Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
: presenting music from the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
The first Saturday of each month from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on WRTI 90.1 FM. Hosted by Kile Smith, former Curator of the Fleisher Collection, and Jack Moore, Program Director of WRTI. Encore presentations of the entire Discoveries series every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. on WRTI-HD2
In Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, we uncover the unknown, rediscover the little-known, and take a fresh look at some of the remarkable treasures housed in the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music, at the Parkway Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The Fleisher Collection is the largest lending library of orchestral performance material in the world.
Saturday, October 3rd, 2015, 5:00-6:00 p.m.
He won two Pulitzer Prizes; taught composers as disparate as Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, and Leroy Anderson; and his books on harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration continue to be used by composers today.
A sailor named Pistone came to the United States from Italy, changed his name to Piston, and in 1894 his grandson Walter was born in Rockland, Maine. Piston's father, Walter Sr., moved the family to Boston when Walter Jr. was 11, and the son showed musical promise from an early age. He played violin for dance bands and for groups led by Georges Longy, one of the most influential musicians in Boston. Longy was principal oboist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conductor of his own groups, advocate of wind ensemble literature, friend to contemporary composers, and founder of the Longy School of Music.
In 1920 Piston enrolled at Harvard University, and upon graduation he went to Paris on a John Knowles Paine Traveling Fellowship, where he studied composition with Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas and violin with Georges Enescu. He returned to Harvard in 1926, where he taught for the rest of his career.
Awards and acknowledgements would continue for the rest of his life. He wrote music for CBS Radio. In 1938 Piston composed a ballet, The Incredible Flutist, for the Boston Pops, and the suite he later made from this has become his most famous work. The Symphony No. 2 won the New York Music Critics' Circle Award, and the Symphony No. 3, in 1948, won the Pulitzer. As if that weren't enough, he won that most prestigious of prizes again in 1961, for his Symphony No. 7, commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1960, the year he retired from Harvard.
It was a long way from his Suite for Orchestra, but even that early work from 1929 was com-posed for the Boston Symphony. Piston wrote Three New England Sketches, a work most concert-goers will know, in 1959 for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its imaginative conductor Paul Paray.
His music is a study in craft and elegance. It is smart, clear, direct, and seemingly effortless, rising above fashion without display, in the way that everything in art that is good and lasting rises.
You can hear Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection on WRTI 90.1 FM Philadelphia, 97.7 Reading, 97.1 Allentown, WJAZ 91.7 Harrisburg, 90.7 York, WRTL 90.7 Lancaster Ephrata Lebanon, WRTY 91.1 Mount Pocono, 94.9 Wilkes-Barre, 99.1 Pottsville, 106.1 Scranton, WRTQ 91.3 Ocean City, WRTX 91.7 Dover, and on the web at www.wrti.org.