The New York Philharmonic

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Open Rehearsal

This concert is now past.
Christoph von Dohnanyi
Location: Avery Fisher Hall (Directions)
Price Range: $18.00
Thu, Jan, 31, 2013
9:45 AM
All Open Rehearsals are “working” rehearsals and therefore the program may not be played in its entirety. Additionally, we cannot guarantee the appearance of any soloist at an Open Rehearsal.
The 2014-15 Season

Program (Click the red play button to listen)


Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus

Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus (1801)

None other than the most powerful woman in the world at the time, the Hapsburg Empress, Maria Theresia, commissioned the 30 year-old Ludwig van Beethoven to compose a ballet on the subject of Prometheus. The creator of the scenario and choreographer was the renowned Neopolitan Salvatore Vigamò (1769-1821), master of the ballet at the Viennese court. His third production was The Creatures of Prometheus, an allegory that tells the story of the Greek demigod who stole fire from the gods. The playbill at the premiere provided the story: "Prometheus is a lofty spirit who, finding the human beings of his time in a state of ignorance, refined them through art and knowledge and gave them laws of right conduct... The ballet presents two animated statues who, by the power of harmony, are susceptible to the passions of human existence. Prometheus takes them to Parnassus, to receive instruction from Apollo, god of the arts, who commands Amphion, Arion, and Orpheus to teach them music; Melpomene and Thalia, tragedy and comedy. Terpsichore aids Pan, who introduces them to the Pastoral Dance, which he has invented, and from Bacchus they learn his invention — the Heroic Dance." The two-act ballet consists of an overture, an introduction, fifteen dance numbers, and a finale. Despite some "artistic differences" between the choreographer and Beethoven that were eventually sorted out, their collaboration was hugely successful. While the ballet is no longer performed, Beethoven "recycled" some of the music into other works, and the overture has had a post-ballet life as a popular curtain raiser at symphony concerts.

Piano Concerto No. 1

Piano Concerto No. 1 (1795, rev. 1800)

Beethoven’s reputation as a piano virtuoso was already well established in Vienna by the time he premiered his Piano Concerto No. 1 (actually composed second, but so numbered because it was published first). He left us no fewer than three cadenzas for the first movement alone — a reminder that he was aware of his own prodigious pianistic abilities and how these might translate into income-producing performances. Things to note as you listen include the very long orchestral introduction, after which the piano finally enters: some Mozart-inspired measures, followed by cascading keyboard runs; an introspective and deeply felt lyrical slow movement; and a spirited concluding Rondo. Perhaps you will agree with Beethoven’s fellow composer, Johann Tomášek, who was deeply affected upon hearing this music: “stirred me strangely to the depths of my soul; indeed I found myself so profoundly shaken that I did not touch my piano for several days.”


Symphony No. 5

Symphony No. 5 (1808)

"Thus fate knocks at the door!" Whether this attribution to Ludwig van Beethoven about the four opening chords of his grand Fifth is true or not, no one really knows, but the pulse "ba-ba-ba-BAH" is practically embedded in our DNA. No other symphony has such instant recognition. Rising from this unmistakable four-note motif, its euphoric path transports the listener from tragedy to triumph, from darkness into the light. The creation of the Fifth extended over five years, a period when Beethoven was confronting his growing deafness, unhappy love affairs, and other personal crises. Its Viennese premiere took place under less than favorable circumstances: a marathon benefit concert sponsored by Beethoven himself, in the depth of winter, in an unheated concert hall, with a program totaling about four hours. A musician playing that night quipped: "There we continued, in the bitterest cold from half past six to half past ten, and experienced the truth that one can easily have too much of a good thing-and still more of the loud." The symphony's birth was difficult, as Leonard Bernstein observed: "The man rejected, rewrote, scratched out, tore up, and sometimes altered a passage as often as twenty times. Beethoven's manuscript looks like a bloody record of a tremendous inner battle." Nevertheless, its transition from C Minor to C Major during its mighty course — shouted out joyfully and repeatedly at the climax — brings the immortal Fifth to a glorious ending.(Pop culture note: parts of the Fifth were used in movies as diverse as The Longest Day, Saturday Night Fever, Howard's End, and Fight Club.)


Christoph von Dohnanyi

Christoph von Dohnányi is recognized as one of the world’s pre-eminent orchestral and opera conductors. His appointments have included opera directorships in Frankfurt and Hamburg, and principal orchestral posts in England and Germany, as well as in Paris. He continues a longstanding partnership with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, where he served as principal conductor and artistic adviser for ten years and is honorary conductor for life. For 20 years he served as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Dohnányi began the 2014–15 season with concerts with the Philharmonia at the Salzburg Festival. In Europe he leads the Orchestre de Paris, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In the U.S. he returns to conduct two subscription weeks with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Upon completing his tenure in Cleveland, Mr. Dohnányi led major orchestras in the United States and now enjoys ongoing relationships with the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and, as music director laureate, Cleveland. Recent highlights include all-Beethoven and all-Brahms concerts with Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia, the complete Beethoven piano concertos with Yefim Bronfman and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the complete Brahms symphonies with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mr. Dohnányi frequently leads productions at Covent Garden, La Scala, and Vienna Staatsoper, as well as in Berlin and Paris. He has led the Vienna Philharmonic in many Salzburg Festival appearances, including the World Premieres of Henze’s Die Bassariden and Cerha’s Baal. He also regularly appears with the Zurich Opera and with the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. He has made critically acclaimed recordings for London/Decca with The Cleveland Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic. With Vienna, he recorded a variety of symphonic works and a number of operas, including Beethoven’s Fidelio, Berg’s Wozzeck and Lulu, Richard Strauss’s Salome, and Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. With The Cleveland Orchestra his discography includes concert performances and recordings of Wagner’s Die Walküre and Das Rheingold; the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, and Schumann; symphonies by Bruckner, Dvořák, Mahler, Mozart, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky; and works by, among others, Bartók, Berlioz, Ives, Varèse, and Webern.

Learn more about Christoph von Dohnányi



Radu Lupu by Zdenek Chrapek

Pianist Radu Lupu is widely acknowledged as a leading interpreter of the works of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Schubert. Since winning the Van Cliburn (1966) and Leeds Piano Competitions (1969), Mr. Lupu has regularly performed as soloist and recitalist in the musical capitals and major festivals of Europe and the United States.

Mr. Lupu's first major American appearances were in 1972 with The Cleveland Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim in New York, and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Carlo Maria Giulini. Concerts with the New York Philharmonic soon followed and Mr. Lupu has since appeared with all of the foremost American orchestras. This season his annual winter tour includes concerts with the orchestras of Cleveland, Boston, and the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) as well as the National Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic; he also gives recitals for Friends of Chamber Music in Kansas City and the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in Michigan. Recent orchestral engagements include the London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Colin Davis, Berlin Philharmonic with Bernard Haitink, and a tour of Germany with Zurich's Tonhalle Orchestra and David Zinman.

Mr. Lupu has made more than 20 recordings for London/Decca, including the complete Beethoven concertos with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta, the complete Mozart violin and piano sonatas with Szymon Goldberg, and numerous solo recordings of works by Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert. His recording of Schubert sonatas received a Grammy Award in 1995. He has also recorded for the Sony Classical, EMI, and Teldec labels.

Born in Romania in 1945, Radu Lupu began studying the piano at the age of six, and made his public debut with a complete program of his own music at twelve. He won first prize in the 1967 Enescu International Competition. In 1989 and in 2006 he was awarded the prestigious "Abbiati" prize given by the Italian Critics' Association. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Premio Internazionale Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli award.


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