Hasse Borup, one of the University of Utah's newest faculty members, will give his first major recital in Salt Lake City tonight at 7:30 in Dumke Recital Hall.
"American Phantasies," the program that the Danish-born violinist has chosen to play, is by any account uniquely unusual and eminently imaginative. The recital will explore Arnold Schoenberg and his American students John Cage, Leon Kirchner and Donald Harris.
"We think of Schoenberg as a quintessential European, but he lived his last 20 years in America," Borup said. "He left quite a legacy here."
The idea to do a program like this came to Borup while he was a member of the Coolidge String Quartet. "We were scheduled to record all of the Schoenberg quartets," he said, but the project wasn't realized until after he left the group. "I learned quite a bit about Schoenberg, though," he said.
The starting point for today's recital is Schoenberg's Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment, op. 47, one of his last works, written about two years before his death. "When I learned the Phantasy, I also began to learn about his students."
For his recital, Borup tried to find pieces that were equally spread out over the oast 50 years. Cage's Six Melodies for Violin and Keyboard came in 1950, a year after Schoenberg's Phantasy. Harris' Fantasy for Violin and Piano stems from 1957. Kirchner's "For Violin Solo" was written in 1985, and his Duo No. 2 for Violin and Piano was composed in 2002.
What struck Borup was the diversity of styles found among these pieces. "It was quite surprising to discover how completely different they are from each other and from Schoenberg."
The Cage uses tonal chords, while Kirchner's works can best be described as neo-romantic and improvisatory. Only Harris' piece comes closest to Schoenberg's. "His and Schoenberg's are the only two pieces that are 12-tone," Borup said. Perhaps not unexpectedly, since Harris also studied with Max Deutsch, who was one of Schoenberg's closest apostles.
Borup said that it's unfortunate Schoenberg has been stigmatized as an inaccessible composer. "It's not true, because he revered the old masters. He had his students go their own way and didn't indoctrinate them. He almost discouraged them from using the 12-tone technique."
Schoenberg firmly believed that only by learning from the past could a composer break from that tradition and blaze new trails.
Pianist Mary Kathleen Ernst will accompany Borup for tonight's concert. She is a former colleague from the University of Virginia, where he taught before coming to the U. last fall.
In addition to today's performance, Borup and Ernst will take the recital on tour. "We're going to play it at the American Composers Forum in Washington, D.C., at Ohio State University (where Harris teaches) and at the Schoenberg Center in Vienna."
What: Hasse Borup, violin; Mary Kathleen Ernst, piano
Where: Dumke Recital Hall, David Gardner Hall, University of Utah
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
How much: Free
E-mail: [email protected]