March 15, 2016 --
The Marine Chamber Orchestra, led by Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig, will take part in the National Gallery of Art’s four-day 75th anniversary commemoration with performances at noon and 2 p.m., Friday, March 18 in the West Garden Court in the West Building. The program will highlight the connections between music and art as well as works from that important time in American history.
On March 7, 1941, the Marine Band performed at the dedication of the National Gallery of Art, and regular concerts took place there during World War II when the first director, David E. Finley, kept the Gallery open on Sunday nights to accommodate the armed forces personnel who were in Washington at the time. The program on March 18 will feature Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, which was penned for the 1941 British film Dangerous Moonlight and Aaron Copland’s masterpiece Appalachian Spring was composed just a few years later and premiered at the nearby Library of Congress. One of the three classic Botticelli paintings that inspired Ottorino Respighi’s Trittico botticelliano presently hangs just a few feet away from where the Marine Chamber Orchestra will perform this special concert at the National Gallery.
The same year the Marine Band helped dedicate the National Gallery of Art, English composer Richard Addinsell completed the score to Dangerous Moonlight (later renamed Suicide Squadron in the U.S.), which told the story of both romance and national struggle during the Nazi air raids and invasion of Poland during the war. In the film, the main character is a Polish pianist and composer named Stefan who joins the war effort as a fighter pilot. During the course of the film he also develops a romance with an American reporter named Carol, and all the while he is composing a concerto to symbolize the struggle of the Polish people to preserve Warsaw. This musical work also comes to represent the budding relationship between the two amidst the turmoil. The producers originally wanted to use the second piano concerto of the great Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff for this pivotal musical centerpiece of the film, but that proved prohibitively expensive, and so Addinsell was enlisted to create a new work in the style of the Russian master. The result was his Warsaw Concerto, a nine-minute movement for piano and orchestra that is “composed” and performed throughout the film and whose themes are also present within the rest of the score. Although it was a work intended from the start to simply channel Rachmaninoff for the purposes of the dramatic arc of the film, it has forged a life of its own and ensures that the name Addinsell will be remembered for generations to come.
Concerts at the National Gallery are open to the public, free of charge. Audience is admitted on a first-come, first-served basis 30 minutes before the concert begins. Limited seating is provided for those who cannot stand. For further information, call (202) 842-6941. The National Gallery of Art is located at 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Washington, D.C. For parking information, visit www.nga.gov or call (202) 842-6450.