Music Can Bring Back a Thousand Memories

Have you ever experienced nostalgia hearing a piece of music? Perhaps you have “your” song with a sweetheart or recall songs from your graduation, prom, or first dance? Instantly the melody catapults us back to the time and place of a special gathering or event, to the friends or person we shared the memory with. I know you know the feeling.

A musician will often recall the place and time of an exceptional performance of a piece we performed. Who can forget the first time we played Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or the String Quartets? Within a few notes our memories take us right back onto that stage. The pieces that do that for me include extraordinary concerts of both chamber music and orchestral music. Permit me to go down chamber music memory lane.

There have been so many unforgettable occasions. I remember a Beethoven Archduke Trio concert; the first time I played Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D minor, and Brahms Piano Quintet—or actually anything Brahms— and also a memorable performance of the Schubert Trout Quintet with Lynn Harrell playing the second cello part (he insisted I play the first part!)

Contributor Janet Horvath playing the Schubert Quintet with Lynn Harrell

Playing the Schubert Quintet with Lynn Harrell

What stands out more than most is my time at the famed Marlboro Festival in Vermont.

A few days ago, I heard the Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat major Op. 44. I was instantly back to the summer at the Marlboro Festival in 1979. I remember the cabins we stayed in, the beautiful grounds of Potash Hill in the Green Mountains of Southern Vermont, the outstanding young musicians, the pranks we played, the concerts in “The Shed” and being intimidated by the illustrious older performers who coached and performed with us. I also have vivid memories of driving all the way from Indianapolis to the campus between Brattleboro and Wilmington, Vermont by myself in a Volkswagen Beetle (do you remember those?) much to my mother’s consternation!

Marlboro photo by Pete Checchia

Marlboro photo by Pete Checchia

In case you are not familiar with Marlboro Music, the festival “is known worldwide as an institution devoted to artistic excellence and to developing new leaders who illuminate all areas of music. It is where the concept of having master artists play together with exceptional young professionals was born—initiating a dynamic, collaborative approach to learning. Since 1951, generations of the world’s most respected musicians have come together to share their perspectives and learn from one another to inspire and be inspired. Marlboro was created by eminent pianist Rudolf Serkin—its artistic director until his death in 1991—and co-founders Adolf and Hermann Busch, and Marcel, Blanche, and Louis Moyse.”

Marlboro’s founders: Marcel Moyse, Louis Moyse, Rudolf Serkin, Blanche Moyse, Adolf Busch, Hermann Busch (with cellist Nathan Chaikin second from left)

Marlboro’s founders: Marcel Moyse, Louis Moyse, Rudolf Serkin, Blanche Moyse, Adolf Busch, Hermann Busch (with cellist Nathan Chaikin second from left)

A mecca for fine young musicians, it was my first time there and the first time I’d played the Schumann. I was nervous for our first rehearsal with the venerable violinist Felix Galimir. As soon as the cello enters with the famous melody that is traded off with viola in the first movement, he inhaled sharply hissing as if he was suffering immensely, “Ssss. Ahhh. Can’t you play in TUNE?!”

Felix Galimir and pianist Cecile Licad at Marlboro

Felix Galimir and pianist Cecile Licad at Marlboro

The second movement is unique: In modo d’una marcia—a melancholy dirge that is immediately followed by a sumptuous and tender contrasting section with long legato string lines. Heavenly. It leads without interruption to a quicker section during which the viola plays an ominous motif on a low C before the soaring melody returns.

Hang onto your hats as the Scherzo: Molto vivace is lilting with quick light staccato notes in all the parts, but like in other movements, Schumann adds a gorgeous melodic contrasting section. The finale is Allegro ma non troppo.

Schumann: Piano Quintet (Marlboro Music)

After hearing the Schumann, I couldn’t help myself and went to the website to search my name and the people I played with. And there it was!

Performances in which Janet Horvath participated.

Serenade in D Minor, Op. 44, B. 77Antonín Dvořák – (Cello) – July 7th, 1979

Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44Robert Schumann – (Cello) – July 18th, 1979

String Quintet in F Major, Op. 88Johannes Brahms – (Cello) – August 5th, 1979

In another group I also performed the charming and lovely Dvořák Serenade. Scored for winds and cello and bass, the piece will always be a favorite of mine as I am immediately transported to the joy of playing it that season with the wonderful musicians at Marlboro.

Antonin Dvořák: Serenade for Winds in D Minor, Op. 44 – IV. Finale: Allegro molto (Philharmonia Orchestra; Christopher Warren-Green, cond.)

During the summer the Marlboro artistic directors selected the musicians for the annual late-fall tour of the East coast in 1979. After the performance of the Serenade, I was called into the manager’s office and offered the cello spot with violinists Joseph Genualdi and Laurie Smukler, violist Ira Weller, and pianist Cecile Licad. Was I thrilled! The following ad may have musician’s names you might recognize.

The Marlboro Tour ad

The Marlboro Tour ad

The tour repertoire looms large in my heart, and it also appears on the Marlboro website.

Performances in which Janet Horvath participated.

Piano QuartetAaron Copland – (Cello) – 1979-80 Tour Program I

String Quartet in A Major, Op. 9, No. 6, Hob. III:24Joseph Haydn – (Cello) – 1979-80 Tour Program I

Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, B. 155Antonín Dvořák – (Cello) – 1979-80 Tour Program I

We performed in some of the most exhilarating and outstanding venues in the country including Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia. When I hear that opening cello melody of the Dvořák, I am taken way back to those heady days!

Antonin Dvořák: Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 – I. Allegro ma non tanto (Salvatore Accardo, violin; Margaret Batjer, violin; Toby Hoffman, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; Bruno Canino, piano)

The Alice Tully Hall program

The Alice Tully Hall program

Aaron Copland: Piano Quartet – II. Allegro giusto (Aaron Copland, piano; New York Quartet)

Things have changed at Marlboro since the 1970s. There are now several new buildings, including a beautiful music library, rehearsal spaces such as the Felix Galimir Rehearsal studio in the architecturally stellar Reich Building, a campus center complete with a coffee shop, Serkin Center for the Performing Arts, new concert venues, new cottages, a health center, and a gym. But the stellar music-making and brilliant personnel has not changed and continues to this day. Artistic Directors Jonathan Biss and Mitsuko Uchida are joined by 75 outstanding musicians, including Arnold Steinhardt and Nabuko Imai, and cellists Zlatomir Fung, Nancy Rosen, and Peter Wiley, among others. Don’t miss the experience of attending if you’re in the area.

It’s on my bucket list to return, this time as one of the hundreds of enthusiastic audience members who listen to open rehearsals and 5 weekly performances each summer, and of course, to revisit one thousand musical memories.

Felix Galimir rehearsal Studio

Felix Galimir rehearsal Studio

Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor Second Movement

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