The New York Philharmonic

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Concerts in the Parks - Prospect Park, Brooklyn
This concert is now past.
Location: Prospect Park  (Directions)
Price Range: Free
Wed, Jul, 9, 2014
8:00 PM
Priceless Music, Absolutely Free

Enter at Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park West at 9th Street or Bartel-Pritchard Circle at the intersection of Prospect Park West, Prospect Park Southwest, and 15th Street.
Concerts in the Parks - Prospect Park


  (Click the red play button to listen)
RICHARD STRAUSS (1864 -1949)
Don Juan (1888)

The legend of the notorious lover, Don Juan, has been grist for literary and musical mills for centuries. But the brilliant score by the then-just-24-year-old Richard Strauss, already at the top of his game, shows us a Don who is different from most versions of him. Unlike Mozart’s more traditional image of the libertine in Don Giovanni, for example, Strauss’s depiction is based on an unfinished verse-play (written in 1844, published posthumously in 1851) by the dramatist/poet Nikolaus Lenau (1802-1850), in which the world-weary hero tires of his search for the ideal of womanhood. In the brief span of around 16 or 17 minutes of intense music, Strauss depicts Don Juan’s character in a flurry of upward-rushing notes—as if he were setting out on yet another quest. Exquisitely beautiful music shows him in two sensuous love scenes. And in eerily scored, shuddering gestures he allows himself to be killed in a duel—an unceremonious demise for the iconic Don. Strauss always demands extraordinary virtuosity from orchestras, and players love to perform his works. The composer wrote to his father (himself a horn player) about the challenges of this tone poem for the Weimar orchestra, which “huffed and puffed…One of the horn players sat there, out of breath, sweat pouring from his brow, asking ‘Good God, in what have we sinned that you should send us this scourge!’…I was really sorry for the wretched brass. They were quite blue in the face; the whole affair was so strenuous.” Think of that, as you listen to Don Juan’s brilliant signature horn calls.
Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks
Vyšehrad from Má vlast
Romeo and Juliet, Overture-Fantasy
Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture after Shakespeare (1869; rev. 1870 and 1880)

Though Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky dipped into the Shakespeare canon several times for inspiration, it is his impassioned treatment of the tale of the star-crossed lovers that is the best known of these. And he was not alone in that choice. None of the Bard's other plays has inspired more musical works... several operas, the most well-known being Gounod's opera Romeo et Juliette, Berlioz's dramatic symphony Roméo et Juliette, Prokofiev's unforgettable ballet score, and Leonard Bernstein's 20th century take on the drama, West Side Story, to name a few. Some years after his first version of the Fantasy-Overture Tchaikovsky toyed with the idea of composing an opera on the subject of Romeo and Juliet, but it never came to be. It was his compatriot Mily Balakirev who first suggested the subject to Tchaikovsky, giving advice — one might say to an insufferable degree — on what themes and key signatures he should use, the musical structure, up to providing him with the opening bars of the composition. But with this work — especially after his revisions — Tchaikovsky came into his own and found his true voice. Tchaikovsky's conflicted and angst-ridden romantic life at the time probably made him ripe for the subject as well, condensing Shakespeare's tragedy into just 20 minutes. The music follows the main strands of the tale, weaving together the themes of the feuding families and the impassioned young lovers. An ominous chorale opening symbolizes Friar Laurence and leads into violent crashes of conflict; finally, the great love theme is heard, and after repeated, heart-beat-like timpani strikes that slowly die away, the soaring love theme returns (now harmonically turned upside down) only to be cut off by the final dramatic cadence.


Alan Gilbert

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert began his tenure in September 2009. The first native New Yorker to hold the post, he has sought to make the Orchestra a point of pride for the city and country. “He is building a legacy that matters and is helping to change the template for what an American orchestra can be,” The New York Times praised.

Mr. Gilbert and the Philharmonic have forged artistic partnerships, introducing the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, held in the 2013–14 season by Christopher Rouse and pianist Yefim Bronfman, respectively; an annual festival, which this season is The Beethoven Piano Concertos; CONTACT!, the new-music series, extending its reach this season with more concerts in new venues across the city; and, beginning in the spring of 2014, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today’s music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers.

In the 2013–14 season Alan Gilbert conducts Mozart’s three final symphonies; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film is screened, as part of THE ART OF THE SCORE: Film Week at the Philharmonic; the U.S. Premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze coupled with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; world premieres; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer’s centennial; and a staged production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. He also continues The Nielsen Project, the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer’s symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by The New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012. The Music Director will preside over the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour, with stops including Tokyo and Seoul, featuring Artist-in-Residence Yefim Bronfman performing Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse’s Rapture, and Alan Gilbert narrating Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra in Japanese at a Young People’s Concert in Tokyo.

Last season’s highlights included Bach’s B-minor Mass and Ives’s Fourth Symphony, and, during the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour, participating in the Vienna Konzerthaus’s centennial and performing Lindberg’s Kraft and Rouse’s Prospero’s Rooms at the Volkswagen Transparent Factory. The season concluded with A Dancer’s Dream, a multidisciplinary reimagining of Stravinsky’s The Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka, created by Giants Are Small and starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns.

High points of Mr. Gilbert’s first three Philharmonic seasons included the critically celebrated productions of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (2010) and Janácek’s Cunning Little Vixen (2011) — both cited as the top cultural events of their respective years — and Philharmonic 360 (2012), the acclaimed spatial music program featuring Stockhausen’s Gruppen.  Other highlights include World Premieres of works by Magnus Lindberg, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, and composers featured on CONTACT!; Mahler’s Second Symphony, Resurrection, on A Concert for New York on September 10; Mr. Gilbert’s Philharmonic debut as violin soloist in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins; five concerts at Carnegie Hall; five tours to Europe; and the Asia Horizons tour.

In September 2011 Alan Gilbert became Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, where he is also the first holder of Juilliard’s William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras nationally and internationally, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic. His 2013–14 season engagements include appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Munich Philharmonic, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and Orchestre National de Lyon.

Alan Gilbert made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 2008 leading John Adams’s Doctor Atomic; the DVD and Blu-ray of this production received the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. Renée Fleming’s recent Decca recording Poèmes, on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. Earlier releases garnered Grammy Award nominations and top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine.

Mr. Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and Juilliard and was assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra (1995–97). In May 2010 he received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Curtis, and in December 2011 he received Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award for his “exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music.” In 2014 he was elected to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Visit Alan Gilbert's Official Website

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Concert Duration

1 hour 30 minutes

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Special Thanks

The New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks are presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer.

Major Corporate Support by Time Warner, Inc.

Major Foundation Support by The Ford Foundation.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Additional support provided by the Herman Goldman Foundation, The Marc Haas Foundation, and other generous donors.

The Concerts in the Parks are presented in cooperation with the City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation, Bill de Blasio, Mayor; Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, Commissioner; the Borough Presidents; and the City Council of New York.

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