Concert will be broadcasted on ČT art and streamed on facebook pages of the Czech Philharmonic and other partners on 6th December at 8.15pm. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland it will be available only on Takt1.
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This concert will pay tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born 250 years ago. Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck will lead the Czech Philharmonic in performance of Symphony No. 1. Legendary pianist Rudolf Buchbinder will play Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor. Selection from Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg is also on the programme.
Peer Gynt, selection from suites No. 1 and No. 2 (15')
Morning Mood, Solveig’ s song, Anitra’ s dance, In the Hall of the Mountain King
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K 466 (30')
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 (26')
Rudolf Buchbinder piano
Manfred Honeck conductor
Marek Eben presenter
Concert will be broadcast on ČT art and streamed on facebook pages of the Czech Philharmonic and other partners on 6th December at 8.15pm. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland it will be available only on Takt1.
Rudolf Buchbinder is one of the legendary artists of our time. His piano playing is an unparalleled fusion of the authority of a career spanning more than 60 years with spirit and spontaneity. His renditions are celebrated worldwide for their intellectual depth and musical freedom.
Particularly his renditions of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs works are considered to be exemplary. He has performed the 32 piano sonatas 60 times in cycles all over the world and developed the story of their interpretation over decades. He was the first pianist to play all Beethoven sonatas at the Salzburg Festival during a summer festival. A live recording is available on DVD.
On the occasion of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs 250th birthday in the 2019/2020 concert season, for the first time in its 150-year history, the Vienna Musikverein is giving a single pianist, Rudolf Buchbinder, the honor of performing all five piano concertos by Ludwig van Beethoven in a specially edited cycle. Buchbinderʼs partners in this unprecedented constellation are the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Music Director Andris Nelsons, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Riccardo Muti and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden under their chief conductors Mariss Jansons, Valery Gergiev and Christian Thielemann.
Together with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, Rudolf Buchbinder returned to the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Philharmonie Luxembourg and the Carnegie Hall New York as part of a tour.
A première is the focus of the Beethoven Year 2020. Based on Beethovenʼs Diabelli Variations Op. 120, Rudolf Buchbinder initiated a new cycle of variations on the same waltz by Anton Diabelli, which also forms the basis of Beethovenʼs epochal masterpiece. With Lera Auerbach, Brett Dean, Toshio Hosokawa, Christian Jost, Brad Lubman, Philippe Manoury, Krzysztof Penderecki, Max Richter, Rodion Shchedrin, Johannes Maria Staud, Tan Dun and Jörg Widmann, it was possible to win twelve leading contemporary composers of different generations and backgrounds. The New Diabelli Variations were commissioned by a variety of concert promoters worldwide and with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.
The world première recording of the New Diabelli Variations marks the beginning of Rudolf Buchbinderʼs exclusive partnership with Deutsche Grammophon. At the same time he also presents a new recording of Beethovenʼs Diabelli Variations, which he last recorded in 1976.
Rudolf Buchbinder is an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic, the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He is the first soloist to be awarded the Golden Badge of Honor by the Staatskapelle Dresden.
Buchbinder attaches great importance to source research. His private music collection comprises 39 complete editions of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs piano sonatas as well as an extensive archive of first prints, original editions and copies of the piano scores of both piano concertos by Johannes Brahms.
He has been the artistic director of the Grafenegg Festival since its foundation in 2007. Today, Grafenegg is one of the most influential orchestral festivals in Europe.
Two books by Rudolf Buchbinder have been published so far, his autobiography Da Capo and Mein Beethoven – Leben mit dem Meister. Numerous award-winning recordings on CD and DVD document his career.
For concert dates and further information please visit the homepage www.buchbinder.net
Over the last quarter century, Manfred Honeck has firmly established himself as one of the world’s leading conductors, renowned for his distinctive interpretations and arrangements of a wide range of repertoire. For more than a decade, he has served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, celebrated in Pittsburgh and abroad. Together, they have continued a legacy of music-making that includes several Grammy nominations and a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra serve as cultural ambassadors for the city as one of the most frequently toured American orchestras.
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 have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado and was subsequently engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award. Following early posts at MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, he was appointed Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm. For several years, he also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2007 to 2011, Manfred Honeck was Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart.
As a guest conductor Manfred Honeck has worked with the world’s leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome, and the Vienna Philharmonic, and is a regular guest with all of the major American orchestras. Operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Royal Opera of Copenhagen and the Salzburg Festival.
Manfred Honeck holds honorary doctorates from several North American universities and was awarded the honorary title of Professor by the Austrian Federal President. An international jury of critics selected him as the International Classical Music Awards “Artist of the Year” 2018.
In the Hall of the Mountain King
Edvard Hagerup Grieg is definitely the most prominent figure of Norwegian music. He did not choose an easy path for his musical career. After he learned the fundamentals of piano playing from his mother, his parents sent him to Leipzig to study. From there, he proceeded to the Danish capital Copenhagen, where he became a pupil of the renowned conductor and composer Niels Gade. Grieg soon parted ways with his teacher’s conception of Romanticism, which amounted to salon music more or less, and he decided to “struggle against Gade’s Mendelssohnian, softened Scandinavianism”. He resolved to compose music that presented the typical elements of Norwegian folk style. He carried out his intentions to a great degree in his piano pieces, chamber music, and orchestral works as well as in scores for the theatre. For the most part, however, he wrote music in smaller forms – suites, dances, incidental music etc. Edvard Grieg is best known among music lovers for his famed Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 (he worked on a second piano concerto, but did not complete it) and two suites from the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s drama Peer Gynt. The success of these works was the culmination of his lifelong endeavour to free Norwegian music from the bonds of eclecticism. That success also firmly elevated him to the status of one of the world’s top composers. The character of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt blends juvenile ebullience and tender lyricism. He is defiant, hedonistic and selfish, but he also loves passionately and shuns conventions, and his heart beats with an intense affection for his homeland. Ibsen asked Grieg to write music for his play in January 1874, but the fruit of their collaboration did not gain great acclaim on stage, and the score, containing 22 independent numbers, would in all likelihood have fallen into oblivion, as would the dramatic text itself. Aware of this danger, Grieg took sections from the incidental music and made two four-movement suites. Suite No. 1, Op. 46, dates from 1888, while Suite No. 2, Op. 55, was created three years later. The individual selections are arranged to offer musical contrast rather than to follow the play’s actual story. Suite No. 1 opens with a characteristic, lyrical portrayal of Nordic nature – Morning Mood. Peer Gynt, who has made a great fortune in the slave trade, suddenly pauses in meditation, recalling his native country. Anitra’s Dance evokes an earthy image of Peer’s greed and pleasure-seeking, as he is seduced by a sheikh’s daughter through her erotically seductive dance. The finale of Suite No. 1 takes the listener to the cave of the Mountain King, where Peer Gynt, in a dream-like fantasy, experiences a bold craving for money, gold and gems. Surrounded by dreadful trolls, gnomes and goblins, the hero withstands the courtiers’ pressure to marry the daughter of the Mountain King. From the second suite, we will be hearing the very end – Solveig’s Song. The girl Solveig loves Peer and is willing to wait for him in spite of his blindness and selfishness. Peer runs off to foreign lands. When he returns some years later in a pitiable state, he finds comfort with Solveig.
In early 1785, the 53-year-old Joseph Haydn, already a distinguished composer, told Leopold Mozart: “I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute; he has taste and, what is more, the greatest skill in composition.” At the age of 29, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was going through probably the most successful period of his short life – having been liberated from detested servitude to the Archbishop of Salzburg, he settled in Vienna, established himself there as a phenomenal pianist and composer, and churned out one work after another. He was enjoying his hard-won independence and short-lived financial success. At one of his evening subscription concerts on 11 February 1785, he gave the first performance of his Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor. Concerts in those days were a far cry from today’s solo concerts and recitals. A pianist also had to be a conductor, a skilled improviser, and a composer. Most of the works being performed were new, and the performer would rarely present music written by other composers. Mozart finished composing his Piano Concerto No. 20 just before the concert, as can be seen from a letter Mozart’s father Leopold wrote to the composer’s sister Nannerl: “The concert was incomparable and the orchestra excellent; in addition to the symphonies, a woman from the theatre sang two arias. Then there was a new, excellent concerto by Wolfgang, which the copyist was still finishing when we arrived, and your brother didn’t even have time to play through the Rondeau, because he had to supervise the copying.” Unusually, the concerto is written in a minor key, and its darkly dramatic mood has caused it to be associated with works like the opera Don Giovanni or the Requiem. It consists of three movements: an opening Allegro in sonata form, a central Romance in B flat major (rondo), and a concluding Allegro assai, which combines the sonata and rondo forms. For some of Mozart’s piano concertos including this one, there are no preserved authentic cadenzas by the composer, so other pianists and composers wrote their own cadenzas later, including Ludwig van Beethoven, a great admirer of this concerto, Johannes Brahms, and Bedřich Smetana, who wrote cadenzas for the 1st and 3rd movements of the Concerto in D minor in 1856. Mozart’s piano concertos have won over audiences because of their inexhaustible lyricism, their technical perfection of form, and the endless wealth of musical ideas that Mozart poured into them. To Mozart, lyrical melody was fundamental, and this is one reason why he was a very successful opera composer; he became the first composer whose operas have constantly held a place in the theatrical repertoire from the time when they were written down to the present. Ferruccio Busoni, who also composed a cadenza for Mozart’s Concerto in D minor, put it poetically: “There is no doubt that Mozart takes singing as the point of departure from which there gushes forth an uninterrupted flow of melody that shines through in his music, like the ravishing curves of the female body through the folds of an airy dress.”
Ludwig van Beethoven gave musical Classicism its crowning achievement in the pathos of his music, the selection of heroic themes and the use of unconventional means of expression, heralding in many ways the upcoming period of Romanticism. His symphonic debut – Symphony No. 1 in C major – still belongs to the Classical style and shows strong traces of the influence exerted upon Beethoven by his great predecessors, Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Unlike these two composers, however, Beethoven began to deal with symphonies later in his career, considering them to be an extremely important form to be approached with the utmost responsibility. This is testified by the total number of symphonic works composed by the individual representatives of Viennese Classicism – while Beethoven produced “only” nine symphonies, Mozart wrote 54 of them and Haydn nearly doubled this number. Beethoven started to work on his first symphony at the age of 29 (although he had noted some of the themes for it five years earlier), i.e., at the time when his hearing began to deteriorate.
The long, slow introduction of the first movement of this symphony eventually leads to a typically Classical main theme of a marching character. It is immediately followed by the more lyrical second theme played by oboes and flutes, interwoven with the strings. The movement develops further based on these two themes. In short, the entire first movement is composed in an exemplary and clearly recognizable sonata form with introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation and coda. The second dance-like movement Andante cantabile con moto has a sonata character as well. Here, Beethoven is returning to the mannerisms of the Mannheim School, i.e., to the ultimate musical source of the Classical period. Traditionally, composers placed minuet in the third movement of their symphonies. Beethoven proceeded in the same way in his First Symphony, but later, when composing his Second and Third, he replaced the minuet with scherzo. The third movement of his Symphony No. 1 in C major is actually an original symphonic scherzo as well (there is a lot more of classic minuet in the preceding movement). The unsettling excitement and the rather non-dancing character of the third movement contrast with its marking, which can be interpreted as Beethoven’s ironical comment on the established convention. In the final movement, after a timid introduction, a jubilant topic bursts out, to which the composer returns several times in the form of a rondo, while working with this theme in a way similar to the sonata form. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 is a child of the 18th century. However, with some of its features, it already anticipates Beethoven’s original musical language expressing grave content, which he fully developed especially in his other symphonies, composed in the following century.