Reflections on a wonderful study book

The echoes of our musical culture I think there is still distant for today’s young generations. Of course, we know little of the distant or recent past of our musical history, but what we do know remains in some notes published by dedicated historians. They are  little propagated, little known by young people, and little found in the subjects our academic. One of these authors is Tonin Zadeja, a distinguished researcher, who was  silent and informed, as scrupulous as he is interesting in what he has written. In 2006, at the initiative of the researcher Sokol Shupo, the book “Cultural Life of Shkodra” (mid-19th century – mid-20th century) was published within the series Mvsica Albanica, Studies and Documents II framework. In addition to the many details of this valuable book, we find this paragraph, which reflects on the activities of the Music Branch of the “Rozafa” Society of Shkodra: The last concert we know, but also one of the most accomplished musically, was the jubilee concert of the 25th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on the eve of the 28th of November 1937. The program was divided into two parts: 1) Willi Kuhn – Fliegermarch, 2) A. Teller – Czibuka – Herzer und Blumen (Walzer), and continuing with the numbers closes with: 14) A. Adam Si j’etais guard (Ouverture).

To our curiosity we sought this work and heard a very dynamic, colorful and wonderful Overture.

Adolphe Charles Adam 1803 –  1856) was a French composer and music critic. A prolific composer of operas and ballets, he is best known today for his ballets Giselle (1841) and Le corsaire (1856, his last work), his operas Le postillon de Lonjumeau (1836), Le toréador (1849) and Si j’étais roi (1852) and his Christmas carol Minuit, chrétiens! (1844), later set to different English lyrics and widely sung as “O Holy Night” (1847). Adam was a noted teacher, who taught Delibes and other influential composers. Overture “Si j’étais Roi” (1852) BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier Si j’étais roi (English: If I Were King) is an opéra-comique in three acts by Adolphe Adam. The libretto was written by Adolphe d’Ennery and Jules-Henri Brésil. It was first performed in Paris at the Théâtre Lyrique (Théâtre-Historique, Boulevard du Temple) on 4 September 1852, opening with a dual cast to allow performance on successive evenings (it made up half of all performances at the Théâtre Lyrique in the last four months of the year and reached over 170 performances in its first ten years). The production was considered lavish, with expensive costumes and jewels being worn by the cast. It was then staged in Brussels (1853), New Orleans (1856), Turin (1858) and Soerabaya (1864). Though less popular than Le postillon de Lonjumeau, it is often regarded as Adam’s finest work.

Listen to this Overture and imagine that it was executed in 1937 in Shkodra by the Orchestra conducted by Luigj Prela. The lineup at that time contained 6 violins 2 viola, 1 percussion, 1 flute, 1 clarinet, 1 saxophone, 1 trumpet, drums and pianos.

This work is very difficult for the instrumentalists and though simplified by the reporter, it still shows a good technical level, especially in the context of a concert of many works of this level.

Nestor Kraja


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