THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Familiarity can breed admiration as well as contempt, but a lack of familiarity usually breeds nothing.

A few weeks ago, I heard a recording of Vittorio Giannini’s Dedication Overture for band for the first time.

My initial reaction was that the piece, which was composed in the 1960s, represented the ponderous and tired ramblings of a composer who was desperately trying to recapture the magic of his Symphony #3 from 1958. However, in the midst of my disappointment, I found myself drawn to the glorious second theme of the work, a broad sweeping melody with Elgarian gestures throughout.

So, based solely on my admiration for this one component of the composition, I listened again. And again. In the recording I had, it seemed that I could hear possible moments of brilliance just below the surface in other passages of the overture. The work continued to grow on me to the point that I sought a second recording. What a difference that made! Inner voices pulsed with life, and better choices of tempi moved the overture through time with effortless sonic elegance. Soon, I became aware that through repeated hearings and an improved performance, I had become a great fan of Dedication Overture. Not just the second theme – the whole enchilada!

I wonder how many people take the time these days to subject a new piece to repeated hearings – either by performing it or listening to it. So many works seem to premiere and then drop out of sight, and so often the single recording that remains is – shall we say – not the definitive rendition of the work! Are many great compositions of our time doomed to obscurity simply because of a lack of repetition and the familiarity that results?

Here’s to that elusive second performance and/or second recording!

-DPS

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