“This interesting novelty is by a composer little known to the musical world and whose name now appears for the first time on the programs of these concerts,” wrote Hubbard William Harris in the program book. “[Paul] Dukas’s composition is, as its name signifies, in a single movement and is constructed from thematic material so easily grasped as to require neither quotation nor extended explanation. . . . The composer has drawn his inspiration from Goethe’s ballad Der Zauberlehrling (The pupil in magic). The instrumentation is exceedingly rich and effective and in point of difficulty of execution the work stands side by side with the brilliant compositions of [Richard] Strauss, d’Indy, and other modern writers.”
Theodore Thomas and the Chicago Orchestra performed Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on January 13, 1899, the U.S. premiere of the thirty-three-year-old composer’s scherzo. Forty years later in Disney’s Fantasia, the work would be forever linked to Mickey Mouse’s apprentice, tormented by his inability to control an onslaught of brooms and buckets of water.
(Bruno Steindel, the Orchestra’s principal cello, originally was scheduled to be soloist in Raff’s Cello Concerto on this program; however, he canceled due to illness and Chabrier’s “interesting novelty,” the composer’s Suite pastorale, replaced the concerto.)
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