Hailed for the natural ease of his conducting and the compelling insight of his musicianship, James Gaffigan continues to attract international attention and is one of the most outstanding young American conductors working today. In January 2010, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and in September 2013 he will take up the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Gürzenich Orchestra, Cologne. This newly created position includes both subscription concerts and regular opera productions with Opera Cologne.
In addition to these titled positions, James Gaffigan is in high demand working with leading orchestras and opera houses throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. In recent seasons, James Gaffigan’s guest engagements have included the Munich, London and Rotterdam Philharmonics, Dresden Staatskapelle, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra (Berlin), Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, RSO Berlin, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Zurich Tonhalle, Bournemouth Symphony, Camerata Salzburg, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Leipzig and Stuttgart Radio Orchestras, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Qatar Philharmonic. In the States, he has worked with the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, San Francisco and Los Angeles Philharmonics, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Baltimore and National Symphony Orchestras and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
This season, Mr Gaffigan will make his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Symphoniker, Orchestre de Paris, Oslo Philharmonic and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras. He will also return to the MDR Leipzig, Sydney Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestras. In America, he returns to the New World Symphony and to Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis, Houston and Cincinnati.
As an opera conductor, James Gaffigan made his Vienna State Opera debut in 2011/12 conducting La Bohème and was immediately invited back to conduct Don Giovanni last season. Mr Gaffigan continues his relationship with the Glyndebourne Festival – in 2012, he conducted a production of La Cenerentola and returned for performances of Falstaff this summer 2013. He made his professional opera debut at the Zurich Opera in 2005 conducting La Bohème. In the States, he has conducted Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro at the Aspen Music Festival and The Marriage of Figaro at the Houston Opera.
Born in New York City in 1979, Mr. Gaffigan attended the New England Conservatory of Music and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, where he earned his Masters of Music in conducting. He was also chosen to study at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and School, and was a conducting fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center.
In 2009, Mr Gaffigan completed a three-year tenure as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony where he assisted Michael Tilson Thomas, led subscription concerts and was Artistic Director of the orchestra’s Summer festival. Prior to that appointment, he was the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra where he worked under Music Director Franz Welser-Möst from 2003 through 2006. James Gaffiganʼs international career was launched when he was named a first prize winner at the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition. He lives in Lucerne with his wife, the writer Lee Taylor Gaffigan, and their daughter Sofia.
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Czech Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Laureate, BBC Symphony (London)
Renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012, following on from his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977–89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994–2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006. From 2013 to 2017, he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
In opera, he has collaborated with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, and the National Theatre in Prague. He has also conducted and recorded several opera-in-concert presentations with the BBC Symphony, to great acclaim. Confirming his preeminence as the conductor of Janacek, this past season he conducted the Czech Phil in a concert presentation of Jenůfa at the London Royal Festival Hall, as well as in full production the San Francisco Opera. This was followed by a performance of Janacek The Makropulos Case with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic is enjoying unprecedented success both at home in Prague, and on extensive tours. Together they have toured in the past three seasons on three continents, including Europe, Asia and North America. Their recent residency in Vienna at the Musikverein was a great success, and has lead to similar events being planned in other world capitals. The Czech Philharmonic announced in January 2017 that their partnership with Maestro Bělohlávek is now officially extended to 2022!
In addition to his ongoing Prague seasons and touring engagements with the Czech, he continues to perform as a guest conductor with the world’s major orchestras, including recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (including at the London Proms), New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Deutsches Symphony Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, in addition to major projects with Czech Phil, he looks forward to engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra Munich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and more.
With the Czech Philharmonic, he will conduct a major Asian tour in Autumn 2017 with concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, in addition to appearances on tour in Europe, the highlight of which will be a performance of Janáček Glagolitic Mass at the Salzburg Festival in August 2018.
Jiří Bělohlávek has recorded extensively, with recent projects with the Czech Philharmonic including the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvořák. The series with Decca continues in the coming season, when a major disc of Suk will be recorded.
In 2012 he was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British music.
Johannes Brahms had to work hard to produce orchestral compositions because of his perfectionism. His First Symphony was performed in 1876. It was soon followed by the Second Symphony; together with Violin Concero these were three compositions by which Brahms established himself as a major figure of the Viennese musical life. In Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73 Brahms extricated himself from his dependence on Beethoven, which is still quite apparent in Brahmsʼs First Symphony.
The Second Symphony was composed in the summer of 1877. It has the identical key as the Violin Concerto and Brahms created it in similar state of mind. The widely vaulted melody of the main theme of the first movement is one of the most impressive tunes by Brahms. The second movement maintains a similar mood. Scherzo of the third movement has the character of classic minuet. The final movement unexpectedly changes the peaceful mood of the composition. The primere of Brahmsʼs Second Symphony took place on 30 December 1877 in Vienna and was performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans Richter.
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