Manchester Symphony features ‘Great Romantics’

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
February 18, 2016

MANCHESTER — On Sunday Feb. 21, Joseph Hodge will conduct the Manchester Symphony Orchestra in a concert that distills a world of epic romances into a single afternoon by performing several pieces that span cultures, time periods, and sentiment.

The concert, titled “Great Romantics,” will feature guest artist Augusta Caso, mezzo-soprano and will include Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings,” Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4,” and Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder.

Augusta Caso
Augusta Caso, mezzo-soprano, will perform on Sunday with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra.

Tchaikovsky wrote his Fourth Symphony just after the end of his brief marriage and dedicated it to his “dearest friend” and artistic patroness, Nadezhda von Meek. In a letter, he told her it would be “an echo of your most intimate thoughts and emotions.”

In contrast, romance in the Victorian and Edwardian eras in England often seemed more a matter of propriety than passion. The concert includes Serenade for Strings by Edward Elgar, who found constant tension between his efforts to secure a successful musical career and his devotion to music: itself. He lamented, “My life is one continual giving up of little things which I love.”

Fortunately, Elgar had a much happier marriage than Tchaikovsky. His beloved wife Alice was an accomplished author whose poetry he frequently set to music, and she also became his business manager and social secretary.

“Song cycles” were especially popular with German composers, who often chose and arranged the songs to tell a story. Gustav Mahler’s setting of five romantic poems by the poet Friedrich Rückert was instead a very personal expression of his own love story because it includes the song he composed as a wedding present to his wife, Alma.

The concert is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21 in Manchester High School’s Bailey Auditorium, 134 E. Middle Turnpike.

Tickets are $18; $15 for seniors; $10 for students; and free for those younger than 18 years of age. For further information, call 860-646-0047, e-mail MusicSix(at), or visit

or the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale Facebook page.