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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Atterberg Piano Concerto

From:

Barry Brenesal <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 26 Mar 2000 08:52:04 EST

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (52 lines)

Barry Brenesal wrote:

>>As I recall, Atterberg also entered an international contest for the best
>>symphony, with a panel of judges that included Nielsen, Glazunov, and one
>>other--Casella or Respighi, perhaps? In any case, he won, only to announce
>>afterwards that he'd deliberately tailored the work to present qualities
>>that would appeal to just those judges.

Mats Norrman replied:

>A few things aren't exactly as I recall it here.  I have never heard that
>Glazunov was in the jury.  Though Nielsen was, and also Max von Schillings.
>In MA:s library there is a bunch of paper conatining the corresponace
>around the 6th symphony.  Columbias competition was announced to be in
>regard to Franz Schubert, and Atterberg has used Schubert as model for
>his symphony, this is especially apparent in the slow movement.

I just checked some sources on this; and the mention of Glazunov and
Nielsen is correct.  The jury for the Schubert Centenary competition is
listed as Glazunov, Nielsen, Tovey, and Damrosch.  There were 500 entries
from 26 countries.  Atterberg's Symphony #6 received the majority vote on
the basis of its "strength, beauty and nobility."

After Atterberg received the $10,000 check (and used it for an expensive
car), critics accused him of plagirizing bits and pieces from various 19th
century composers, most notably Schubert.  He responded, "It was written
partly in seriousness--for my heart--and partly as a joke--for my
conscience." This didn't exactly help matters, and provoked headlines about
the "$10,000 Symphonic Hoax." It was also bruited about that Atterberg had
deliberately incorporated the musical styles of Nielsen and Glazunov to
garner their votes.

Columbia asked Atterberg to deny it all, but he in turn stated to the
press that the last movement had been written as a satire "on those people
connected with the Centenary who posed as great lovers and connoisseurs of
Schubert without love or knowledge of his works."

In retrospect, there appears to be nothing at all worth condemning in
Atterberg's Symphony #6.  It makes reference to what could best be termed
cells of other composer's music--and that, only occasionally.  This is tame
stuff, compared to the deliberate quotation of earlier styles and composers
which has become standard fare in some retro-classical music; and few
people take exception to a talented modern like Rochberg or Bolcom donning
another age's cloth and attitude.  The Symphony itself remains, an
excellent example of Atterberg's art.  Would more was recorded.

One final note:  the furor died down with time, but the faint sulfuric
odor which lingered about Atterberg and his nose-thumbing never did quite
go away.  And for all their handwringing, Columbia sold 25,000 4-disc sets
of the symphony worldwide, as a result:  not a bad figure for the time.

Barry Brenesal

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