Jaap van Zweden has risen rapidly in the past decade to become one of today’s most sought-after conductors. On January 27, 2016, the New York Philharmonic announced that Jaap van Zweden will be their new Music Director starting with the 2018-19 season, and will act as Music Director Designate during 2017-18.
He has been Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 2008, holding the Louise W. & Edmund J. Kahn Music Directorship, and will continue in that role through the 2017-18 season, after which he becomes Conductor Laureate. He has also been Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra since 2012.
The Amsterdam-born van Zweden was appointed at nineteen as the youngest concertmaster ever of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and began his conducting career twenty years later in 1995. He remains Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra. In November 2011, van Zweden was named Musical America's 2012 Conductor of the Year in recognition of his critically acclaimed work as Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and as guest conductor with the most prestigious US orchestras.
Highlights of the 2015/16 season include return visits to the New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Rotterdam and London Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as a debut performance with the Czech Philharmonic. Van Zweden returned to the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in the fall of 2015 to lead a concert performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, and makes his debut at the Vienna State Opera in performances of Wagner’s Lohengrin in May.
Jaap van Zweden has appeared as guest conductor with many leading orchestras around the globe which, in addition to those above, include the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Orchestre National de France, Oslo Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Recent highlights have included highly successful appearances at the Verbier Festival, tours of major venues in Europe and China with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and debuts with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Boston and London Symphonies, and his BBC Proms debut conducting the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony. With the Dallas Symphony he launched the inaugural SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival, and with the Hong Kong Philharmonic he has embarked on a four-year project to conduct the first ever performances in Hong Kong of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, which is being recorded for release on Naxos Records.
Jaap van Zweden has made numerous acclaimed recordings, which include Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrushka, Britten’s War Requiem, and the complete Beethoven and Brahms symphonies. He has recently completed a cycle of Bruckner symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. He has recorded Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 with the London Philharmonic (LPO Live), and Mozart Piano Concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra and David Fray (Virgin). His highly praised performances of Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger and Parsifal are also available on CD/DVD, the latter of which earned Maestro van Zweden the prestigious Edison award for Best Opera Recording in 2012. For the Dallas Symphony’s own record label, he has released the symphonies of Tchaikovsky (Nos. 4 and 5), Beethoven (Nos. 5 and 7), Mahler (Nos. 3 and 6) and Dvořák (No. 9), and the world premiere recording of Steven Stucky’s concert drama August 4, 1964. Most recently released on Naxos is his recording with the Hong Kong Philharmonic of Wagner’s Das Rheingold.
In 1997, Jaap van Zweden and his wife Aaltje established the Papageno Foundation, the objective being to support families of children with autism. Over the years, that support has taken shape through a number of programs in which professional music therapists and musicians, receiving additional training from Papageno, use music as a major tool in their work with autistic children. Papageno House, a new home for autistic young adults and children, was opened in Laren, The Netherlands, in August, 2015, with Her Majesty Queen Maxima in attendance.
Frank Peter Zimmermann is widely regarded as one of the foremost violinists of his generation. Praised for his selfless musicality, his brilliance and keen intelligence he has been performing with all major orchestras in the world for well over three decades, collaborating on these occasions with the world’s most renowned conductors. His many concert engagements take him to all important concert venues and international music festivals in Europe, the United States, Japan, South America and Australia.
Frank Peter Zimmermann gives numerous concerts, which are received with great critical acclaim from press and public alike. His regular recital partners are pianists Enrico Pace, Emanuel Ax, Christian Zacharias and Piotr Anderzewski.
Frank Peter Zimmermann has given world premieres of three violin concertos: Matthias Pintscher’s En Sourdine with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Peter Eötvös (2003), Brett Dean’s The Lost Art of Letter Writing with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by the composer himself (2007) and Augusta Read Thomas’s Juggler in Paradise with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Andrey Boreyko (2009).
He received a number of prizes and honors including the Premio del Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena (1990), the Rheinischer Kulturpreis (1994), the Musikpreis of the city of Duisburg (2002), the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (2008) and the Paul-Hindemith-Preis der Stadt Hanau (2010).
His impressive discography of award-winning recordings for EMI Classics, Sony Classical, BIS, Ondine, Teldec Classics and ECM Records ranges from Bach to Ligeti and also comprises many works from the recital repertoire. In 2014 his second recording of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto was released by Decca as part of Dvořák complete symphonies and concertos with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek. In February 2015 Hänssler Classic released his new recording of Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 3 and 4 with the Kammerorchester des Symphonieorchesters des Bayerischen Rundfunks.
Born in 1965 in Duisburg, Germany, he started playing the violin when he was 5 years old, giving his first concert with orchestra at the age of 10. He studied with Valery Gradov, Saschko Gawriloff and Herman Krebbers. He plays on the “Général Dupont, Grumiaux” Stradivari (1727) lent to him by Mr Yu.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s symphonic legacy represented a challenge for almost every composer of the following generations. Composers were expected to come with their own approach which would be as good as Beethoven’s music, while not imitating it, and express their own individuality. Because of the great respect to Beethoven’s symphonic legacy, Johannes Brahmsdid not finish his Symphony No. 1 in C minor until he turned forty-four. He confided his fears to conductor Hermann Levi in the early 1870: “I’ll never get a symphony written. You have no idea of what it is like always to hear such a giant’s footsteps marching behind you.”
The Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op. 98 is the last of his symphonies, created soon after Symphony No. 3. Brahms worked on the piece in Mürzzuschlag, Styria, where he spent his summer vacation in the years 1884–1885. Despite Brahms’s concerns, the Fourth had a very positive fate. It was premiered on October 25, 1885 in Meiningen, Germany, with Brahms himself conducting. He had a chance to present it with an elite European orchestra – the court orchestra of Meiningen (Meininger Hofkapelle) headed by the legendary Hans von Büllow. A week after the premiere Büllow started a tour with the orchestra of Holland and West Germany, where in addition to other compositions he performed it to great acclaim.
Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op. 98 is considered a masterpiece. The work with themes is dominated by the i.e., developing variations, as this compositional technique was later called by Arnold Schoenberg. It consists of the extension and transformation of the theme that often takes place covertly and often leads to a new final shape. The fourth movement has a surprising polyphonic structure. Brahms conceived it as thirty contrapuntal variations in 8 bars over an ostinato bass, where the main melody is an expansion of a chaconne tune from Bach’s cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich BWV 150. This is incredibly tightly constructed and thoughtful music. When in 1897, shortly before his death, Brahms attended a Viennese performance of this symphony, he was witness to its enthusiastic reception as a work which had already stood the test of time.
Hungarian composer, pianist, teacher and musicologist Béla Bartókwas a major figure of 20th century music. He managed to combine the profession of a composer with that of a musicologist. Bartók collected folk tunes and songs of Eastern European folklore, which in turn had a fundamental influence on his own music.
Bartók wrote two violin concertos in a span of thirty years. His First Violin Concerto was inspired by his love to violinist Stefi Geyer. Violin Concerto No. 2 came into being under different circumstances. Béla Bartók was asked by Hungarian violinist Zoltán Székely to compose a concerto for him. Bartók initially planned to write a single-movement concerto set of variations, but eventually agreed on a compromise of a three-movement concerto with the middle movement in the form of variations. He worked on it from August 1937 to December 1938. From a political perspective, it was a difficult stage of his life. Bartók made no secret about his anti-fascist sentiments, and consequently became the target of indiscriminate attacks.
Despite these disagreeable circumstances Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto bears no traces of despondency. The composition is a synthesis of his previous creative experience and aims at a maximum clarity of sound and coherence of form. Of the original artistic intention, the variation principle has been maintained and goes through the whole work; the first (largest) movement in sonata form is followed by the second movement, which in the context of the whole work is a kind of lyrical “intermezzo” – a theme with six variations. The final movement is a variation on material from the introductory movement. The premiere of the concert was performed by Zoltán Székely with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam under the direction of Willem Mengelberg on 23 March 1939.
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