Each January since 2010 we have had the privilege of exploring topics in forum and concert that expand the contexts in which we appreciate the great chamber music literature. With support from MIT Music and Theater Arts Faculty and the Goethe-Institut Boston we place this season’s concert and forum squarely into the center of the most current and American of contexts–exile, immigration, resettlement and re-invention. We chose to focus on composers exiled to Hollywood and outcasts in Southern California around the time of World War Two, because the impact of the products of these arrivals–on concert music, film, popular culture, and higher education–is more varied, visible, and vibrant when compared to other regions. Coincidentally, this history is the subject of two books published recently by Harvard University and Yale University Presses. It is also topic that has been lived in many ways by members of our audience, our community, and at least one of our member musicians, Ida Levin, who grew up in Southern California.
This topic finds particular resonance at MIT, where the Music program and faculty were established in the School of Humanities by a German émigré after World War Two, Klaus Liepmann (albeit not via the California cohort), and where award-winning film music historian Martin Marks extols the virtues of these composers, and more, for all to hear.
Needless to say, this topic and this repertoire, even for the great chamber music, are far larger than we can cover even in one BCMS season. As it is, we began our presentation of the music with the Schoenberg Chamber Symphony on our December concert, and will end in February with the playing of Dahl’s Concerto a Tre. We have selected the most enticing of rare gems through which to tell the story in song text, forum, and concert. (For audio clips of the pieces on our program click here.) We are grateful to Martin Marks for his January Independent Activities Period (IAP) subject on Film Noir that is complemented by regularly scheduled DVD screenings of entire films with music by many of these composers and more. The class also is scheduled to visit Harvard’s Sackler Museum to see the work of visual artists from this cohort. In February, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts will have a film complementary series. You can find information for all the surrounding events here.
We hope you will also find time to participate in our BCMS Trivia Quiz on Facebook focused on the lives, contributions and achievements of this extraordinary group of composers. We hope as well that you will find their chamber music to be among the finest, and worthy of the traditions that we continue.