When thinking about the great American modernist composers, people tend to think of Copland, Bernstein, and Barber. They don’t tend to think of Walter Piston. Descended from Italian immigrants (the family name was Pistone), this ambitious composer from Massachusetts wrote a ballet in 1938 called The Incredible Flutist, a vivid, gleaming, ingenious work depicting a Spanish village visited by a flutist with magical powers. The piece contains a circus march that calls on the string players to cheer and whistle while the rest of the orchestra plays. Strangely, this was the only stage music that Piston ever composed in a career full of abstract pieces for orchestra or chamber groups. More strangely, it’s one of his best-known musical works. Stranger still, it’s now performed as an orchestral suite far more often than it’s ever staged as a ballet.
That will be one of the works on display as the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra resumes its regular concert schedule under the baton of guest conductor David Danzmayr, the Austrian who serves as music director of the Zagreb Philharmonic. (Fun fact: Zagreb is almost exactly the same size as Fort Worth.) The other items on the bill are Johann Strauss Jr.’s Roses From the South and Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony.
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra plays Fri-Sun at Bass Performance Hall, 555 Commerce St, FW. Tickets are $20-82. Call 817-665-6000.