On the Record – Theodore Harvey


Associate principal cellist Theodore Harvey (Holly & Tom Mayer Chair) shares his knowledge of all things royal and reflects on the nostalgia of his favorite music.

Theodore Harvey_Associate Principal Cello_Holly & Tom Mayer Chair_Dallas Symphony

DVOŘÁK: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191

“This is, I think, not a very unusual choice, as I think it’s many people’s favorite cello concerto.  Certainly, its combination of melodic beauty and technical virtuosity is striking… One of the reasons why it’s such a beloved cello concerto is that it’s a fantastic piece for the orchestra as well… There’s a passage at the beginning of the middle section of the first movement, in g-sharp minor, when the cello plays very softly with string tremolos, and I remember, long ago in Indianapolis, hearing Rostropovich play that with the Indianapolis Symphony and just being overwhelmed by his soft playing.  I don’t think I had ever heard anyone play both so softly and so powerfully at the same time.”

HERBERT HOWELLS:  Gloucester Service, Magnificat

“I wanted to pick something that represented the choral side of my life…. particularly the peculiar Anglican tradition of choral evensong, which is a service that is sung almost every day in English cathedrals, and because it’s a daily service, but ideally with different music, there’s a huge amount of music that has been written, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries for this particular service by English composers.  It’s all the same text, ‘Magnificat and Nunc dimittis’ — the Latin names for two passages of the Bible — and the Howells’ Gloucester Service, there’s so many fantastic canticles, but this is one that is just one of my favorites.  I think it evokes a sense of longing and the love that I have for England and its cathedrals.  I feel like you can sense the gothic architecture in the music.” 

HANDEL:  Coronation Anthem No. 1, HWV 258, Zadok the Priest

“This was a piece that not only do I love very much in a musical way, but I wanted to pick something that reflected my love of the British monarchy and its traditions.  This is an anthem that Handel — who though from Germany, was a naturalized British subject —  wrote for the coronation of King George II in 1727, and it was so popular that it’s been sung at every British coronation since then… It’s particularly celebrated musically, I think, for its remarkable, unassuming, deceptively quiet introduction with arpeggios in the strings, after which suddenly the full orchestra and the full chorus come in with this huge D major chord on the word ‘Zadok,’ and it’s a breathtaking moment, even if you know what’s coming.”

TCHAIKOVSKY:  The Nutcracker

“This is probably the longest that I’ve loved any piece of music, because, according to my mother, I first fell in love with the Nutcracker ballet when I was two… When you think of works of that length, about two hours of music or more, I think it’s one of the most consistently brilliant pieces of music of that length that I can think of.  It’s just from beginning to end, glorious music.  I tend to be very picky about actual performances of it because a lot of ballet choreographers like to switch the order of dances or cut things or add things from other ballets, and I’m very much a Nutcracker purist.  I think the score is absolutely perfect the way Tchaikovsky wrote it.” 

J.S. BACH: Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565

“It’s probably one of the most famous pieces for organ. There’s some controversy about it because some people claim that it was not actually written by Bach.  I like to think that it was.  If it was, it’s probably a very early, youthful work… What I remember about that from my childhood was that Bach wrote a second Toccata and Fugue in D minor which is not as famous called the ‘Dorian’, but the only one I knew as a child was the famous one, BWV 565.  My mom took me to an organ recital by an organist named Joan Lippincott, and it had been advertised as Toccata and Fugue in D minor, but as it turned out, much to my horror, she was playing the other one! And as a child I did not want to hear that, I wanted to hear the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor and I cried and had to be taken out… I did eventually learn to appreciate the other one as well.”

Listen to other episodes of On The Record with Sarah Kienle: