Three Musical Precursors: Beethoven, Debussy & Stravinsky

A Lecture Series by Farhad Mechkat November 6, 2008

 While it is certainly true that creativity constitutes one of the main components of any work of art, it does not necessarily follow that all creative minds engender new paths for subsequent generations to follow or rebel against. Beethoven, Debussy, and Stravinsky are thus exceptional in this regard, for history has shown that these three composers have played a seminal role in influencing generations of composers to come.

Most of the nineteenth century composers owe a debt of gratitude to Beethoven, especially the instrumental Brahms and the dramatic Wagner. One of the first composers of the post-Renaissance era, Beethoven systematically used interlocking thematic devices to achieve inter-movement unity in long compositions, epitomizing the tradition of classic music. He brought many innovations to his genres of music, introducing a remarkable elasticity to the previously well-crystallized form of the rondo, drawing it closer to sonata form.

Later in the century, Debussy showed a fertile way of eluding the post-Wagnerian extravaganzas and redefined music with each of his compositions. His music virtually defines the transition from late-Romantic music to twentieth century modernist music. In literary circles of France, this style was known as “Symbolism,” directly inspiring Debussy’s music and culture. Debussy’s harmonies, considered quite radical during his time, were extremely influential to almost every composer of the 20th century.

Finally, Stravinsky came as a rebel, shocking audiences with his modernity and establishing new criteria. One of music’s true innovators, the most important aspect of Stravinsky’s work aside from his technical creations in rhythm and harmony is the ever-changing face of his compositional style while retaining a distinctive and essential identity. No other composer of the twentieth century arguably exerted such a pervasive influence or dominated his art the way Stravinsky did during his lengthy musical career.

This fascinating 3-part lecture series by composer, conductor, and musical virtuoso Farhad Mechkat will demonstrate how the musical language of these remarkable precursors blazed new avenues for the next generation of composers.

Farhad Mechkat is a critically acclaimed composer, conductor, and musical virtuoso who began his musical studies at the Geneva Conservatory of Music. After graduating from the Mannes College of Music in New York, he decided to enrich himself with the Italian school of music making and spent 3 years studying with Toscanini’s disciple, ME Franco Ferrara in Rome and Sienna. Three years later, he returned to New York to participate in and win the prestigious Dmitri Mitropoulos International Competition for Young Conductors, entitling him to become assistant conductor to the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein.

That same year, he was invited for the first time to conduct the National Iranian Radio-Television Chamber Orchestra at the Shiraz Festival of the Arts. Later, he was solicited to take over the Tehran Symphony Orchestra (TSO) as Music Director and Principal Conductor. Through proper programming, recruitment of musicians, and assiduous work, he brought the level of the orchestra to an international standard, putting Tehran on the musical map of the world.

He also continued guest-conducting some of the major international orchestras in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. His understanding and ease with contemporary music brought him many invitations to participate in highly acclaimed festivals in Venice, Rome, Paris, Lisbon, and elsewhere. His attachment and love for the Italian culture earned him the honor of being one of the youngest individuals ever to be awarded the title of Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Location: The Nour Foundation Gallery (11/6/2008, 12/18/2008 & 2/5/2009)
322 West 108th Street, New York, NY 10025