Saturday, November 12, 2011

Joshua Russell: “I will perform the Haitian concerto, 'Fantaisie Tropicale' by Justin Elie twice next weekend"

[Justin Elie, Cover photo of sheet music for Nostalgie]

On Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 AfriClassical posted: “Dubuque Telegraph Herald says Justin Elie's 'Tropical Fantasy' has been 'Unheard for 80 years.'” We have asked pianist Joshua Russell for more information on his performance of Justin Elie's long-neglected work for piano and orchestra Fantaisie Tropicale (Tropical Fantasy). The Justin Elie (1883-1931) page at includes a Works list by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,, and also quotes biographer Michael Largey:

Unfortunately, the work that might have secured Elie's name in the memories of concert-going audiences in the United States was never published. His Fantaisie Tropicale (1930) is a single-movement work for piano that was first performed on 13 July 1930 by Bolivian pianist Lolita Cabrera in a concert sponsored by the General Electric Company..."

The pianist Joshua Russell has graciously replied to our request for information:
“Hi Bill,
Great to hear from you! I was just going to get an email out to you this weekend. I will perform the Haitian concerto, "Fantaisie Tropicale" by Justin Elie twice next weekend with the Dubuque Symphony. I am also playing the Gottschalk "Grande Tarantella for Piano and Orchestra." The concerts are Saturday, Nov. 19, and Sunday Nov., 20. For info. about the concert, you can visit the Dubuque Symphony home page:

I will keep you posted with more info. about this.
Thank you!
Joshua Russell

Dr. Joshua Russell
Concert Pianist

Pianist Joshua Russell has made a brief YouTube video (1:25) in which he discusses the history of Justin Elie's Fantaisie Tropicale, and speaks of the “exciting revival” of a “wonderful work.” The video can be reached from the Dubuque Symphony website or from this link:

Here are some other excerpts from
Dubuque Symphony Orchestra

Classics 2

William Intriligator, conductor

November 19, 2011 7:30pm
November 20, 2011 2:00pm
Five Flags Theater


Coleridge-Taylor: The Bamboula: Rhapsodic Dance

Gottschalk: Grande Tarantelle
Joshua Russell, piano

Elie: Tropical Fantasy
Joshua Russell, piano

Dvorák: Symphony No. 7

Márquez: Danzon No. 2

The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra takes you on a musical journey around the world. The program begins with a "rhapsodic dance" inspired by Coleridge-Taylor's African heritage. Pianist Joshua Russell then takes the stage for two selections: Grande Tarantelle, a brief and explosive showcase for piano, and Tropical Fantasy, a single-movement work by Haitian composer Justin Elie. Tropical Fantasy was performed only once before in 1930. Russell, who assembled the score and parts for the piece after receiving the music from the composer's widow, describes it as "Gershwin meets Latin-America and the Caribbean." Also on the program is Dvorak's Seventh Symphony and Mexican composer Marquez's Danzon No. 2.

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