School of Music

Valentine's Day with Lantz and Kargul: Victorian Passions

Laura Kargul and Ronald Lantz

Feb 12 concert rescheduled to Sunday, February 19 at 2 p.m.


Violinist Ronald Lantz and pianist Laura Kargul will present another of their popular Valentine’s Day concerts at Woodfords Congregational Church in Portland on Sunday, February 19 at 2:00 p.m. The Feb 12 concert was rescheduled because of snow.

The program, "Victorian Passions," will feature two of the era's most beloved works for violin and piano, the Sonata No. 1 in G Major by Johannes Brahms, and César Franck's Sonata in A Major. The duo will open the concert with the rarely performed Romance No. 3 for Violin and Piano by Clara Schumann.

"The Victorian period was extremely straitlaced," says Kargul. "One of the few accepted ways of expressing heightened, passionate emotions publicly was through the arts. Music, as the most abstract art form, was the ideal vehicle. Composers were able to say, through music, what polite society would not allow to be said."

"Clara Schumann was a pioneer among Victorian women, able to break free of many of the constraints of her time," adds Lantz. "She was trained from an early age to become a concert pianist, traditionally a 'man's career.'  She enjoyed spectacular success and became the primary breadwinner for her large family. And although her great love was Robert Schumann, she also maintained a close lifelong relationship with Brahms, one they took pains to conceal from the prying eyes of Victorian society."

"She was an unrelenting romantic and what she could not say openly in words, she expressed fully in her music," says Kargul. "In her third Romance, where the violin soars over waves of sweeping arpeggios in the piano, words would only get in the way."

"The sonatas of Brahms and Franck portray different types of passion," says Lantz. "Brahms' first sonata is a rhapsodic outpouring of love for Clara Schumann, as well as a nostalgic expression of grief over her dying son, a gifted poet and violinist who was also his godchild. Brahms wrote this work for both of them during the time Clara was caring for Felix. The exquisite poetry and tenderness of this work is poignantly, heartbreakingly beautiful. It's a rare testament to both romantic and familial love."

"The Franck Sonata, on the other hand, more openly expresses pure passion," says Kargul. "Franck presented it as a wedding gift to his friend, the great violinist and composer, Eugène Ysaÿe, a gesture that places the work in the most romantic of settings. Its voluptuous melodies, stormy drama, and tragic, mystical passages lend it the aura of epic storytelling. A perfect piece for Valentine's Day."

Lantz and Kargul formed their duo after performing together for the first time at a Portland String Quartet concert at Woodfords Church in 2010.  Over the years they have appeared in venues near and far, from Maine to Jamaica, Florida to Arizona. They sprinkle their concerts liberally with informative and humorous commentary, enjoying an unusual connection not only with each other but also with their audience.

Ronald Lantz has taught and concertized in over 30 countries as a founding member of the Portland String Quartet. He has also performed with numerous symphony orchestras both as soloist and as principal player, and has served on the faculties of the University of New Hampshire, Bates College, the University of Southern Maine, Bowdoin College, and Colby College, where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree. Mr. Lantz performs on a violin made in Paris in the 1850's by the renowned instrument and bow maker, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.

Laura Kargul is the Director of Keyboard Studies at the University of Southern Maine School of Music. She has appeared as a soloist and collaborative artist throughout Europe and the USA, as well as in Canada and the West Indies, in venues such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Liszt-Haus in Weimar, the Aspen Music Festival, the Evian Festival of Chamber Music and the Chamber Music Festival of Lucca in Italy. She holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Michigan, where she studied with pianists Leon Fleisher and Theodore Lettvin and conductor Gustav Meier.

Tickets are available online from USM at or by phone at (207)780-5555, or by phone from the LARK Society at (207) 761-1522. Tickets are $22 general public; $20 seniors; free for students and/or 21 and under. Subsidized tickets are available from the LARK Society. The concert will be held at Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford Street, Portland.

Sponsored by Dr. Newell and Tenney Augur and Piper Shores

Co-presented by the LARK Society and the University of Southern Maine School of Music.