The program for to-night's concert in the Sanders Theatre Series is full of originality, and should be especially interesting to Harvard men, The Boston Symphony Orchestra will play works by Haydn, Loeffler, and Piston. Beethoven's Fifth was to be last on the program, but instead our own Head of the Music Department, Professor Piston, will wind up the show by conducting his greatest (and only) symphony. Last year this symphony was played for the first time, and was a great success.
Loeffler's "A Pagan Poem" is of special interest also. From 1885 and 1903 he lived in this vicinity and held a post as second principal violin in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, after which he resigned to devote himself to composition. He was born in Mulhouse, Alsace, in 1861, coming to America as a young composer-violinist. He is one of the earliest exponents of Impressionism in America, but his feeling for melodic line is too strong to identify him exclusively with this French school. He exerts in his writing a fascinating play of orchestral color and unusual rhythmic invention. His harmonies are bold and original; the dissonances resulting from free polyphony rather than arbitrary use of discord for its own sake. "A Pagan Poem" shows the composer mystic, idyllic even macabre. The modal atmosphere often felt in his music is the result of a strong impression made on him by the Russian liturgy with which he grew familiar as a young man visiting in Russia.
"A Pagan Poem" was originally a chamber work first performed in 1901. The orchestral version was not bought out until 1907. Inspiration of the work comes from the eighth Eclogue of Virgil, the subject of which consists of two love songs sung by Damon and Alphesiboeus. The poetic basis is found in the second love song in which a Thessalian girl has restored to magic incantations in hope that she may bring back here truant lover Daphnis. As she chants, she repeats again and again, "Ducite ab urbe domum, mea carmina, ducite Daphnim." (Draw from the city, my songs, draw Daphne home"). This refrain is very effectively entoned by three trumpets behind the scenes.
The concert is to open with Haydn's Symphony No. 86 in D major, one of the "Paris Symphonies" composed about 1786. Owing to some indisposition of Dr. Koussevitzky's, little Richard Burgin, Concert Master of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, will conduct both the music of Loffler and Haydn.