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Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor op. 18
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67
Manfred Honeck has served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the season 2008/2009. After two extensions his contract will now run until the end of the 2019/2020 season. His successful work in Pittsburgh is captured on CD by the Japanese label Exton. So far, Mahlerʼs Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5, Tchaikovskyʼs Symphony No. 5 and Richard Straussʼs Ein Heldenleben have been released to critical acclaim. The recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 has won an ICMA 2012 Award.
With great success, Manfred Honeck and his orchestra present themselves regularly to the European audience. Since 2010, annual tour performances have led them to numerous European music capitals and major music festivals, amongst them Rheingau Musik Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Musikfest Berlin, Grafenegg Festival, Lucerne Festival and the BBC Proms. The 2012 tour focused on a weeklong residency at the Vienna Musikverein. In August and September 2013, concerts took place in Grafenegg, Berlin, Bucharest, Paris, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Lucerne and Bonn.
From 2007 to 2011, Manfred Honeck was Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart where he conducted premieres including Berliozʼs Les Troyens, Mozartʼs Idomeneo, Verdiʼs Aida, Richard Straussʼs Rosenkavalier, Poulencʼs Dialogues des Carmélites and Wagnerʼs Lohengrin and Parsifal as well as numerous symphonic concerts. His operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera of Copenhagen, the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival.
Born in Austria, Manfred Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp.
He commenced his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early stations of his career include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Oslo, where he assumed the post of Music Director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and, following a highly successful tour of Europe, was engaged as Principal Guest Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for several years. From 2000 to 2006 he was Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he will resume for another three years starting with the season 2013/2014.
As a guest conductor Manfred Honeck has worked with leading international orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the USA include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is also a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. In February 2013 he gave his successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the direct result of which was a CD recording together with Anne-Sophie Mutter (works of Dvořák) for Deutsche Grammophon. In the season 2013/2014 he returned to Bamberg, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Rome, amongst others, and made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In 2010, Manfred Honeck earned an honorary doctorate from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Moreover, he has been Artistic Director of the “International Concerts Wolfegg” in Germany for more than fifteen years.
One of the finest composer-pianists of all time, Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (1873–1943) did not have a carefree childhood – an unfavorable family situation had a negative effect on his mental health. After the poor reception of his First Symphony in D minor in October 1897 young Rachmaninoff fell into a period of deep depression and had to undergo medical treatment for several years. When at the turn of the century Rachmaninoff completed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in C minor Op. 18, he dedicated it with gratitude to his doctor Nikolai Dahl, thanks to whom he recovered his confidence and was eventually able to compose again.
The first performance of the concerto, at which only the second and third movements were heard, took place in Moscow in December 1900 with Rachmaninoff at the piano and Alexander Siloti as the conductor. The full piece was enthusiastically received a year later at its premiere given by the same musicians and this piano concerto in three movements has since become one of the most popular and frequently played concertos by Rachmaninoff.
Shortly after finishing his Third Symphony in 1804, Ludwig van Beethoven began the first sketches of a work which would further develop the same idea – a fight crowned with a happy victory. The final preparation of Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67, which came out of these sketches, took place in 1807–1808. It was first performed at a concert in the Theater an der Wien on 22 December 1808. In his Fifth Symphony Beethoven continued his efforts to compose a symphony as a compact music form culminating from the beginning to the end. Beethoven interconnected all movements by a recurring theme – the ominous four-note opening motif which he himself allegedly described as “fate knocking at the door”. It is characteristic that this symphony in four movements has been composed in C minor, the key which in the older Baroque affect aesthetics expressed sadness and tribulation, which has been an attribute of deepest tragedy in a number of previous works by Beethoven from Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II through Sonata “Pathetique” to the funeral march from the above-mentioned Third Symphony.
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