The Born Identity

by Gerald Carpenter

THE ACADEMY KNOWS BEST: Today, Thursday, July
13, is Community Welcome Day at the Music Academy of the West’s
Miraflores campus. All the events are free. (For a complete Music
Academy schedule, check your program booklet, call the box office
at 969-8787, or visit their well-designed Web site at
www.musicacademy.org.)

Also on Thursday, the Academy young artists will play a free
Community Concert (2 p.m.) at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, a
free Chamber Music Sampler (7:30 p.m.) in Lehmann Hall at
Miraflores, as well as one of its spectacular Picnic Concerts the
next night, Friday, July 14, at 7:30 p.m., in Abravanel Hall (not
free).

Select Academy vocal students will perform Opera Scenes at 2
p.m. this Saturday, July 15, in Abravanel Hall, under the stage
direction of Lotfi Mansouri and the musical
direction of Warren Jones. (The scenes will be
repeated at 7:30 p.m. next Monday, July 17.)

At 8 p.m. that same evening, in the Lobero Theatre,
Michael Stern will conduct the Academy Festival
Orchestra in a performance of two very different works:
Wolfgang Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D
Major, K. 218
, with David Halen as violin
soloist, and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in
C-sharp Minor
.

The 4th movement “Adagietto” of Mahler’s Symphony was
probably the most widely admired piece of the composer’s work
during his lifetime and for several decades after his death — until
Leonard Bernstein began the Mahler revival with
performances and recordings in honor of the 100-year anniversary of
his birth, in 1960. The movement was frequently excerpted and
performed without the proper frame of the other four movements. The
“Adagietto” reached its apotheosis in 1971, when Luchino
Visconti
used it as the main music for his film of the
Thomas Mann novella, Death in Venice,
written 1911, the year Mahler died.

Visconti turned the writer Von Aschenbach into a composer, and
invented a new character, Alfred, who was clearly based on
Schoenberg — the composer’s uncompromising musical conscience. He
had no doubt read Mann’s letter to the artist Wolfgang
Born
, who had done nine prints for an illustrated version
of the novella in 1922. Mann was astonished that the artist had
made Von Aschenbach look just like Mahler, when Mann, in fact, “not
only gave him the great musician’s Christian name, but also in
describing his appearance conferred Mahler’s mask upon him. I felt
sure that given so loose and hidden a connection there could be no
question of recognition by readers.” He had told no one, yet Born
had intuited it. Visconti, in a further sly twist, made up his Von
Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) to look not like Mahler
but Thomas Mann himself.

For the past two weeks the Academy faculty have been mentoring
young local musicians in the MERIT program, and this Sunday, July
16, the MERIT student ensembles offer a free Community Concert (2
p.m.) in Lehmann Hall.

The next Tuesdays at Eight concert, July 18, in the Lobero, will
begin with the duet “Bei Mannern Welche Liebefühlen” from Mozart’s
opera The Magic Flute, sung by young vocal artists, with
the magic piano of Anne Epperson backing them up,
followed by Ludwig Beethoven’s Seven
Variations
on the same tune played by Epperson and cellist
Alan Stepansky. After that, Epperson, Stepansky,
and violinist Kathleen Winkler — who is certainly
on a roll this season — will leave Mozart behind and plunge into
the murky, romantic glories of Robert Schumann’s Piano Trio No.
2 in F Major, Opus 80
. The evening will conclude with
violinist Jeff Thayer and pianist Jonathan
Feldman
performing Leos Janácˇek’s
Violin Sonata; flautist Timothy Day,
oboist David Weiss, clarinetist Fred
Ormond
, bassoonist Benjamin Kamins,
hornist David Jolley, and pianist Feldman will
also perform the delightful hit by the quintessential one-hit
wonder, Ludwig Thuille, his Sextet for Piano
and Winds in B-flat Major, Opus 6
.

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