OP0560. DER JASAGER (Kurt Weill- Bertolt Brecht), w.Siegfried Kohler Cond. Düsseldorf Chamber Orchestra & Düsseldorf Children's Chorus; Willibald Vohla, Josef Protschka, Hans Markus, Alfons Holte, Lys Bert Symonette,etc.; ANAHID AJEMIAN, w.Izler Solomon Cond. MGM Wind Orchestra: Violin Concerto; ARTHUR WINOGRAD Cond. MGM Chamber Orchestra: Lost in the Stars - Gold; Lady in the Dark – Dance of the Tumblers (all Weill) (Recorded under the supervision of Lotte Lenya). US-Polydor 839 727, recorded 1955, w.31pp. Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 042283972728
“The school opera DER JASAGER goes back to the Japanese fable TANIKÔ, a play from the centuries-old Nôh theatre. A shortened English version of the Noh play was translated into German by Elisabeth Hauptmann and made its way to Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. Weill composed DER JASAGER in the first half of 1930, pausing only for the turbulent première of AUFSTIEG UND FALL DER STADT MAHAGONNY on 9 March 1930. The term ‘school opera’ gave Weill a number of possibilities for combining the concepts of ‘education’ and ‘opera’: the opera teaches the composer - or a whole new generation of composers - to approach the operatic genre in a new way. But it is also a question of re-training the process of operatic performance, with the end goal of staging the work so naturally and simply that children become the ideal performers. And finally, Weill also considered ‘school operas’ as meant for use in schools: ‘it is thus essential that a piece for schools should give children the opportunity to learn something, beyond the joy of making music’.”
- Kurt Weill
“A founding member of the Composers String Quartet, Anahid Ajemian also had an active career as a soloist. Praised by critics for the sensitivity, lyricism and tonal control of her playing, she was known for bringing to a wide listenership music by composers including John Cage, Kurt Weill, Carlos Surinach and her fellow Armenian-American Alan Hovhaness. Ms. Ajemian recorded extensively and gave the United States or world premieres of many new works, a number of which - among them Ben Weber’s Sonata da Camera and Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Violin With Percussion Orchestra - were written expressly for her. She also performed frequently with her elder sister, the pianist Maro Ajemian.
She took up the violin as a child, taking lessons at the Institute of Musical Art, a forerunner of the Juilliard School. At the Juilliard Graduate School, where she later studied, her teachers included the eminent Belgian violinist Édouard Dethier. In 1946, Ms. Ajemian was a winner of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation competition, a prestigious musical honor that included a debut recital at Town Hall in Manhattan that year. Reviewing the recital, which included works by Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and Bartok, THE NEW YORK TIMES said that Ms. Ajemian ‘played with fine taste and fine perception’.
With her sister, Ms. Ajemian gave premieres of Hovhaness’ Suite for Violin, Piano and Percussion; Henry Cowell’s Set of Five for Violin, Piano and Percussion; Ernst Krenek’s Double Concerto; and many other works. For years the sisters lived on opposite coasts - Maro in California and Anahid in New York - with each practicing duos to the accompaniment of a tape, recorded by the other and slipped into the mail. They continued their careers through great loss: In 1950, their parents were among the 58 people aboard a Northwest Airlines flight that disappeared over Lake Michigan en route from New York to Seattle. The accident was then the worst commercial aviation disaster in United States history. Despite extensive searching, the wreckage of the flight has never been found.
With the violinist Matthew Raimondi, the violist Bernard Zaslav and the cellist Seymour Barab, Ms. Ajemian founded the Composers String Quartet in the mid-1960s. Their debut concert, at what was then Carnegie Recital Hall in 1965, featured works by Milton Babbitt, Henry Weinberg, Ruth Crawford Seeger (stepmother of the folk singer Pete Seeger) and Stephen D. Fisher. Reviewing the performance in THE TIMES, Raymond Ericson wrote: ‘The quartet clearly deserves its name. Composers are lucky to have it around’. The ensemble, which continued performing worldwide through the 1990s, was in residence at the New England Conservatory and later at Columbia University; Ms. Ajemian was a longtime member of the Columbia faculty. With her husband, George Avakian, a celebrated record producer whom she married in 1948, Ms. Ajemian inaugurated Music for Moderns, a critically esteemed contemporary concert series at Town Hall, in 1957.
Despite her acclaim, Ms. Ajemian was of a generation in which even the world’s most accomplished women were characterized by the news media in terms of marriage, motherhood and the innermost contents of their closets. THE TIMES transgressed thus in a 1975 article about Ms. Ajemian that centered on her wardrobe. Asked about her favorite concert attire, she gave an answer that, while diplomatic, spoke quiet volumes about her concern for that subject amid the urgent imperative of bringing contemporary music to the public. ‘The outfit was a chiffony thing’, Ms. Ajemian replied, by ‘some designer’.”
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 30 June, 2016