Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited
by Fred Flaxman

©2014 by Fred Flaxman

Program 230
"The Taming of the Shrew"

MUSIC: excerpt from Cole Porter’s: Kiss Me Kate: Brush Up Your Shakespeare sung by Lee Wilkof and Michael Mulheren from the 1999 Broadway cast revival recording [DRG Theater 12988, Track 17]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. For the next hour we’re going to brush up our Shakespeare, concentrating on music inspired by just one of his plays: “The Taming of the Shrew.” We’ll hear Taming of the Shrew overtures by Johan Wagenaar, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Hermann Goetz. Then we’ll listen to an excerpt from Vittorio Giannini’s opera called The Taming of the Shrew. And finally we’ll hear songs from Cole Porter’s musical, Kiss Me Kate, which was based on — you guessed it — The Taming of the Shrew. Except for the Cole Porter, I think most, if not all, of the rest of the music in this hour will be Compact Discoveries for you, as it was for me.

Johan Wagenaar, who lived from 1862 until 1941, was a Dutch composer and organist. The most interesting thing I could find out about him was that he was born out of wedlock to an aristocratic father and a mother of more humble origins. This difference in social standing explains why his parents didn’t marry and why the future composer received his mother’s family name, not his father’s.  But he was evidently not neglected by his father, and when he showed talent for music as a child, he was given instruction in piano, organ, violin, theory, and composition, although all this took place only after the age of 13.

Wagenaar’s compositions include operas, cantatas, organ music, and orchestral works.  His Taming of the Shrew Overture, Opus 25, dates from 1909. In this CPO compact disc from Germany, the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie is conducted by Antony Hermus.

MUSIC:
Wagenaar: The Taming of the Shrew Overture, performed by the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie conducted by Antony Hermus [CPO 777 479-2, track 1]  [7:22]

Johan Wagenaar’s Overture to The Taming of the Shrew. Antony Hermus conducted the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie.

You are listening to music inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the program timing]

The Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote 11 overtures inspired by the plays of William Shakespeare, starting, in fact, with The Taming of the Shrew in 1930. I think it was these overtures that gave me the idea of doing a series of Compact Discoveries programs based on the music inspired by the Bard of Avon.

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was born in Florence, Italy, in 1895. He was a descendent of a prominent banking family that had lived in the city since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Even before the fascist Italian government promulgated the Italian Racial Laws in 1938, Castelnuovo-Tedesco was banned from the radio and performances of his work were cancelled. Those new laws convinced him that he should leave Italy. He wrote to the famous Italian conductor, Arturo Toscanini, who had left Italy in 1933, explaining his plight, and Toscanini responded by promising to sponsor him as an immigrant in the United States. Castelnuovo-Tedesco left Italy in 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II.

Like many musicians who fled fascism, Castelnuovo-Tedesco ended up in Hollywood where he worked as a film composer for the next 15 years, working on the scores for some 200 films. He was a significant influence on other major film composers, including Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, Herman Stein, and André Previn.  Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams were his pupils.

Well I’ll tell you lots more about Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco when I do other programs using his music, but now let’s listen to his overture to The Taming of the Shrew with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Penny from a Naxos compact disc.

MUSIC:
Castelnuovo-Tedesco: The Taming of the Shrew Overture, Op. 61, performed by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Penny [Naxos 8.572500, Track 2]  [9:22]

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s overture, The Taming of the Shrew.  The West Australian Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Andrew Penny.

You are listening to music inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the program timing]

The German composer, Hermann Gustav Goetz, born in 1840, was the son of a salesman, but he came into contact with music early in his life. He began to study for a degree in mathematics, but stopped after three terms to switch to the Stern Music Conservatory in Berlin. He graduated in 1862 and the following year was appointed as city organist of Winterthur in Switzerland, where he moved. In the last years of his life, Goetz had to stop teaching and concert performances due to the increasing seriousness of his tuberculosis. He devoted those years to composing. He died at the age of 35.

Goetz wrote an entire opera based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.  The conductor Felix Weingartner found it “incomprehensible” that this “delightful opera comique … should have entirely disappeared from the repertoire.”  But a complete recording of it is available in a two-CD set on the Profil label from Germany. The original analog recording was made in 1955, so I’m afraid the sound is not the state-of-the-art we’re used to today. We’ll play the overture from that opera recording now as performed by the Bavarian Radio Orchestra conducted by Joseph Keilberth.

MUSIC:
Goetz: The Taming of the Shrew Overture, performed by the Bavarian Radio Orchestra conducted by Joseph Keilberth [Profil DCD PH07007, CD 1, Track 1]  [5:42]

The Taming of the Shrew overture from the opera by Hermann Goetz. The Bavarian Radio Orchestra was conducted by Joseph Keilberth on this 1955 recording which was reissued on CDs in 2006 on the Profil label.

Don’t let the name of our next composer fool you. It couldn’t be more Italian. But Vittorio Giannini could not have been more American.  He was born in Philadelphia, after all, in 1903, and he died in New York City in 1966. In between he wrote neoromantic operas, songs, symphonies, and band works. He composed his opera, The Taming of the Shrew, in 1950, and the complete opera is still available on a 1996 Composers Recordings two-CD set. It was made by the Kansas City Lyric Theater conducted by Russell Patterson.  We’ll hear “Bianca, my love” from Act 2, Scene 1 at the end of Disc One.

MUSIC: Giannini: excerpt from Act 11, Scene 1 of The Taming of the Shrew: “Bianca, my love,” performed by Kansas City Lyric Theater conducted by Russell Patterson. [New World CRI 272, CD 1, Track 9]  [9:54]

“Bianca, my love” from Act 2, Scene 1 of Vittorio Giannini’s opera, The Taming of the Shrew.

Another American composer, a contemporary of Giannini’s, who was inspired by The Taming of the Shrew was Cole Porter, who based his musical, “Kiss Me Kate,” on that same Shakespeare comedy. It was originally presented on Broadway in 1948, two years before Giannini wrote his opera on the same theme. And, I have to admit, Cole Porter’s version became a bit more popular.

We’ll listen to as many songs as we can get in the rest of this one-hour program, all drawn from the 1999 Broadway revival recording on the DRG Theater label, starting with “I Hate Men.”

MUSIC:
Cole Porter: “I Hate Men” from Kiss Me Kate, sung by Marin Mazzie [DRG Theater 12988, track 8]  [3:27]

MUSIC:
Cole Porter: “So In Love” from Kiss Me Kate, sung by Marin Mazzie [DRG Theater 12988, track 4]  [4:15]

MUSIC:
Cole Porter: “Always True to You (In My Fashion)” from Kiss Me Kate, sung by Amy Spanger [DRG Theater 12988, track 14]  [5:14]

MUSIC:
Cole Porter: “Kiss Me, Kate” from Kiss Me Kate, sung by Kevin Neil McCready, Marin Mazzie, and the Ensemble [DRG Theater 12988, track 11]  [2:52]

Music from the 1999 Broadway revival of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate. “I Hate Men” and “So In Love” were sung by by Marin Mazzie;  “Always True to You (in My Fashion)” was sung by Amy Spanger; “Kiss Me Kate” was sung by Kevin Neil McCready, Marin Mazzie, and the Ensemble.

You have been listening to music inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. If you missed any of this program or would like to hear it again, you can stream it on demand without charge at compactdiscoveries.com. You can also see the script there for information on every recording used. This is program number 230.  You can reach me through the website or directly at fred@compactdiscoveries.com. I truly enjoy hearing from listeners all over the world who hear the program either on their local public radio station or via the SKY.FM Compact Discoveries Channel on the internet. In any case, thank you for listening now, and I hope you’ll tune in again. This is Fred Flaxman, your guide to Compact Discoveries.

MUSIC:
excerpt from Cole Porter’s: Kiss Me Kate: "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" sung by Lee Wilkof and Michael Mulheren from the 1999 Broadway cast revival recording [DRG Theater 12988, Track 17]

ANNOUNCER
(Tana Flaxman): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz. And by ArkivMusic dot com, the online store for classical music CDs, DVDs, downloads, and over 10,000 on-demand reissued titles. That’s A-r-k-i-v Music dot com.

Program Ends at 58:00