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Gilbert Conducts Strauss

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Conductor

Alan Gilbert

The 2016–17 season marks Alan Gilbert’s eighth and final season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. 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. The Financial Times called him “the imaginative maestro-impresario in residence.”

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 2016–17 season by Esa-Pekka Salonen and violinist Leonidas Kavakos, respectively — as well as Artist-in-Association, currently held by pianist Inon Barnatan, who inaugurated the role in the 2014–15 season; an annual festival, which this season is Beloved Friend — Tchaikovsky and His World, featuring Russian-born Semyon Bychkov conducting works by Tchaikovsky as well as composers he was influenced by and whom he influenced; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today’s music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers. During his tenure the Philharmonic launched the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, partnerships with cultural institutions to offer training of pre-professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies. These include the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Residency Partnership and collaborations with Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic also launched a five-year partnership with the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan.

Alan Gilbert concludes his final season as Music Director with four programs that reflect signature themes of his tenure, featuring works that hold particular meaning for him and musicians with whom he has formed close relationships. These include a pairing of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw; Wagner’s complete Das Rheingold in concert; the New York Premiere of Composer-in-Residence Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Wing on Wing alongside Artist-in-Residence Leonidas Kavakos in Brahms’s Violin Concerto and the New York Premiere of Aeriality by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, the second Kravis Emerging Composer, an honor introduced during Alan Gilbert’s tenure; and an exploration of how music can effect positive change in the world. Other 2016–17 season highlights include four World Premieres; Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World, as part of the New York Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary celebrations; Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and Handel’s Messiah; the World Premiere presentation of Gershwin’s score to Manhattan, performed live to the film; Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre; a concert with friends celebrating his 50th birthday; works by John Adams marking the composer’s 70th birthday; and the EUROPE / SPRING 2017 tour. As part of the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, he will lead the Orchestra in its third annual performance residency through the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Residency Partnership, and will lead the Philharmonic and Academy Festival Orchestra together in Santa Barbara through the partnership with Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West.

Last season’s Philharmonic highlights included R. Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben to welcome newly appointed Concertmaster Frank Huang; Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary Opening Night Gala; premieres by William Bolcom, Franck Krawczyk, Magnus Lindberg, and Marc Neikrug; works by Sibelius in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth; as well as Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and an all-Mozart program. He also co-curated the second NY PHIL BIENNIAL — during which he conducted works by Boulez and Stucky, in tribute to the late composers, as well as premieres by William Bolcom, John Corigliano, and Per Nørgård, the second recipient of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic, an honor introduced during Alan Gilbert’s tenure. The Music Director also performed violin in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time alongside Philharmonic principals and Mr. Barnatan. Under the New York Philharmonic Global Academy he led the Orchestra in its second performance residency in Shanghai and made his second appearance conducting the Music Academy of the West’s Academy Festival Orchestra.

Previous high points among Mr. Gilbert’s Philharmonic appearances include critically celebrated staged productions such as Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (2010) and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2011), both cited as the top cultural events of their respective years; Philharmonic 360 at Park Avenue Armory (2012), the acclaimed spatial music program featuring Stockhausen’s Gruppen; A Dancer’s Dream: Two Works by Stravinsky (2013, and later presented in movie theaters internationally); a staged production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson that was broadcast on Live From Lincoln Center, earning Mr. Gilbert an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Direction (2014); and the U.S. Premiere of a staging of Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake featuring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (2015). Other highlights include the first two editions of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL; World Premieres of works by Christopher Rouse, Magnus Lindberg, Peter Eötvös , and composers featured on CONTACT!; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey, performed live to the film; Mahler’s Second Symphony, Resurrection, on A Concert for New York on September 10; the Verdi Requiem; the conclusion of The Nielsen Project, the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer’s symphonies and concertos; Mr. Gilbert’s Philharmonic debut as violin soloist in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins; six concerts at Carnegie Hall; and ten tours around the world. In August 2015 he led the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in the U.S. Stage Premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, co-presented by the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center, the inaugural production of the Lincoln Center–New York Philharmonic Opera Initiative.

Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and former principal guest conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras nationally and internationally, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France. He has appeared at The Metropolitan, Los Angeles, Zurich, Royal Swedish, and Santa Fe opera companies. This season Mr. Gilbert returns to the foremost European orchestras, records Beethoven’s complete piano concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Inon Barnatan, and conducts Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, his first time leading a staged opera there.

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. He 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 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. He received his second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Direction for Sinatra: Voice for a Century, broadcast on Live From Lincoln Center in 2015. Mr. Gilbert conducted Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux étoiles on a recent album recorded live at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Alan Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and Juilliard and was assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra (1995–97). He received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Curtis in May 2010 and from Westminster Choir College in May 2016, 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, in 2015 he received a Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy and was named Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2016 he received New York University’s Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City in recognition of his leadership in making New York one of the world’s great centers for music and the arts.

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Violin

Frank Huang
Frank Huang article

 


Frank Huang joined the New York Philharmonic as Concertmaster, The Charles E. Culpeper Chair, in September 2015. The First Prize Winner of the 2003 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation’s Violin Competition and the 2000 Hannover International Violin Competition, he has established a major career as a violin virtuoso. Since performing with the Houston Symphony in a nationally broadcast concert at the age of 11 he has appeared with orchestras throughout the world including The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of Hannover, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, and the Genoa Orchestra. He has also performed on NPR’s Performance Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CNN’s American Morning with Paula Zahn. He has performed at Wigmore Hall (in London), Salle Cortot (Paris), Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), and the Herbst Theatre (San Francisco), as well as a second recital in Alice Tully Hall (New York), which featured the World Premiere of Donald Martino’s Sonata for Solo Violin. Mr. Huang’s first commercial recording — featuring fantasies by Schubert, Ernst, Schoenberg, and Waxman — was released on Naxos in 2003. He made his New York Philharmonic solo debut in June 2016 leading and performing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, as well as leading Grieg’s The Last Spring. In October–November 2016 he performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, led by Pablo Heras-Casado.

Mr. Huang has had great success in competitions since the age of 15 and received top prize awards in the Premio Paganini International Violin Competition and the Indianapolis International Violin Competition. Other honors include Gold Medal Awards in the Kingsville International Competition, Irving M. Klein International Competition, and D’Angelo International Competition.

In addition to his solo career, Mr. Huang is deeply committed to chamber music. He is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, established in the 2016–17 season, and has performed at the Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia’s Steans Institute, Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and Caramoor. He frequently participates in Musicians from Marlboro’s tours, and was selected by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to be a member of the prestigious CMS Two program. Before joining the Houston Symphony as concertmaster in 2010, Frank Huang held the position of first violinist of the Grammy Award–winning Ying Quartet and was a faculty member at the Eastman School of Music.

Frank Huang was born in Beijing, China. At the age of seven he moved to Houston, Texas, where he began violin lessons with his mother. He commenced study with Fredell Lack at the University of Houston and at 16 he enrolled in the pre-college program at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) where he studied with Donald Weilerstein. He continued studies with Weilerstein in college and earned his bachelor of music degree from CIM in 2002. He subsequently attended The Juilliard School in New York City, studying violin with Robert Mann. He is an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West, now a partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, and serves on the faculties of The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, also a New York Philharmonic Global Academy partner, and the University of Houston.

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LA Variations

ESA-PEKKA SALONEN (b. 1958)
LA Variations (1996)

Newsday enthused: “Splashy and stylish debut, calculated to impress.” The Los Angeles Times said: “It is music of immediate appeal and relevance that doesn't need to overthrow Minimalism to get there. This is an important step in musical culture at the end of the century.” In his program notes, Esa-Pekka Salonen explains that the Variations of the title refer to variations on two chords, each of which consists of six notes, together covering all twelve notes of a chromatic scale. Throughout the LA Variations there is a driving, motoric quality that creates a tremendous amount of excitement, especially from the huge percussion forces, led by a nearly constant presence of the timpani. But as the Variations approach the end the piccolo provides a lovely, quiet finale. Our 2015–18 Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Esa-Pekka Salonen created LA Variations as a showcase for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, whose music director he was at the time of its composition. As he said: “I’m very proud of the virtuosity of my orchestra.” It’s easy to hear how he had them in mind in this vibrant and celebratory work. Its premiere in 1997 was enthusiastically received by both audiences and critics alike.

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Ein Heldenleben

RICHARD STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) (1898)

“I do not see why I should not compose a symphony about myself; I find myself quite as interesting as Napoleon or Alexander.” Certainly, modesty was never one of Richard Strauss’s failings, and he wasn’t shy about communicating his high opinion of himself, as we can hear in the expansive musical self-portrait Ein Heldenleben, told in six continuous, frequently romantic, sections. This tone poem is one in a string of heroic portraits Strauss had already composed, only this one is all about the composer himself as hero. If you’re following the score, the brass section alone is one to be reckoned with: eight horns, five trumpets, three trombones, and tenor and bass tubas. And there’s a large battery of percussion instruments that adds to the brawn of the composer’s bravura. Yet bluster and thunder aren’t all that will impress you. There’s the epic opening section — The Hero — (obviously Strauss himself) that leaves listeners nearly breathless with the composer’s signature horn calls; unflattering, snarling sounds from the wind section in the depiction of The Hero’s Adversaries (read: the critics); rapturous solo violin passages that allude to one side of The Hero’s Companion’s personality (Strauss’s temperamental wife, Pauline) that soon evolve into full-orchestra mode playing lush, sensuous love music; The Hero’s Deeds of War is a wild and woolly battle scene full of musical chaos that ends in triumph, of course; musical “selfies” in the section titled The Hero’s Works of Peace remind us of other Strauss compositions; and the finale — The Hero’s Escape from the World and Fulfillment — presents some of the most sublime music Strauss ever created. 

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