An Austrian native, Ernst Toch spent his early career in Germany, until forced to flee the Nazis in the 1930s. He naturalized as an American citizen in 1940, and eventually settled on the West Coast. His later works emphasize the orchestra and include 7 symphonies between 1951 and 1964. Notturno, which was a Louisville Orchestra commission, is representative of his mature style. A single movement in three-part form, it suggests caprice and mystery, treating the orchestra with delicacy and imagination. Pay attention to the only percussion instrument, a xylophone. It plays an important role!

Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Concerto for Violin, Op. 35 is the quintessential neo-romantic showpiece. More than 75 years ago, this underrated concerto heralded Korngold’s return to serious concert music after a successful career composing many of Hollywood’s greatest film scores.  Korngold based the concerto on themes from his movie music, but developed them in a purely classical style, giving the work the appeal of movie music within a classical idiom.  His Concerto became a favorite of the legendary Jascha Heifetz; in fact, the slow movement Romance was designed to show off Heifetz’s lyricism. Korngold’s rondo finale opens with a bang and closes with a burst of fireworks.

Nathaniel Dett devoted his career to the study of spirituals and other music of the formerly enslaved Americans. Educated primarily at Oberlin College-Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music, he was a seminal figure in education at historically Black colleges and left a significant imprint on the musical life of the institutions where he taught. The Ordering of Moses originated as his Master’s thesis in composition at Eastman; however, Dett continued to revise it for a number of years afterward. It was warmly received at its Cincinnati premiere in May 1937 and is enjoying a rediscovery in the 21st century. The libretto addresses the Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea under Moses’s leadership, the doomed fate of the pursuing Egyptians, and the rejoicing of the Israelite people after their deliverance. The spiritual “Go Down, Moses” figures prominently in the score, which is poignant, dramatic, and cinematic in scope.