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Philharmonic To Debut New Edition of Toscanini 'Star-Spangled Banner' Arr.


This Fourth of July, the Philharmonic will be celebrating two birthdays: America’s and the "Star-Spangled Banner"’s.

In advance of the national anthem’s bicentennial in September 2014, throughout July the Philharmonic will give the first performances of a new edition of former Philharmonic Music Director Arturo Toscanini’s 1951 arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner”: July 4–6 during the Summertime Classics: “Star-Spangled Celebration” concerts, led by witty conductor/host Bramwell Tovey; the free Central Park concert on July 14, during the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert; and July 18 during its Bravo! Vail residency, also led by Alan Gilbert.

Even more good news: the new edition will be made available to educators across the nation at no charge at

The backstory: In the years leading up to World War II, Toscanini was active as an anti-fascist. When he re-located to the U.S., he presided over the NBC Symphony Orchestra and was noted for championing “The Star-Spangled Banner” during World War II. In performance he faced the standing audience to lead them in singing the anthem’s first verse, and in every performance, including rehearsals or recording sessions, he insisted that all of the orchestra’s musicians stand while playing the anthem as a sign of respect. Toscanini originally created an orchestration of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for an international broadcast in 1943, and a few months later he completed a manuscript to be auctioned for war bond purchases. In December 1951 he revised his arrangement and donated the new autograph score to the Philharmonic for a fundraising auction; William Rosenwald, a Philharmonic Board Member (1941–75), bought the manuscript and donated it back to the Philharmonic. It remained in the Orchestra’s Archives until University of Michigan musicologist Mark Clague and Philharmonic Archivist/Historian Barbara Haws met in December 2013, and decided to collaborate on the new edition.

Summertime Classics To Feature Russian, American Classics

Summertime Classics NY Philharmonic 

The New York Philharmonic recently announced that Summertime Classics will take place July 2–6, 2014, featuring five themed concerts with Bramwell Tovey. All concerts will be at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

On July 2–3 the Philharmonic will perform “Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and Friends,” with pianist Joyce Yang as soloist.

On July 4–6 “Star-Spangled Celebration” will feature the Philharmonic and United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps — “The Commandant’s Own” — in a program of American music.

Join us for these popular concerts that combine the Philharmonic’s topnotch music-making with a relaxed summer vibe, plus Bramwell Tovey’s witty commentary. For details and tickets: Summertime Classics.

Traffic Jammin'

Joseph Alessi New York Legends

Riding in his sports car from his home in New Jersey to Avery Fisher Hall, Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi gets stuck in traffic at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. Unfazed, Alessi grabs his trombone and serenades his fellow commuters. 

This never happened, but it’s what composer-conductor Bramwell Tovey imagines in his 2006 piece The Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret, written for his friend Alessi. 

“In New York, anything can happen,” quips Tovey. 

He conducts Alessi and the Orchestra in the World Premiere of the work’s orchestral version tonight and tomorrow at “Star-Spangled Celebration,” the opening program of the Philharmonic’s annual Summertime Classics series, and again at Bravo! Vail.

Saturn Night Live

The Planets - An HD Odyssey

Holst nicknamed Saturn “The Bringer of Old Age," but it's still winning beauty pageants: astronomers call Saturn the most photogenic member of the solar system in interviews for The Planets – An HD Odyssey, the high-definition film of NASA images that will accompany the Philharmonic’s performance of Holst’s epic suite, July 5–7. 

Holst was actually channeling each planet's astrological meanings, rather than astronomical features, but Duncan Copp, the film's director/producer, says Holst's music syncs up with the NASA images best in "Saturn," which happened to be Holst's favorite movement. “Look carefully and you’ll see two small ‘shepherd’ moons scooting along next to the rings as the planet majestically rises and the music builds to a crescendo,” Copp told the Houston Symphony, which commissioned the film.

Copp, who holds a doctorate in astronomy, still has a soft spot for Venus; for four years he was a member of the NASA team that mapped it. “Temperatures are 470 degrees Celsius [878 degrees Fahrenheit] on the surface, and it’s got a choking atmosphere. It’s a hellish world, but Holst saw it as a beautiful world, and his music reflects that. It’s the goddess of beauty and love … a picture of pure serenity.”