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March 4, 1919

The New York Philharmonic Society and its director, the Czech conductor and composer Josef Stránsky, gave the first of a series of concerts presented to the college by Edgar L. Marston, a trustee from 1905 until 1923. Maestro Stránsky’s program began with Brahm’s Symphony No.2 in D major, Op. 73, and continued with the symphonic poem, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentics,” by Paul Dukas, a “quaint tale” that, said a reviewer in The Vassar Miscellany News, “was funny, in a farcial way—we couldn’t refrain from humming “Humpty-umpty diddle dee” to its perpetual, lilting rhythm, and the same rhythm has not ceased ti pursue its jovial ride through our minds, on the backs of those patient bassoons and mammoth double-basses…. There is much disagreement as to whether or not this sort of pictorial fun in music is legitimate. However on may feel about that mooted question there was certainly a charming humor in the Dukas which no even the most conservative of critics could fail to enjoy.”

A tone poem,“The Swan of Tuonela,” from the Lemminkäinen, Op.22, of Jean Sibelius, supplied “dramatic contrast” to the sorcerer’s tale. “There was plenty of rich color, very dark, for the most part, touched with rhythmic swirls and covered with majestic, swaying melody. The theme and variations, the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G, Op. 55, concluded the regular program with “an exquisite finish. The variations are splendidly contrasted…. The violin solo which is part of the eleventh variation was played with splendid abandon, clear-cut vigor and a clear tone.” The orchestra kept to Tchaikovsky with its encore, offering his “Marche Slave.”

“It was over so soon,” the reviewer said, “but through this magnificent opportunity we have begun on the road to better understanding of what is before us next year and all orchestral music will mean vastly more to us because of the electric effect of this tremendous concert.”

In all, the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York City gave seven Marston Concerts at Vassar through 1921.

The Years