Artworks that inspired Adam Schoenberg’s Picture Studies

An hour before each of the SLSO’s mid-March 2024 “Romeo and Juliet” concerts, I will lead Pre-Concert Conversations. For these presentations (Saturday, 16 March, 6:30 p.m. & Sunday, 17 March, 2:00 p.m.), I’m honored that the renowned American composer Adam Schoenberg has agreed to join me onstage at the Stifel Theatre to discuss his 2012 orchestral work, Picture Studies, which the SLSO and The Big Muddy Dance Company will perform on these concerts.

Picture Studies is a “21st-century Pictures at an Exhibition” — like Modest Mussorgsky‘s 19th-century piano suite frequently performed in Maurice Ravel‘s splendid orchestration, Adam Schoenberg’s composition was inspired by several works of visual art. Picture Studies was commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Please find below links to the Nelson-Atkins Museum’s webpages for each of the artworks that provided the impetus for Adam Schoenberg’s musical responses:

1. Intro

Features the piano — a reference to Mussorgsky’s “Promenade” from Pictures at an Exhibition)

2. Three Pierrots

Albert Bloch (American, 1882 – 1961): Die drei Pierrots Nr. 2 (The Three Pierrots No. 2) (1911) — Oil on canvas

3. Repetition

Kurt Baasch (American, born Venezuela, 1891 – 1964): Repetition (1913) — Platinum print

4. Olive Orchard

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 – 1890): Olive Trees (1889) — Oil on canvas

5. Kandinsky

Vasily Kandinsky (French, b. Russia, 1866 – 1944): Rose with Gray (1924) — Oil on pulpboard

6. Calder’s World

Alexander Calder (American, 1898 – 1976): Untitled (1936) — Painted metal, wood, and wire

7. Miró

Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893 – 1983): Women at Sunrise (1946) — Oil on canvas

8. Interlude (slightly varied reprise of the Intro)

9. Cliffs of Moher

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born 1948): Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher (1989) — Triple-tone lithograph

10. Pigeons in Flight

Francis Blake (American, 1850 – 1913): Pigeons in Flight (1889) — Gelatin silver print