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Retiring Music Prof to Perform on Custom Instrument

From Saturday, September 29, to Tuesday, October 2, Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor of Music Monica Jakuc will present three performances as part of “A Celebration of an 1819 Graf Replica Fortepiano.”

The concerts are the first in a yearlong series of events celebrating Jakuc's retirement from Smith on June 30, 2008, after 39 years on the faculty.

The Graf replica fortepiano, a 6 ½-octave instrument, was made for Jakuc in 2003 by Paul McNulty, an American instrument builder who now lives in Divisov, Czech Republic. The instrument is a replica of a 19th-century fortepiano made by Conrad Graf, the most celebrated Viennese builder of his time.

All the concerts will take place in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage, and are free and open to the public.

On Saturday, September 29, at 8 p.m., Jakuc will present an all-Schubert concert featuring the Sonata in C Minor, D. 958. One of the three last piano sonatas that Schubert wrote, the C minor is the darkest, featuring an opening theme reminiscent of Beethoven, and a mad tarantella for a final movement. Preceding the sonata, tenor Peter Shea will partner with Jakuc in songs with texts by Goethe. Inspired by the greatest living poet of his time, these songs, written between 1814 and 1816, represent Schubert’s early triumphs in the lied, a genre that he transformed from “pleasant parlor entertainment to an art form almost frightening in its intimate and intense concentration,” according to Shea. The Goethe-lieder will end with The Erlking, one of Schubert’s most powerful, dramatic, and chilling songs.

On Sunday, September 30, at 4 p.m., Ellen Redman, flute, and Kivie Cahn-Lipman, cello, will join Jakuc for a Concert and Conversation on historic and modern pianos. They will play excerpts from the G Minor Trio, Op. 63, by Carl Maria von Weber, with the Graf replica and also with a modern piano, and discuss the differences in the two performances.

On Tuesday, October 2, at 12:30 p.m., the Music in the Noon Hour series will feature Redman, Cahn-Lipman, and Jakuc in a full performance of the Weber Trio in G Minor on the earlier instruments.

Inspired by Malcolm Bilson, Jakuc has performed on early pianos since 1986. She is a frequent guest artist at the E.M. Frederick Collection in Ashburnham, Mass., and was an organizer and performer at the international HaydnFest 1990, co-sponsored by Smith and the Westfield Center for Early Keyboard Studies. As frequent guest performer and board member of Arcadia Players, the Pioneer Valley’s early music ensemble, she has sometimes featured her Graf replica fortepiano in Schubert concerts.

New York audiences first heard Jakuc at Alice Tully Hall in 1980 in "A Program of Twentieth-Century Music for Two Pianos," with colleague Kenneth Fearn, professor emeritus of music at Smith. Her performance of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations at Merkin Hall was hailed by The New York Times as “an auspicious will observe Ms. Jakuc’s career with more than usual interest.” Her 1988 London debut included the premier of a piece written for her by Ronald Perera, the Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor Emeritus of Music. Jakuc has toured Japan and Alaska and appears often on both U.S. coasts. She also delivers lecture-recitals on women composers and has been a featured artist at International Association of Women in Music concerts in London and Washington, D.C.

Jakuc's discography includes fortepiano sonatas by Marianne von Martinez, Marianna von Auenbrugger, and Joseph Haydn on Titanic Records, and Francesca LeBrun's complete Opus 1 Sonatas for fortepiano and violin, with Dana Maiben, on Dorian Discovery. A new CD, Fantasies for Fortepiano, available on, has just been released. It features fantasies by Mozart, C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, and Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Jakuc received bachelors and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School, where she studied with James Friskin and Beveridge Webster. She has also worked with Leon Fleisher, Russell Sherman, and Konrad Wolff, a pupil of Artur Schnabel.

The series of concerts celebrating Jakuc's retirement will continue on November 17 with her solo piano performance with Smith College Orchestra); and a concert on February 24, 2008.

Department of Music press release

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