Michael Schønwandt, a native of Copenhagen, served as Music Director of the Royal Orchestra and the Royal Opera in Copenhagen from 2000 to 2011, while he held the post of Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra from 2010 to 2013. He currently serves as the Principal Conductor of the Opéra Orchestre National de Montpellier, a position he’s held since September 2015. Maestro Schønwandt has conducted at leading opera houses around the world and maintains an active concert career amongst Europe’s leading ensembles. Additionally, he enjoys a special interest in Danish music and is regarded as a leading interpreter of Carl Nielsen works, having recorded all his symphonies and concerti. His most recent release, from 2015, is a recording of Maskarade to mark the 150th anniversary of Nielsen’s birth.
Radek Baborák was born in Pardubice, then still a part of communist Czechoslovakia. He started learning the horn with Karel Křenek. In his youth, he won the Prague Radio Competition, Concertino Praga, as well as the Competition for Interpreters of Contemporary Music. He continued his studies at the Prague Conservatoire under Bedřich Tylšar and in 1995, he was awarded the Grammy Award Classic and the Dawidov Prize. Baborák was appointed principal horn with the Czech Philharmonic while still a teenager, he then served as principal horn with the Munich Philharmonic, the Bamberg Symphony, and from 2003 to 2010 he held the post with the Berlin Philharmonic. Mr Baborák has recorded more than twenty CDs for the Japanese label Octavia Records and is especially popular in Japan. He also enjoyed the honour of performing the opening concert of the Olympic Games in Nagano in collaboration with Maestro Seiji Ozawa. Radek Baborák currently serves as a senior lecturer at the Fondazione Arturo Toscanini in Parma and holds the position of guest professor at TOHO University Tokyo, Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofia and teaches at the Academy of Music in Prague.
Christian Frederick Emil Horneman was a Danish composer, conductor, music publisher, and teacher. His father was Johan Ole Emil Horneman, the composer of the wellloved Danish songs Dengang jeg drog afsted and Højt fra Træets grønne Top and co-owner of Copenhagen’s leading music publisher Horneman & Erslev. C.F.E. Horneman studied at the Leipzig Conservatory with Ignaz Moscheles, Ernst Friedrich Richter, Moritz Hauptmann, and Julius Rietz. After returning to Denmark he composed the opera Aladdin, which occupied him for more than twenty years. The opera’s overture is Horneman's best known work, along with the four-movement suite derived from the incidental music for the Holger Drachmann drama Gurre.
In May 1900 Horneman was called to the Royal Theatre, anticipating that they would be re-premiering Aladdin. Instead, he was handed Holger Drachmann’s play Gurre, and asked to set it to music. The legend of Gurre castle is that King Valdemar Atterdag was so fond of his castle at Gurre that he said, God could keep Heaven, as long as the King had Gurre. For his blasphemy he was punished and condemned to hunt eternally in the area surrounding the castle. This legend went all the way back to the medieval ballad of Valdemar and Tove, according to which Queen Helvig, jealous of the King’s love affair with the young Tove, he locked her in a bathhouse and left her to die. Drachmann concentrated on the love triangle of King Volmer, Queen Helvig and Tove. Drachmann was inspired to write the drama during a stay at the Marianelund Inn near Gurre, in 1898. Horneman too knew the castle ruin at Gurre. In August 1865, he had been on a walking tour from Fredensborg to Marianelund and Gurre. Horneman remembered this tour when he started to compose his music in the summer of 1900. The music consists of a total of ten numbers, of which the overture and the four preludes form the suite, the work demonstrates that romantic music was the composers true domain.
Reinhold Glière was a Soviet composer of German and Polish ancestry. He was the second son of the wind instrument maker Ernst Moretz Glière. He composed the Concerto for Horn and Orchestra in 1951, for the Russian hornist Valery Polekh, who premiered the work on May 10, 1950, in Leningrad. The Horn Concerto is the best known of Glière 's works and it's written in a neoclassical style, arranged in three movements, with Romantic influences. At the time when it was composed, the French horn was able to take on a larger role as a solo instrument due to developments to the instruments valves in the early 19th century, which allowed composers a greater flexibility in their compositions. The horn became a full range solo instrument, which Polekh was eager to demonstrate. An especially bright moment in the work occurs in the finale. Here the composer wrote a strongly rhythmic tune reminiscent of a Russian peasant dance, and uses the orchestra to showcase the virtuosity of the soloist, featuring difficult technique and a long cadence.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov composed Sheherazade in the summer of 1888 and conducted the first performance on November 3, the same year in Saint Petersburg. As a boy, Nikolai fell in love with the idea of the Orient via the letters his older brother Voin sent from the Far East, where he was serving in the navy. The composer later noted that after reading the Arabian Nights' Entertainments he conceived "an orchestral suite in four movements, closely knit by the community of its themes and motives, yet representing, as it were, a kaleidoscope of fairy-tale images and designs of Oriental character." For centuries, the stories that comprise The Arabian Nights circulated individually throughout the Middle East and were attributed to anonymous authors. They were not widely known in Europe, however, until the 19th century, when a number of translations appeared in print. Rimsky-Korsakov provided no specific program for the work, however in his explanation of the title Scheherazade, he wrote an introduction for its premiere, “The Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales, told seriatim, for a thousand and one nights. The Sultan, consumed with curiosity, postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and finally repudiated his bloody vow entirely.”
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator