Edward T. Cone, composer, pianist, author, and teacher, enjoyed a

distinguished career as a professor of music at Princeton University

and he produced several scholarly books, many of them classics in

their field. At the time of his receipt of an honorary doctorate of

humane letters from Princeton University, Cone was cited as the "ideal

embodiment of composer, performer, teacher and scholar… The knowing

beauty of his compositions, the graceful power of his piano playing

and the inviting elegance of his critical essays teach us to think

well of music’s place in human affairs. His genial voice remains the

melody so many of us hear when we ponder music."

Last year the Princeton Symphony Orchestra introduced the Edward T.

Cone Series to pay tribute to the memory of this remarkable and

generous man and his exceptional role in sustaining and guiding the

development of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra from its inception.

The second annual Edward T. Cone concert takes place on Sunday,

January 20. According to a press statement the program has been

selected "to honor Cone’s remarkable gifts as a composer and his great

passion for the work of Gustav Mahler. Under the baton of guest

conductor Mischa Santora, the orchestra will present the world

premiere performance of Cone’s An Overture for the War, music for our

time as well as the time during which it was composed. The Overture

has been paired with Cone’s Elegy to explore two contrasting and

profound sides of this composer, teacher, author, and humanitarian."

The orchestra will also perform Mahler’s evocative and stirring song

cycle, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, containing many of the same themes also

explored by Cone’s works.

One of two Cone compositions that can be associated with the beginning

of World War II, An Overture for the War was written in the winter of

1942, just before Cone entered the army, where he worked in the Office

of Strategic Services. A Princeton University graduate student working

toward his master of fine arts degree in music, Cone originally

composed this piece for a competition that called for "new music

composed in response to the country’s entrance into the war." Roy

Dickinson Welch, founding chair of the Princeton University Music

Department insisted that Cone change the name of the piece to Prelude

to Victory for the purpose of the competition. It was Cone’s first

completed piece for full orchestra.

Cone’s Elegy was written about 10 years later in 1953, after the

composer had completed nearly 30 pieces. Elegy was commissioned and

first performed in 1954 by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra

Association, a performing ensemble of that era which was led by

Nicholas Harsanyi, and whose board included such luminaries as Albert

Einstein. Nathanial Burt reviewed the 1954 performance, noting that

the piece was "developed musically and orchestrally with great

imagination." He went on to call Elegy, "a piece of great impact…

magnificent. . ."

Between 1892 and 1901 Gustav Mahler composed 15 songs for voice and

orchestra based on different texts from a collection of German folk

poetry, called Des Knaben Wunderhorn, or "The Youth’s Magic Horn."

Selected from more than three volumes containing over seven-hundred

works, Mahler’s songs were inspired by those poems with which he felt

a strong connection. Conceived for voice and orchestra, the collection

is now known as Mahler’s `Songs from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn." With

subjects ranging from love and heartbreak to childhood fantasy and

war, the Wunderhorn poems, sometimes bitter and tragic, sometimes

playful and light, inspired many composers, but they are perhaps most

central to Mahler’s musical legacy.

The Youth’s Magic Horn, Sunday, January 20, 4 p.m., Princeton Symphony

Orchestra, Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. Music of

Mahler and Cone. Mischa Santora conducts. Susan Narucki, soprano, and

Alexander Tall, baritone, are soloists. Pre-concert lecture at 3 p.m.

$16 to $64. Subscriptions for the three remaining classical series

concerts and single tickets are also available.

www.princetonsymphony.org or 609-497-0020.

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