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Winner of the 2018 Emerging Artist Award from Lincoln Center and a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant

ALIVEmusica, a collaboration among four Hudson Valley chamber music presenters, welcomes Michael Brown back to the stage of the Howland Cultural Center, streaming on October 11, 2020, 8:15 PM.

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Howland Chamber Music Circle
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“one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performers-composers.”  The New York Times

Artist Website: Michael Brown

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809): Fantasia (Capriccio) in C Major, Hob. XVII:4

Claude Debussy (1862-1918): Hommage à Haydn

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)): Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn

Michael Brown: Breakup Etude for the Right Hand Alone (World Premiere)

Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915): Prelude and Nocturne for Left Hand Alone, Op. 9

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 (“Pathétique”)
Grave — Allegro di molto e con brio
Adagio cantabile
Rondo: Allegro

Program is subject to change

Notes by Michael Brown

HAYDN: Fantasia in C Major, Hob. XVII:4, Capriccio (1789)

Haydn’s humorous Fantasia in C Major “Capriccio” is based on the Austrian folk song Do Bäuren hat d’Katz valor’n, “The farmer’s wife has lost her cat.” Haydn wrote his publisher that, “in a moment of great good humour I have completed a new Capriccio for fortepiano, whose taste, singularity and special construction cannot fail to receive approval from connoisseurs and amateurs alike. In a single movement, rather long, but not particularly difficult.”

DEBUSSY: Hommage à Haydn (1909)
RAVEL: Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn (1909)
Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy were commissioned in 1909 (along with four others) to write short homages to commemorate the centenary of Haydn’s death. Debussy and Ravel spell out H-A-Y-D-N with musical pitches B-A-D-D-G and embed those notes throughout these inventive and supple miniatures.

MICHAEL BROWN: Breakup Etude for the Right Hand Alone (2020), world premiere
A minor finger injury in the summer of 2020 temporarily caused my two hands to “breakup” from each other. In looking around for repertoire to play, I discovered that there was very little written for the right hand alone—left-hand pieces are far more common. Therefore, I decided to write myself a virtuosic vehicle I can manage for my one available hand. The work features five fingers scampering up and down the keyboard incessantly, with lyrical and poignant music interspersed throughout. Breakup Etude for the Right Hand Alone is dedicated to myself and reflects my inner feelings, from loss and nostalgia to personal growth and discovery.

SCRIABIN: Prelude and Nocturne for Left Hand Alone, Op. 9 (1894)
Leo Tolstoy said of Scriabin’s music that it was “a sincere expression of genius.” In addition to his innovative compositions, Scriabin was a great pianist who suffered a right hand injury at the age of 20 due to over-practice. The Prelude and Nocturne for Left Hand Alone are a response to his physical suffering and clearly display Chopin’s profound influence on his music. Given my own temporary injury, I have reconfigured these works to play with the right hand alone.

BEETHOVEN: Sonata no. 8 in C minor, op. 13 (“Pathétique”) (1798)
Celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birth year in 2020, the program concludes with the master’s iconic Pathétique Sonata. The work was composed in 1798 and published with the title Grande Sonate Pathétique. Certain sources say that Beethoven himself added the subtitle Pathétique, while others imply it was the work of his publisher. Whatever the case may be, the work was an instant success and is example of his fascination with the dramatic possibilities of the key of C Minor. Other notable works in the same key include the Fifth Symphony and the Third Piano Concerto. Musicologist George Grove wrote, “the key of C minor occupies a peculiar position in Beethoven’s compositions. The pieces for which he has employed it are, with very few exceptions, remarkable for their beauty and importance.”

Michael Brown has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers.” His artistry is shaped by his creative voice as a pianist and composer, praised for his “fearless performances” (The New York Times) and “exceptionally beautiful” compositions (The Washington Post).

Winner of the 2018 Emerging Artist Award from Lincoln Center and a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Brown has recently performed as soloist with the Seattle Symphony, the National Philharmonic, and the Grand Rapids, North Carolina, New Haven, and Albany Symphonies; and recitals at Carnegie Hall, the Mostly Mozart Festival, and Caramoor. Brown is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing frequently at Alice Tully Hall and on tour. He was selected by András Schiff to perform on an international tour making solo debuts in Berlin, Milan, Florence, Zurich’s Tonhalle and New York’s 92nd Street Y. He regularly performs recitals with his longtime duo partner, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and has appeared at numerous festivals including Tanglewood, Marlboro, Music@Menlo, Gilmore, Ravinia, Saratoga, Bridgehampton, Bard, Sedona, Moab, and Tippet Rise.

As a composer, Brown’s Concerto for Piano and Strings will be premiered in 2020 at the Gilmore Festival and by the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra in Poland. Brown was the Composer and Artist-in-Residence at the New Haven Symphony for the 2017-19 seasons and a 2018 Copland House Residency Award recipient. He has received commissions from the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Concert Artists Guild, Shriver Hall; the New Haven and Maryland Symphony Orchestras; Osmo Vänskä; pianists Adam Golka, Roman Rabinovich, Orion Weiss, and David Kaplan; and a consortium of gardens.

He is a prolific recording artist whose upcoming releases in 2020 include Ravel’s Miroirs and Medtner’s Second Improvisation with newly discovered movements by Brown. His discography with orchestra features Brown as soloist with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot, and with the Brandenburg State Symphony in Samuel Adler’s First Piano Concerto. Other albums include Mendelssohn and Beethoven on First Hand Records; an all-George Perle CD; and collaborative albums with pianist Jerome Lowenthal, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and violinist Elena Urioste. He has plans to embark on a multi-year project to record the complete piano music by Felix Mendelssohn.

Brown was First Prize winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, a winner of the Bowers Residency from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (formerly CMS Two), a recipient of the Juilliard Petschek Award, and is a Steinway Artist. He earned dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano and composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald and composers Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. Additional mentors have included András Schiff and Richard Goode as well as his early teachers, Herbert Rothgarber and Adam Kent.

A native New Yorker, he lives there with his two 19th century Steinway D’s, Octavia and Daria.