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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Boston Symphony Orchestra

Canadian Brass, Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

In 1989, the Canadian Brass were joined by the principal players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic for a series of legendary concerts.

I was lucky enough to see this concert when it came to Tanglewood in July of 1989. It was a day that changed my life.

I had recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. As a part of becoming an Eagle Scout, you get to spend the day with someone who is working in the field you hope to pursue. Upon receiving the request, Chester Schmitz, the tuba player of the BSO, agreed to let me tag along for a day.

Imagine my elation as a 14-year-old when the day he suggested was the Brass Spectacular concert at Tanglewood that would involve the likes of Phil Smith, Joe Alessi, Chuck Dallenbach, Fred Mills, etc! I can still remember getting the phone call from him. I almost dropped the phone.

He very graciously introduced me to almost every one of the players in this video as if he had known me for years. It really was one of those experiences for a young boy that vaulted me forward with enthusiasm for music.

Chester and I have remained friends to this day. I could never repay him for how kind he was to me that day over 25 years ago.

I didn't know this video existed and am ecstatic to be able to witness this lineup again. This is as good as it gets.


Boston Symphony Orchestra Plays a Chilling Tribute to JFK the Afternoon of his Assassination

Andrew Hitz

Music is more powerful than any of us could ever put into words.  When trying to either convey my own emotions or understand someone else's, I always turn to music. I will never forget seeing the Boston Symphony Orchestra play Mahler's 2nd Symphony in tribute to Leonard Bernstein on the opening night at Tanglewood the summer after he passed away.  There were people crying in the audience and players holding back tears on stage.  That performance expressed what could not be expressed in words, exactly how much Bernstein had meant to the Boston Symphony, to Tanglewood and to American music.

This clip is one of the most chilling I've ever heard.  It is from an afternoon concert of the Boston Symphony on November 22, 1963, one of the most infamous days in American history.  Long before every concertgoer had the internet in their pockets, news was not dispersed to people out and about.  You were either next to a TV, a radio or a wired phone.  As a result, the audience at Symphony Hall that afternoon did not know that President Kennedy had died from gunshot wounds suffered in Dallas.

Music director Erich Leinsdorf addresses the crowd at the beginning of the concert and breaks the news to them.  The audible gasps of panic, confusion and sadness are haunting.  They then play possibly the most passionate performance of the funeral march from Beethoven 3 that's ever been played.

But words do this clip justice.  You need to hear it for yourself.

Also, be sure to check out this story from Time Magazine which includes comments from the librarian that day.  He has not been able to bring himself to listen to the above performance even once in the last 50 years.  Incredible stuff.