Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2004 and 2007 by Fred Flaxman
Program 55
"James Brooks-Bruzzese"

MUSIC: Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 5 with the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra conducted by James Brooks-Bruzzese [Maduro Muziekstichting MCD 06, track 8] [under the following]

The music in the background was written by a German composer, Johannes Brahms. But it is not a German dance. It is his Hungarian Dance No. 5. It is performed here by the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, but they were not recorded in Hungary. They were recorded at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They were conducted by James Brooks-Bruzzese, who was born in Panama in a bilingual home. His mother was from Colombia. His father was in the U.S. Armed Forces.

And there you have it - the international, multicultural world of classical music - perhaps the first evidence of our modern global economy.

MUSIC: Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 5 ends

Hi and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. And in this hour we are going to explore the international world of James Brooks-Bruzzese, the conductor of the Symphony of the Americas, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as he guest conducts other orchestras on compact discs.

For example, let's get started right away with Maestro Brooks-Bruzzese as he leads the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra in Tchaikovsky's tuneful Serenade for Strings.

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings performed by the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra conducted by James Brooks-Bruzzese [Maduro Muziekstichting MCD 06, tracks 1 - 4] [29:34]

James Brooks-Bruzzese conducted the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra in Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, the major work on this hour devoted to the international conducting career of James Brooks-Bruzzese.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

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Maestro Brooks-Bruzzese received his doctorate in opera conducting and musicology from Washington University in St. Louis. He studied conducting with Leonard Slatkin and Richard Karp, and the music of Bach in a master class with the famous cellist and conductor, Pablo Casals.

Maestro Brooks-Bruzzese has conducted the Berlin Symphony, the Hungarian Virtuosi at the Vigado [VI-ga-doe] Theater in Budapest and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Natal [na-TAL] Philharmonic in Johannesburg, the Pretoria Symphony and the Capetown Opera Company, all in South Africa.

He has also conducted orchestras in the Soviet Union, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain, Turkey, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Peru, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Italy, and Argentina. It would almost be faster to name the countries where he has not yet conducted!

And his repertoire is as varied as the orchestras he has led. He conducts everything from Baroque to modern, from Bach to Bartok, from the classics to classic film scores and the popular classics of George Gershwin.

MUSIC: Gershwin: I Got Rhythm with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Brooks-Bruzzese [Orchid 11018, track 6]

Richard Heyman's arrangement of George Gershwin's I Got Rhythm. James Brooks-Bruzzese conducted the Xalapa [hah-LAH-pa] Symphony Orchestra of Mexico. That was an Orchid compact disc.

Maestro Brooks-Bruzzese has recorded several CDs with different orchestras on different labels. But in our next example of his work he conducts the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra once again, this time on a Hallmark Classics British CD called "Hollywood Favourites." I can tell it's British by the way "Favourites" is spelled on the cover. From that CD let's listen to a selection from Cabaret.

MUSIC: Kander & Ebb (arranged by Richard Heyman): Cabaret performed the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Brooks-Bruzzese [Hallmark Classics 350302, track 5] [2:29]

Richard Heyman's arrangement of music from Cabaret. James Brooks-Bruzzese conducted the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra.

From American musical theater set in a German cabaret to Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok, there doesn't seem to be anything that Maestro Brooks-Bruzzese can't conduct with great energy. I attended a concert he gave with the Symphony of the Americas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It started with that old warhorse, the Star Spangled Banner. Why he even conducted that with great spirit and enthusiasm, as if he had never conducted it before. But that performance has yet to be issued on a CD. So we'll listen to the Bartok, which was recorded at a concert in Rosario, Argentina.

MUSIC: Bartok: Romanian Folk Dances performed by the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Andras Csontha, violin, James Brooks-Bruzzese, conductor [AUR CD 3106, tracks 10-16]

Andras Csontha [AHN-drahsh CHOWN-ka] was the violin soloist in that recording of Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances. James Brooks-Bruzzese conducted the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries, and I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. This hour is devoted to the recordings of James Brooks-Bruzzese, the world-renowned conductor of the Symphony of the Americas, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The recording you just heard was made at a concert in Rosario, Argentina. It was part of an annual Summerfest series started by Maestro James Brooks-Bruzzese to foster international orchestral cultural exchanges.

I'm going to conclude this hour with another Summerfest recording that James Brooks-Bruzzese made with the Hungarian Virtuosi, this time in Hungary. This piece isn't nearly as well known as the others I've featured in this program. It will probably be a real compact discovery for many of you. It's the Serenade for Strings, Opus 20, by Sir Edward Elgar. The work was written in 1892, shortly after Elgar's marriage. The piece opens in a minor key. I hope that didn't reflect his married life in any way.

MUSIC: Elgar: Serenade for Strings, Op. 20 performed by Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, James Brooks-Bruzzese, conducting [produced by Symphony of the Americas, Inc., no CD number indicated, tracks 1-3] [11:05]

James Brooks-Bruzzese conducted the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra in the Serenade for Strings, Opus 20, by Sir Edward Elgar.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm Fred Flaxman, and this hour was devoted to the guest conducting recordings of James Brooks-Bruzzese, conductor of the Symphony of the Americas, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): This program was made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts -- a great nation deserves great art; and by the Public Radio Exchange Reversioning Project. The Public Radio Exchange is at prx.org.
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