Orchestral Music of Michael Horvit

Michael Horvit

Cullen Overture

Concerto for Brass Quintet & Orchestra

Invocation & Exultation


Daughters of Jerusalem - Fantasy for Violin & Orchestra


Until the opening of the Moores School of Music in 1997, Cullen Performance Hall was the main concert hall on the campus of the University of Houston. In October, 1988, after a year of extensive renovations, the hall was rededicated with a gala concert featuring Cullen Overture, which was commissioned by the university for the occasion.

The overture begins with a stately brass fanfare. This is followed by a fast section which contains two ideas: the first, very rhythmic and featuring the percussion; the second, a lyrical theme stated by the cellos and first bassoon. The central part of the overture is slow. A mysterioso section played by tremolo strings is followed by a chorale, presented by the brass and restated by the winds. The themes of the fast section return and are followed by a brief restatement of the opening fanfare, which brings the overture to a stirring conclusion.


Commissioned by Richard Frazier for the Chicago Chamber Brass, Concerto for Brass and Orchestra is a showpiece for brass quintet and orchestra. It explores the wide palette of technical and expressive qualities offered by the brass quintet. These attributes are presented together with and sometimes in contrast to the infinitely variable sonorities of the symphony orchestra.

The work has three movements. The first and third are fast, energetic, and vivacious. Rhythmic excitement and the colors of percussion section play a large part in these movements. There are quick shifts from one section of the orchestra to another, and significant displays of technical virtuosity by the solo quintet.

The middle movement is slow. In its outer sections, the orchestra provides a sensuous, contrapuntal texture, against which the solo quintet presents its own dialogues and solos. The middle section is an antiphonal chorale for the solo and orchestral brass.


Invocation and Exultation was commissioned by the Missouri Unit of the American String Teachers Association in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death and was premièred in January, 1991. The subscript to the title page bears the dates, 1791-1991. There are several references to Mozart's music in the piece. This is especially true of the first movement which is largely built on an inversion (which re-inverts itself, eventually) of the main theme of Symphony No. 41, last movement. There are many other quotes from late Mozart symphonies, as well.

The first movement is a call to the spirit of Mozart. It is built on a series of canonic entrances, each a self-contained arch, which combine with increasing intensity to a chorale climax. The second movement is a lively mixed meter dance celebrating the spirit of Mozart. It is in ternary form, with the opening and closing sections in an exuberant fortissimo, while the middle section is a calm reflection of the first movement.


Aleinu was commissioned by Congregation Emanu El, Houston, in 1985, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the ordination of Rabbi Robert I. Kahn. Composed for baritone, solo violin, SATB choir, and organ, it was premièred in the spring of that year with the composer conducting and Fredell Lack as the violin soloist.

This prayer is one of the most important and ancient in Jewish liturgy a heartfelt expression of belief in God. The baritone soloist sings the original Hebrew text, while the choir responds with the English translation. The organ is heard throughout, binding the work together, providing unity and continuity. The melodic style of both solo voice and violin is patterned after the cantorial tradition of Jewish worship.

Aleinu was written ten years prior to the Daughters of Jerusalem. The composer writes: "Every time I heard Fredell perform the Aleinu, I was deeply moved by her depth of expression, her intuitive, complete understanding of the style, and her gorgeous tone. Over the years we discussed my following Aleinu with a major work for her. At last, with Daughters of Jerusalem, the opportunity arrived."


The work was commissioned by Congregation Emanu El, Houston, and is dedicated to violinist Fredell Lack, who premièred it at Temple Emanu El on 25 February 1996, with Franz Anton Krager conducting the Moores School Symphony Orchestra.

Daughters of Jerusalem is titled a Fantasy, because it does not follow the usual plan of a concerto, but rather draws its inspiration and meaning from several poems taken from The Song of Songs. The text which provides inspiration for the music consists of three longer poems introduced, separated and followed by a brief refrain. The Fantasy follows the same design, and is played without pause between the movements. Music based on the following short poem, and varying at each appearance, serves as an Introduction, Interludes, and Postlude to the three main movements. The title of the fantasy is taken from this poem:

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,

By the gazelles, and by the hinds of the field,

That ye awaken not, nor stir up love, until it please.

The three main movements contrast in tempo, character, and emotional content. The first is a lyrical, lush, romantic expression of love.

As a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters...

"Stay ye me with dainties, refresh me with apples; For I am lovesick."

The middle movement is agitated at first;

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth...

Builds in intensity;

I sought him, but I found him not.

And culminates in an explosion of energy.

When I found him whom my soul loveth, I held him and would not let him go...

The music of the final movement evolves from the music of the first. It begins expectantly;

I sleep, but my heart waketh; Hark! My beloved knocketh.

Grows hopefully;

My beloved put his hand by the hole of the door,

And my heart was moved for him.

And ends in despair.

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had turned away, and was gone... The watchmen that go about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me...

The final statement of the refrain, as in the biblical text, differs from the others:

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,

If ye find my beloved, what will ye tell him?

That I am love-sick.

The Fantasy has many of the characteristics we generally associate with a concerto. It has length. It contrasts the solo violin with a large orchestra, and much of the music for the solo violin displays the virtuoso qualities of the instrument. While the orchestra is moderate in size, so as not to overpower the solo violin, the instrumentation was chosen for its coloristic possibilities. The English horn and harp in particular, are given major roles.


Michael Horvit (b. 22 June 1932) is a Professor at the University of Houston Moores School of Music, where he has headed the Theory and Composition Department since 1967.

For 25 years, he served as Music Director at Congregation Emanu El, Houston. During his studies at Yale University, Tanglewood, Harvard, and Boston University, where he received his DMA degree, Michael Horvit's composition teachers were Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss, Walter Piston, Quincy Porter, and Gardner Read.

His works are widely performed in the U.S. and abroad. They range from solo instrument and vocal works to large symphonic compositions, choral cantatas and operas, many written specifically for the Jewish liturgy. They are available from several publishers, including C.F. Peters, Recital Publications, Shawnee Press, E.C.Schirmer and Transcontinental Music.

Among the numerous ensembles and organizations that have commissioned his works are the Houston Ballet, the Houston Symphony, the National Symphony of Mexico, the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Chamber Brass, the Esterhazy String Quartet, the Arkansas Symphony String Quartet, Temple Emanu El, Houston, and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Horvit is co-author of three widely used theory texts published by Wadsworth Publishing Co. He is the recipient of awards from organizations that include B.M.I., ASCAP, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fridge Trust, Meet the Composer, the F. O. Butler Foundation, and the University of Houston.


The 95 member Moores School Symphony Orchestra (MSSO) is committed to musical excellence. Membership in the MSSO is open each semester to all graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Houston by audition.

During a typical season, the MSSO will perform ten to twelve concerts. Repertoire includes an expansive cross section of the standard literature, 20th century works, and new music, including music by Moores School faculty and student composers. As an accompanying ensemble, the MSSO plays concerti encompassing all the major musical periods. Student soloists include instrumentalists and vocalists who earn their invitation to perform with the orchestra by placing in the annual Moores School Concerto Competition. Other soloists range from Moores School faculty to visiting guest artists. In addition, a major choral work is performed each season with the Moores School choirs.

Franz Anton Krager has served as Director of Orchestras at the Moores School of Music since 1992. In addition, he is Director of Orchestral Studies and Resident Conductor for the Texas Music Festival and co-founder in 1996 of the Virtuosi of Houston.

In 1982, he led the Symphony Orchestra of Berlin in the Herbert von Karajan International Conducting Competition, and in 1990 at the invitation of Soviet authorities, distinguished himself as the first American conductor to lead the Kazan National Philharmonic. In 1984, Krager was named music director of the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra of Texas and joined the music faculty at Texas A&M University. Krager has toured extensively in many of the countries of Europe, the former Soviet Union, Japan, Africa, Australia, South and Central America, Mexico, and Canada. Since 1987, Krager has been a summer lecturer-in-residence at the Santa Chiara Study Center near Florence, Italy.

Adrian Gnam has been the music director of the Macon, Georgia, Symphony Orchestra since 1983. His distinguished career has included principal oboe positions with the Cleveland, Cincinnati and American Symphony Orchestras. For 15 seasons he was principal guest conductor of Philadelphia Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra. In addition, Gham served for six years as assistant music director and two years as music director for the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a past president of the Conductors Guild. He has guest conducted with major orchestras both here and abroad, as well as, among others, the Spoleto, Interlochen, Chautauqua and Texas Music Festivals.

The Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival is a summer residency at the University of Houston Moores School of Music for advanced music students. Each year the TMF attracts talented performers in all instruments from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe and the Far East for intensive one-on-one lessons, master classes and ensemble performance opportunities, including the TMF Symphony.

The Ambient Brass Quintet was formed in 1990. Its members (Daniel W. Shipman and Melissa Bahr, trumpets; Elizabeth Zwicky, horn; Brent Phillips, trombone; and Mark Barton, tuba) are active on the Houston musical scene and perform with all of the major arts organizations in the city, including the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Masterworks Chorus, Houston Symphony, Houston Bach Society and Theater Under the Stars.

The Norrbotten Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1991. Headquartered in Piteå, Sweden, it presents several programs on tour each year. Under the guidance of its producer, Kjell Englund, a primary focus of the activities of the orchestra is the performance of music of the 20th century.

Leon Spierer studied violin in Buenos Aires with Ljerko Spiller and in London with Max Rostal. From 1958 to 1963, he was the concertmaster of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1963 he became the First Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic at the invitation of Herbert von Karajan, serving in that capacity until 1993. Recipient of the German Music Critics Award and numerous international prizes, he frequently serves on the juries of several international competitions.

Spierer remains in great demand worldwide as a conductor, orchestral soloist, and recitalist. For the past several years, he has had a close relationship with the Norrbotten Chamber Orchestra of Sweden.

From a child prodigy who made her debut at the age of eight to an internationally acclaimed violin virtuosa, Fredell Lack has remained at the top of America's list of outstanding performers. Lack was a pupil of Menuhin, Ricci and Stern, and later worked with Ivan Galamian. A laureate of the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition ( Brussels), she has gathered prize after prize along with increasing fame. Her performances in Europe, Israel, Canada, Central America, and the United States are always followed by enthusiastic appreciation from audiences and the highest praise from critics.

Fredell Lack has made more than twenty European concert tours, has performed more than thirty-five broadcasts for the BBC in England, and has several recordings for RIAS in Berlin. Among the distinguished conductors with whom she has appeared are Abravanel, Ancerl, Barbirolli, Beecham, Comissiona, Katims, Previn, Schmidt-Isserstedt, Steinberg, Stokowski and Zinman. In addition to her international performance career, Lack is a renowned teacher of her instrument and serves as Professor of Violin at the Moores School of Music.

The Moores School Concert Chorale is a select ensemble of 55 graduate and undergraduate students from the Moores School of Music. Varied programs of distinctive chorale literature, representing historic and contemporary repertoire styles, are presented both on campus and on annual tours. In recent seasons the Chorale has performed with the Houston Symphony, the Corpus Christi Symphony, and the Moores School Symphony Orchestra.

Charles Hausmann has been the Director of Choral Studies at the Moores School of Music since 1985 and Director of the Houston Symphony Chorus since 1986. He is frequently invited to conduct at major festivals throughout the United States, Europe and Mexico. An active guest conductor and clinician, Hausmann holds degrees from Westminster Choir College, Trenton State College and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Robert Jones is Professor of Organ at the Moores School of Music. His studio has one of the largest classes of organ majors in the United States. The Beckerath tracker-action pipe organ at the Moores School was designed by Jones and dedicated in 1975. A champion of 20th-century music, Jones's teachers include Edward Eigenschenk, Leo Sowerby, Maurice Durflé, and Marilyn Mason.

W. Stephen Smith has been on the voice faculty of the Moores School of Music since 1989. He also serves on the voice faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and is Director of Vocal Studies for the Houston Opera Studio of the Houston Grand Opera. Renowned as a teacher, his students have performed leading roles in most major opera houses and concert halls, including the Metropolitan Opera, London's Royal Opera at Covent Garden, the Lyric Opera of Chicago,

as well as Houston Grand Opera.

Members of the Ambient Brass are Daniel W. Shipman and Melissa Bahr, trumpets; Elizabeth Zwicky, horn; Brent Phillips, trombone; Mark Barton, tuba

A digital master recording, produced by KUHF-FM Radio, Houston, in co-operation with the Moores School of Music, University of Houston.

Producer: John Gladney Proffitt

The Cullen Overture was originally released on Albany TROY 134.

Cover Art: Jewish Museum/Art Resource, New York · James Jacques Joseph Tissot: Miriam's Song of Joy after crossing the Red Sea. Jewish Museum, New York, NY, U.S.A.

Daughters of Jerusalem

Orchestral Music of Michael Horvit

The Cullen Overture (1988) (11:43)

Texas Music Festival Orchestra

Adrian Gnam, conductor

Concerto for Brass Quintet & Orchestra (1989)

I-fast, with energy (5:50)

II-moderately slow; sustained (8:17)

III-very fast (4:15)

The Ambient Brass

Moores School of Music Symphony Orchestra,

Franz Anton Krager, conducting

Invocation & Exultation (1990)

Invocation-moderately slow (5:54)

Exultation-very fast (3:03)

Norrbotten Chamber Orchestra, Sweden

Leon Spierer, conductor

Aleinu ("Adoration") (1985) (9:32)

Fredell Lack, violin; Stephen Smith, baritone

Moores School Concert Chorale

Robert Jones, organ

Charles Hausmann, conductor

Fantasy for Violin & Orchestra

Daughters of Jerusalem (1996) (24:00)

Prelude-slow, very sustained


Interlude-slow, very sustained


Interlude-slow, very sustained

III-very sustained; flowing; with energy

Postlude-as at first

Fredell Lack, violin

Moores School of Music Symphony Orchestra,

Franz Anton Krager, conducting

TOTAL TIME, with pauses: 72:36

Members of the Ambient Brass are

Daniel W. Shipman and Melissa Bahr, trumpets;

Elizabeth Zwicky, horn; Brent Phillips, trombone; Mark Barton, tuba

A digital master recording, produced by KUHF-FM Radio, Houston,

in co-operation with the Moores School of Music,

University of Houston.

Producer: John Gladney Proffitt

The Cullen Overture was originally released on Albany TROY 134