Friday, July 24, 2009

Mad Men of Music - Season One

Mad Men begins in the early 1960s at the “Sterling Cooper advertising agency” on New York City's Madison Avenue. The show centers on Don Draper, a high-level advertising creative director, and the people in his life in/out of the office. It also depicts the changing social mores of 1960s America.
So any good ad man like Don, Bertram or Roger would have gone to the New York Philharmonic besides the cool clubs and restaurants we see them on the show.
They would have taken clients, wives and girlfriends over on 57th Street to Carnegie Hall (where the NY Phil played at in 1960) and heard some remarkable music. [Many of the concerts listed here were recorded by the Philharmonic for CBS (now Sony) Masterworks.]
So without further ado, here are the ten concerts that the folks at Sterling Cooper would have gone to see and hear.
Mad Men of Music! Season One
The first concert would have been a no brainer, help out the NYP Musicians' Pension fund with conductor Leonard Bernstein and soloist Issac Stern. The gala was on September 27, 1960 and was quite a program:
Bernstein : Candide Overture
Roy Harris: Symphony No. 3
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

Then in October (13-16) the Philharmonic celebrated the 50th birthdays of William
Schuman and Samuel Barber! Bernstein was joined by Aaron Rosand in this program:
Schuman: Symphony No. 3
Barber: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14
Schumann: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Rhenish, Op. 97

Also later in October 1960 (20-23) they would have caught a world premiere by Lukas
Foss. Bernstein was joined by Leonard Rose, Lukas Foss and his Improv Chamber Ensemble Ensemble in this program:
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129
Foss: Time Cycle, for Soprano and Orchestra
Mendelssohn: Overture to Ruy Blas, Op. 95

No doubt before the agency staff took time out to have some turkey, they would have been at this concert in November 1960 with Aaron Copland and concertmaster John Corigliano, Sr.:
Gluck: Iphigénie in Aulis Overture
Franchetti : Largo for Strings, in memoriam
Dvorak: Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53
Copland: Symphonic Ode
Copland: El Salón México

In December, the weather outside might have been frightful (there were several airline
accidents that winter the area), but the ad men would have warmed up to the Second Viennese School with Hans Rosbaud and pianist Rudolf Firkusny:
Schoenberg: Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16
Webern: Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
Hindemith: Concerto for Orchestra, Op. 38
Brahms: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15

Early in 1961, Duck and Freddy would have recovered from any New Year's festivities and might have taken the gals to hear Morton Gould play one of his own works, conducted by Paul Paray:
Rossini: La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder) Overture
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43
Gould: Dialogues for Piano and String Orchestra
Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust (The Damnation of Faust), Op. 24 / Ballet Des Sylphes / Menuet de Follets (Minuet of the Will-o'-the-Wisps) / Rakoczy March (Hungarian March)
Liszt: Les Préludes

No doubt everyone would have wanted to catch the hot red head soprano Beverly
Sills (gotta see Bubbles!) when she joined Andre Kostalanetz in early February 1961:
Chabrier: España, Rhapsody for Orchestra
Falla: El Sombrero de Tres Picos (The Three-Cornered Hat) / PART II
Granados: Goyescas / Interlude / The Maja and the Nighting
ale, Rosario (aria)
Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Una voce poco fa, Rosina (cavatina)
Albéniz: Excerpts for Orchestra, from Iberia / Fête-Dieu à Séville
Marquina: España Cani
Ponce: Estrellita (Little Star)
Lara: Granada
Traditional: La Morena di mi Copla
Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34
Benjamin: Jamaican Rhumba
Traditional: La Bamba de Vera Cruz
Falla: La vida breve, Spanish Dance No. 1

In March 1961, The gals would have been interested in Glenn Gould, and no doubt the guys would have been happy to hear soprano Marni Nixon. Bernstein also had some great new works on the program too:
Boulez: Pli selon pli: Improvisations sur Mallarmé / Une dentelle s'abolit US PREMIERE
Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

Thrills were to be had with the April 1961 program that would have made the Sterling Cooper staff give a standing ovation to Lorin Hollander who joined Leonard Bernstein in this program:
Chávez: Sinfonía india (Symphony No. 2)
Khachaturian: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major,
Op. 100

Father Gill and Peggy might have been soothed and shocked by the program in mid April (Easter was April 17, these concerts were April 13-16) with soloist Zino Francescatti, guest conductor
Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein:
Mayuzumi: Bacchanale
Brahms: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 77
Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of

Ten concerts that Mad Men would have caught with new music in New York City...I also imagine since the
Philharmonic was playing at Carnegie Hall, they might have stopped at The Russian Tea Room. In 1955, the restaurant was purchased by Sidney Kaye, who, in 1967, left the restaurant to his widow, Faith Stewart-Gordon. No doubt Sterling Cooper Agency had a booth, and were known by name when they came in with a client or date.

Stay tuned for Mad Men of Music, Season Two...and coming up in August 2009, the third Season of Mad Men will have another list of concerts with new music!!!!

In the meantime, enjoy this original and mad composer, Peter Maxwell Davies - and one of the Eight Songs for a Mad King!

Concerts were compiled from the NY Philharmonic website.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Thanks, John, for the entertaining post. It's a real window into the past. I'd love to hear more Schuman, Harris, and the like today. I posted my thoughts on my blog at