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Chamber Music Series: Chamber ensembles from "The President's Own" will perform a concert Oct. 17, 2021 at 2 p.m. ET.

Photo by United States Marine Band

Chamber Concert: Composers Who Immigrated to the U.S. During WWII

15 Oct 2021 | Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali United States Marine Band

The 2021 Fall Chamber Series continues at 2 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 17. The performance, coordinated by clarinetist Staff Sgt. Lewis Gilmore, will stream live online and take place in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C. This is a free, non-ticketed event. If attending in person, please note that seating will be limited and masks and COVID vaccination are required at all concerts.

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“This concert focuses on four composers who were forced to immigrate to the United States during World War II— Ingolf Dahl, Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, and Bohuslav Martinů,” Gilmore said. “And in addition to contributing new works once they were in the U.S., they also made great impacts on the future of American music through their influence in education and pop culture.”

Gilmore explained: “Ingolf Dahl moved to Los Angeles in 1939 to escape Nazi persecution and quickly joined the circle of composers there, which already included Igor Stravinsky and Darius Milhaud. Dahl became a U.S. citizen in 1944, the same year he wrote Music for Brass Instruments. Milhaud composed the Suite for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano just a few years before fleeing France for California in 1940, and Bohuslav Martinů fled through Europe in several stops before coming to New York in 1941 and composing Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Cello and Piano.”

The concert concludes with Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat, or “Soldier’s Tale,” composed in Switzerland in 1918, less than ten years after the premières of his ballets that made him world famous, and 20 years before he eventually moved to the U.S. in 1941, settling in Los Angeles where he lived for most of the rest of his life.

“I first heard Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale performed by my former teacher when I was a young clarinet student,” Gilmore said. “It was instantly something I would always want to play, and every time I’ve been to a performance or played it myself since then, it only gets better. It’s like a great book, I just want to listen to it over and over again!”

He offered the following about the concert: “Some of my favorite music in the world comes from the first half of the 20th century, and I wanted to showcase some of it by lesser known composers alongside Stravinsky. I think there is a misconception among audiences and performers alike when we see a concert advertised as ‘all 20th century’ pieces of music. There is a sense that it is contemporary—even though these pieces are all over 70 years old—and that they may be ‘difficult’ to listen to. The Dahl features typical brass fanfares, but also has one movement based around a Baroque chorale melody that features beautiful lyricism and another that sounds decidedly like Copland-esque Americana. The Milhaud is full of the jazz-inspired joy that is a hallmark of his music, and is scored for the same trio of instruments that Stravinsky had arranged Soldier’s Tale for a few years earlier. The Martinů easily stands up as a wonderful addition to the piano quartet repertoire, but this time featuring an oboe in place of one of the strings. It is a lovely evolution in the lineage of Czech piano quartets by Antonín Dvořák and Josef Suk, and sounds unmistakably romantic. The Stravinsky is clearly programmatic since it was originally written as a fully staged work, but like many of his compositions, the music itself paints the story of a soldier, the devil, and a violin all on its own. From marching to daydreaming to dancing, it is a perfect example of how many small vignettes can be woven together to take the audience on a journey, with plenty of quirky and virtuosic playing in the musical language that is instantly recognizable as Stravinsky. I hope this combination of music will not only feature composers or works that may be unfamiliar to audiences, but also encourage them to take a second look at preconceived ideas about musical eras.”

The concert is free and open to the public. The Marine Barracks Annex is located at 1053 7th St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. Free parking is also available under the overpass on 7th Street, across from the Annex. Please allow extra time for I.D. checks at the gate. Mask, vaccination and social distancing required.

Program & Notes