  opera  Merry  Mount  that  received  its  premiere  at  the  Metropolitan  Opera,  and  many  other  smaller  pieces,  such  as  this  Serenade,  for  flute,  harp  and  strings.    He  wrote  it  in  his  late  forties,  as  a  proposal  to  the  future  Mrs.  Hanson,  who  he’d  met  at  Chataqua  in  upstate  New  York.    By  this  time  he’d  been  Dean  of  the  Eastman  School  of  Music  for  over  twenty  years  (having  been  appointed  by  George  Eastman,  of  Kodak-Eastman).    From  his  perch,  he  was  able  to  conduct  orchestras  at  the  School,  making  recordings  of  some  American  works  that  are  still  the  only  ones  available.    He  was  involved  with  UNESCO,  the  UN’s  international  cultural  organization,  and  built  the  Eastman  school  into  one  of  the  country’s’  strongest.  Gentle,  rising  pentatonic  scales  give  way  to  stronger  emotions,  with  a  progression  of  reflective  moods.    One  highlight  of  the  piece  is  the  string  pizzicato,  with  the  harp  creates  a  ginormous  kind  of  guitar  sound,  the  flute  soloing  over  it.    So  effective  is  this  material  that  Hanson  returns  to  it  before  a  luxuriant  coda.