Houston Symphony to Present 'Best of Brahms' to Kick Off Season

Houston Symphony to Present 'Best of Brahms' to Kick Off Season

Beginning on September 14, the Houston Symphony will dedicate the first 3 weeks of the 2012-2013 Classical Season to the Best of Brahms. The 3 weekends of the Best of Brahms, which include 5 different concert programs, will take an in-depth look at many of Brahms’ works including his four Symphonies, two Piano Concertos, the Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, the German Requiem and many other beloved and blissful works. The compositions of Johannes Brahms are especially meaningful to Houston Symphony Music Director Hans Graf.

“At the age of 16, the very first score I bought with my pocket money was a pocket score of Brahms Symphony No. 4,” said Graf. “As I studied this masterpiece, my juvenile love of Brahms began to grow and has endured throughout my life. Even knowing his music for decades, Brahms still holds the power to surprise us, with something new to discover around every turn of phrase.”

A German composer who lived during the mid-nineteenth century, Johannes Brahms is respected as one of the greatest masters of musical form and a pioneer of the Romantic musical time period. Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Brahms had an uncanny ability to achieve structural integrity in his music, while at the same time allowing the notes to passionately dance off the page with an expressive romanticism. This delicate balance allows Brahms’ music to connect with audiences on a deeper level and even inspired 20th century composer Arnold Schoenberg to credit Brahms with “great innovation in musical language.”

Contributing to the Houston Symphony’s Best of Brahms concerts will be pianists Jonathan Biss and longtime Graf friend, Garrick Ohlsson. Houston Symphony Concertmaster Frank Huang and Principal Cellist Brinton Averil Smith will also be featured in the captivating Concerto for Violin and Cello. Maestro Hans Graf will conduct the first two Best of Brahms weekends, while Finnish guest conductor John Storgårds, another noted interpreter of Brahms, will conduct the final weekend.

Houston Symphony Classical Series
Jones Hall
615 Louisiana St.
Houston, TX 77002

Friday, September 14, 2012, 8:00pm
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 8:00pm
Sunday, September 16, 2012, 2:30pm
Best of Brahms – Weekend 1
Hans Graf, conductor
Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Frank Huang, violin
Brinton Averil Smith, cello

Program A – September 14, 16, 2012
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1
Brahms: Symphony No. 1

Program B – September 15, 2012
Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Haydn
Brahms: Concerto for Violin and Cello
Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Thursday, September 20, 2012, 8:00pm
Saturday, September 22, 2012, 8:00pm
Sunday, September 23, 2012, 2:30pm
Best of Brahms – Weekend 2
Hans Graf, conductor
Joshua Hopkins, baritone
Houston Symphony Chorus
Charles Hausmann, director
Frank Huang, violin
Brinton Averil Smith, cello

Program C – September 20, 22, 2012
Brahms: Tragic Overture
Brahms: Nänie
Brahms: Requiem

Program B – September 23, 2012
Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Haydn
Brahms: Concerto for Violin and Cello
Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Friday, September 28, 2012, 8:00pm
Saturday, September 29, 2012, 8:00pm
Sunday, September 30, 2012, 2:30pm
Best of Brahms – Weekend 3
John Storgards, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano

Program D – September 28, 30, 2012
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2
Brahms: Symphony No. 3

Program E – September 29, 2012
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2
Brahms: Symphony No. 2

Tickets from: $25

About Hans Graf, conductor
Known for his wide range of repertoire and creative programming, distinguished Austrian conductor Hans Graf is the Houston Symphony’s 15th Music Director and will stand as its longest serving music director when his tenure closes in May 2013. As one of today's most highly respected musicians, he is a frequent guest with all of the major North American orchestras, and regularly conducts in the foremost concert halls of Europe, Japan and Australia.

Graf has appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, as well as with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. He was awarded the Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria in 2007 and France’s Chevalier de l’ordre de la Legion d’Honneur in 2002. Maestro Graf and his wife, Margarita, have homes in Salzburg and Houston.

About Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Though long regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of Frédéric Chopin, Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire ranging over the entire piano literature, and is noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. His concerto repertoire alone ranges from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century. To date, he has at his command more than 80 concertos.

A native of White Plains, New York, Ohlsson began his piano studies at age 8 at the Westchester Conservatory of Music, followed by entering The Juilliard School in New York City at age 13. He has been influenced in completely different ways by a succession of distinguished teachers, most notably Claudio Arrau, Olga Barabini, Tom Lishman, Sascha Gorodnitzki, Rosina Lhévinne and Irma Wolpe. Although he won First Prizes at the 1966 Busoni Competition in Italy and the 1968 Montréal Piano Competition, it was his 1970 triumph with a Gold Medal at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw that brought him worldwide recognition. He was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1994 and received the 1998 University Musical Society Distinguished Artist Award in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

About Frank Huang, violin
First Prize Winner of the 2003 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation's Violin
Competition and the 2000 Hannover International Violin Competition, Frank
Huang has an established career as a violin virtuoso. At the age of 11, he first performed with the Houston Symphony in a nationally broadcast concert. He has since performed with orchestras throughout the world, including the Cleveland and Genoa orchestras, LA Philharmonic, the Saint-Paul and Amadeus chamber orchestras, Indianapolis Symphony and the NDR-Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of Hannover. He has served as concertmaster of the Houston Symphony since 2010.

Huang is on the faculty at Rice University and the University of Houston, and he also teaches during the summers at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Texas Music Festival and the Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea. Huang performs in a trio with pianist Gilles Vonsattel and cellist Nicolas Altstaedt, and also serves as the concertmaster and leader of the Sejong Soloists, a conductorless chamber orchestra in New York.