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Classics Outdoors 2022

Saturday 16 July 2022
Poltimore House,
Poltimore, Exeter

Classics Outdoors 2022

The Thieving Magpie - Rossini

Rodeo Suite - Copland

March of the Toreadors from Carmen - Bizet

Stars and Stripes forever - Sousa

Radetsky March - Strauss

Pirates of the Caribbean - Badelt

The Lord of the Dance - Hardiman

Doors open at 12 noon, so why not grab blanket or rug, pack yourself a scrummy picnic basket and make an afternoon of it. We look forward to seeing you there!

To open Classics Outdoors this year we look to Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) and his ever-popular Overture to La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie) with its opening, attention-getting drum roll. The opera was commissioned for La Scala, Milan in 1817, but it seems that the multi-talented young Italian, who had published his first composition aged 12 and ultimately wrote 39 overtures, was known for delaying to the eleventh-hour; the conductor of the première allegedly had to lock him in the opera house overnight to ensure its completion! 

Aaron Copland (1900-1990) grew up in Brooklyn around a century later and, despite his Lithuanian heritage, came to be regarded as the Dean of American Composers. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression he adopted a deliberately accessible style which evoked the American landscape and pioneering spirit, and produced (among many other works) four Dance Episodes from Rodeo. The original ballet’s Metropolitan Opera House première in 1942 elicited 22 curtain calls and certainly belied Copland’s initial reluctance to compose yet “another cowboy ballet”!  

Georges Bizet (1838-1875) entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the tender age of 9 years and won many prizes as a pianist; he was influenced by Gounod and Saint-Saëns, but later focused on opera having met Rossini. He enjoyed early success, but breaking conventions with (what turned out to be) his last opera gave him a real public profile. The first audiences were shocked – the eponymous Spanish heroine is, after all, an amoral seductress – and he was mistakenly convinced it would fail. In fact the opera soon became a spectacular, eventually worldwide success. Our selection from the Carmen Suite No 1 showcases its most memorable themes.

Our next piece is similarly enduring. Johann Strauss Snr (1804-1849) composed his Radetzky March to commemorate victory at the 1848 Battle of Custoza, but it has since become a much-loved unofficial Austrian national anthem and a regimental quick march for, among others, the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards of the British Army. It is also instantly recognisable from the annual New Year’s Day Concert in Vienna, when its foot-tapping rhythms almost invariably demand an encore.

Finally, while you’re in the mood for marching, we hope that the Stars & Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa will maintain the pace before we come right up to date with Pirates of the Caribbean by Klaus Badelt and The Lord of the Dance by Ronan Hardiman.