Bernard Haitink to Conduct Two Programs With NY Phil to Celebrate 60th Conducting Season & 85th Birthday, 5/8-17
Bernard Haitink will return to the New York Philharmonic to conduct two weeks of performances highlighting works by Austrian composers - Berg, Webern, and Mahler - and Beethoven, who spent much of his career in Austria. In the first program, Mr. Haitink will conduct Webern's Im Sommerwind, Berg's Violin Concerto with Leonidas Kavakos, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica, on Thursday, May 8, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, May 9 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, May 10 at 8:00 p.m. Bernard Haitink's appearances are part of an international, season-wide celebration of the 60th anniversary of his conducting debut with the Netherlands Radio Union Orchestra (now the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra) and his 85th birthday.
The following week, Mr. Haitink will lead the Orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 3, with mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink in her Philharmonic debut, women of the New York Choral Artists directed by Joseph Flummerfelt, and Brookyln Youth Chorus directed by Dianne Berkun-Menaker, on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, May 16 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, May 17 at 8:00 p.m.
Webern and Berg were members of the Second Viennese School, though both were influenced by Mahler. Webern composed Im Sommerwind and Berg composed his Violin Concerto on the shores of the Austrian lake Wörthersee, where Mahler also established a composing studio, though he composed his Third Symphony at a different lakeside composing studio in Austria; Beethoven composed the Eroica Symphony at Oberdöbling, a retreat outside of Vienna.
Since his debut conducting the Netherlands Radio Union Orchestra 60 years ago, Bernard Haitink has served as chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for 27 years; music director of the Glyndebourne Opera and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; and principal conductor of the London Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestras.
Mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink, making her Philharmonic debut in the performances of Mahler's Third Symphony, said: "Everything in Mahler is about pain, suffering, and death; and then of course, joy and irony. Also, a lot of humor. It's like a rainbow of different emotions. I had known Bernard Haitink's name from a very young age after hearing his concerts with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw on the radio in Buenos Aires," she recalls. "For me, he was a legend, someone untouchable. It's a huge honor to be able to sing with him again."
Composer Victoria Bond will introduce the concerts May 8-9 and New York Philharmonic Audio Producer Mark Travis will introduce the concert May 10. New York Philharmonic Program Annotator James M. Keller, The Leni and Peter May Chair, will introduce the program May 15-17. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts are available for multiple talks, students, and groups. They take place one hour before each performance in the Helen Hull
Room, unless otherwise noted. Attendance is limited to 90 people. For information, visit nyphil.org/preconcert or call (212) 875-5656.
The May 8-10 program will be broadcast the week of June 1, 2014, and the May 15-17 program will be broadcast the week of June 8, 2014, on The New York Philharmonic This Week, a radio concert series syndicated weekly to more than 300 stations nationally, and to 122 outlets internationally, by the WFMT Radio Network.
The 52-week series is hosted by actor Alec Baldwin. The broadcast will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, nyphil.org. The program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. Information is subject to change. Check local listings for broadcast and program information.
Bernard Haitink was chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for 27 years; he also served as music director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and principal conductor of the London Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. He is conductor laureate of Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, conductor emeritus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and patron of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of the Netherlands. He has made frequent guest appearances with most of the world's leading orchestras, and celebrated another milestone in March 2014 when he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in concerts marking the 50th anniversary of his debut with that orchestra. The 2013-14 season marks the 60th year of his conducting career, which he began with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in his native Holland. He is also celebrating his 85th birthday year with a series of concerts in New York with the London and Boston Symphony Orchestras and New York Philharmonic, as well as concerts at the Barbican with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Mr. Haitink is committed to the development of young musical talent, and gives an annual conducting master class at the Lucerne Easter Festival. In addition, he also leads conducting classes at The Juilliard School, Zurich's Hochschule der Kunst, and London's Royal College of Music. He has an extensive discography for Phillips, Decca, and EMI, as well as the London, Chicago, and Bavarian Radio symphony orchestras' own labels. Bernard Haitink has received many awards and honors in recognition of his services to music, including several honorary doctorates, an honorary Knighthood and Companion of Honour in the United Kingdom, and the
House Order of Orange-Nassau in the Netherlands. He made his New York Philharmonic debut in 1975 leading J.S. Bach's Symphony in D major and Bruckner's Symphony No. 7; in his most recent appearance in 2011, he again conducted Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, and led Haydn's Symphony No. 96.
Leonidas Kavakos gained international recognition in his teens when he won the Sibelius Competition in 1985 and, three years later, the Paganini and Naumburg Competitions. He has developed close relationships with the world's major orchestras and conductors, such as the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle, London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and Valery Gergiev, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly. In 2012-13 he was artist-in-residence with the LSO and Berlin Philharmonic, and performed with Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw and Mariss Jansons on its Jubilee tour. In the 2013-14 season Mr. Kavakos makes his Vienna
Philharmonic debut, led by Mr. Chailly. In the U.S., he performs regularly with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras; Chicago and Boston Symphony Orchestras; and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Kavakos has appeared as conductor/soloist with orchestras including the Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Finnish Radio, Berlin's German, and Gothenburg symphony orchestras; Royal Stockholm, Vienna, and La Scala philharmonic orchestras; and Accademia nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Budapest Festival Orchestra. He makes conducting debuts this season with the LSO and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. As a chamber musician and recitalist, he often appears at the top European festivals, and for 15 years he curated a chamber music cycle at the Athens Megaron Concert Hall in his native Greece. Since 2012 Leonidas Kavakos has been an exclusive Decca recording artist. His first release on the label, Beethoven's complete violin sonatas with Enrico Pace, was nominated for a 2014 Grammy award and garnered him the 2013 ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of the Year award. He has presented the cycle of Beethoven's violin sonatas in London and Vienna with Emanuel Ax; and in Amsterdam, Milan, Carnegie Hall, at the Salzburg Festival, and in the Far East with Mr. Pace. His second disc, released in October 2013, is Brahms's Violin Concerto with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Mr. Chailly. Later this year Mr. Kavakos will record Brahms's violin sonatas with pianist Yuja Wang, with whom he will subsequently perform them in a series of recitals. In November 2013 the New England Conservatory awarded him an honorary doctor of music degree. He plays the "Abergavenny" Stradivarius violin of 1724. Mr. Kavakos made his Philharmonic debut in 2002 performing Bruch's Scottish Fantasy conducted by Bramwell Tovey on Central Park's Great Lawn; his most recent performance with the Orchestra was of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 in June 2013, led by Lionel Bringuier.
Mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink, born in Buenos Aires to Slovenian parents, received her musical education at the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón. She frequently performs alongside leading orchestras and conductors in Europe and America. With a repertoire that ranges from ancient to contemporary music, she regularly appears with the London, Prague, Vienna, and Berlin philharmonic orchestras; the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Dresden Staatskapelle; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras; and
with the foremost Baroque orchestras under Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Riccardo Chailly, Colin Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, René Jacobs, Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Roger Norrington, Trevor Pinnock, Georges Prêtre, Simon Rattle, and Franz Welser-Möst. Ms. Fink is welcomed regularly in her native Argentina and at Europe's main opera houses, and she often appears in recitals at Vienna's Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, and London's Wigmore Hall. Some of her almost 50 recordings have been awarded coveted prizes (including the Diapason d'Or and Grammy). In 2014 she is focusing on Bach with the St. Matthew Passion (with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at Vienna's Musikverein), St. John Passion (Giovanni Antonini at Vienna Konzerthaus and Aix-en-Provence), and the Christmas Oratorio (with René Jacobs). In Vienna she sings Haydn's Nelson Mass and Max
Reger's Requiem (Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic). She also sings Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer (with Riccardo Muti and the Orchestre National de France), Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (Simon Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic), Dvo?ák's Requiem (Philippe Herreweghe in Antwerp and Gent), Debussy's La Demoiselle élue (Emmanuel Villaume in Ljubljana and Maribor), Beethoven's Missa solemnis (Bernard Haitink in Zurich), Mahler's Rückert Lieder (Lahav Shani in Berlin), and Dvo?ák's Biblical Songs (with B?lohlávek at
Grafenegg and Edinburgh Festivals), among others. In 2006 Bernarda Fink was awarded the Austrian Honorary Medal for Art and Science, and in 2013, together with her brother Marcos Fink, the most prestigious cultural award of Slovenia sponsored by the Prešeren Foundation. These concerts mark her New York Philharmonic debut.
New York Choral Artists, a professional chorus founded and directed by Joseph Flummerfelt, has been heard with the New York Philharmonic in recent seasons performing repertoire ranging from Michael Tippett's A Child of Our Time to Mozart's Requiem. The chorus opened the Philharmonic's 2002-03 subscription season performing the World Premiere of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, commissioned by the Philharmonic with Lincoln Center's Great Performers. Other highlights of the group's history include the 1995 Philharmonic concert
celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, and a televised performance of the 1986 Statue of Liberty Concert in Central Park. The chorus performed Britten's War Requiem and Mahler's Symphony No. 8 during Lorin Maazel's final weeks as Music Director, and over the past few years collaborated with Music Director Alan Gilbert on Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, Mahler's Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, and Bach's B-minor Mass. For more than 40 seasons Joseph Flummerfelt has been preparing choral performances for the New York Philharmonic. Named Conductor of the Year in 2004 by Musical America, he is founder and musical director of
the New York Choral Artists and an artistic director of Spoleto Festival U.S.A. He was conductor of the Westminster Choir for 33 years. He has collaborated with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Barenboim, Bernstein, Boulez, Chailly, Sir Colin Davis, Gilbert, Giulini, Maazel, Masur, Mehta, Muti, Ozawa, Sawallisch, Shaw, and Steinberg. His choirs have been featured on 45 recordings, including Grammy Award-winning versions of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with Leonard Bernstein, Barber's Antony and Cleopatra, and John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls. He has also received two Grammy nominations, and his Delos recording of Brahms's choral works, Singing for Pleasure, with the Westminster Choir, was chosen by The New York Times as a favorite among Brahms recordings. Mr. Flummerfelt's honors include Le Prix du Président de la République from L'Académie du Disque Français and four honorary doctoral degrees. He is sought out as a guest conductor and master teacher of choral conducting. New York Choral Artists made its Philharmonic debut in December 1979 performing Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms and Mozart's Mass in C minor, Great, led by James Levine. The chorus's most recent appearance was in the November 2013 performances of Britten's Spring Symphony, led by Alan Gilbert.
Now in its 21st season, the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus (BYC), under the direction of founder and artistic director Dianne Berkun-Menaker, has performed with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, and Mariinsky Orchestra, and conductors Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, Marin Alsop, James Levine, Charles Dutoit, Robert Spano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Leon Botstein. The BYC has performed with artists including Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Lou Reed, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Grizzly Bear, John Legend, Natasha Bedingfield, Alicia Keys, and Judy Collins. Central to BYC's work is New Voices, an active commissioning program with the goal of creating innovative repertoire that challenges both singers and audiences. Among the composers BYC has commissioned are Pulitzer Prize-winners David Lang and Paul Moravec, Daniel Brewbaker, Bryce Dessner, Phil Kline, Fred Hersch, Andrew Lippa, James MacMillan, Joel Martin, Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, Kirk Nurock, Richard Reed Parry, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Julia Wolfe, and Shara Worden. BYC has performed at BAM's Next Wave Festival, BAM's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Festival, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Cincinnati's MusicNOW Festival, Park Avenue Armory's Tune-In Festival, the Prototype Festival, and the Bang on a Can Marathon at the River to River Festival. The young singers, who are drawn from all five boroughs of New York City, receive training from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy (BYCA), performance-based vocal music education program. Dianne Berkun-Menaker was the artistic director for the 2012-13 Carnegie Hall Choral Institute, and is creator of BYCA's groundbreaking Cross-Choral Training program. BYC's first appearance with the Philharmonic was in 2002 for the premiere of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, conducted by Lorin Maazel; the recording won a Grammy Award in 2005. It will have most recently appeared with the Philharmonic on May 5, 2014, performing The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse's Requiem, led by Alan Gilbert at Carnegie Hall as part of the Spring For Music festival.
Anton Webern (1883-1945) composed Im Sommerwind (In the Summer Wind), Idyll for Large Orchestra in 1904, before he entered the orbit of Arnold Schoenberg's Second Viennese School. Inspired by a poem of the same name by Bruno Willie (1860-1928), Im Sommerwind evokes the joy and peace of a summer day in the country. It is one of the works Webern composed before Russian troops overran Vienna. He fled to Mittersill in the Austrian mountains, where he was mistakenly shot by an occupying American sentry. Russian soldiers destroyed
whatever they found in Webern's abandoned home, but Hermine von Webern, the widow of Webern's son, salvaged what she could and in 1961, while Hans Moldenhauer was doing research for his Webern biography, she led him to countless unknown manuscripts - Im Sommerwind among them. It was premiered the following year by Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra at the International Webern Festival in Seattle. Zubin Mehta led the New York Philharmonic's first performance of this work in 1984; its most recent was led by Alan Gilbert in December 2009.
Alban Berg (1885-1935) inscribed his 1935 Violin Concerto - his only concerto and last composition - "To the memory of an angel," Manon Gropius (1916-35), the daughter of architect Walter Gropius and Gustav Mahler's widow Alma. Her beauty was such that she was to portray an angel in Max Reinhardt's production of Everyman in Salzburg, but she was struck with polio at age 18 and died a year later, on Easter in 1935. Berg had been extremely close to her throughout her life, and was devastated by her death. Earlier that year he had begun a
commission for a violin concerto for the American violinist Louis Krasner, but work proceeded slowly. Manon's illness seemed to drive him to complete it. The concerto is divided into two parts, and each part is divided into two more. Part one is a portrait of Manon; part two incorporates a Bach chorale melody with a text that reads: "It is enough. / Lord, if it pleases you / Unshackle me. / My Jesus comes;/Good night, o world; / I go to heaven's house; / I go there in peace. / My misery I leave behind. / It is enough." On Christmas Eve, only a few months after completing the work, Berg succumbed to blood poisoning, the result of a wasp sting. Joseph Szigeti was the soloist when Dimitri Mitropoulos conducted the New York Philharmonic's first performance of the work in 1949; Frank Peter Zimmermann was the soloist when Alan Gilbert led the most Philharmonic's most recent performances, in October 2011.
That Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) furiously retracted his dedication of the Symphony No. 3, Eroica (1804), to Napoleon is well known. The composer's friend Ferdinand Ries recounts: "I was the first to bring him the intelligence that Bonaparte had proclaimed himself emperor, whereupon [Beethoven] flew into a rage and cried out: 'Is he then, too, nothing more than an ordinary human being? Now he, too, will trample on all the rights of man and indulge only in his ambition. He will exalt himself above all others, become a tyrant!' Beethoven went to
the table, took hold of the symphony's title page by the top, tore it in two, and threw it on the floor. The page was rewritten and only then did the symphony receive the title Sinfonia eroica, "Composed to Celebrate the Memory of a Great Man." The symphony's extraordinary scope, bold harmonies, and dramatic funeral march all proclaim that a new era in music had begun. Ureli Corelli Hill conducted the New York Philharmonic's first performance of the Eroica during the Philharmonic's second-ever concert, at the Apollo Rooms in 1843; the Orchestra's most recent performance was led by David Zinman in 2012 as part of The Modern Beethoven: A Philharmonic Festival in March 2012.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) composed his Symphony No. 3 (1895-96) while at Steinbach, his rustic cabin retreat on the banks of an Austrian lake, when he was only 36 years old. Later revisions included reducing the number of movements from seven to six and withdrawing their descriptive titles in favor of simple tempo markings. Still, Mahler's original titles illuminate his plans and offer a glimpse of his inner world: "Summer marches in," "What the flowers of the field tell me," "What the animals of the forest tell me," "What man tells me," "What the angels tell me," "What love tells me." (A seventh part, "What the child tells me," would become the last movement of his Symphony No. 4.) The symphony calls for huge orchestral forces, mezzo-soprano, and women's and children's choruses, and its language encompasses folk melodies, marches, dark night music, and sublime lyricism. The Philharmonic's first performance of Mahler's Third Symphony was its New York Premiere, conducted by Willem Mengelberg in February 1922 at the old Metropolitan Opera House on 39th Street; Alan Gilbert led its most recent Philharmonic performance in September 2009.
Tickets for the concerts start at $30. Tickets for Open Rehearsals are $20. All other tickets may be purchased online at nyphil.org or by calling (212) 875-5656, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Tickets may also be purchased at the Avery Fisher Hall Box Office. The Box Office opens at 10:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and at noon on Sunday. On performance evenings, the Box Office closes one-half hour after performance time; other evenings it closes at 6:00 p.m. To determine ticket availability, call the Philharmonic's Customer Relations Department at (212) 875-5656. [Ticket prices subject to change.]
Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger