Alan Gilbert Conducts Mozart's Three Final Symphonies This Weekend

By: Nov. 29, 2013
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Music Director Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic in a program of Mozart's three final symphonies - Nos. 39, 40, and 41, Jupiter - tonight, November 29, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 30 at 8:00 p.m. Classical 105.9 FM WQXR in New York will broadcast the November 30 concert live at 8:00 p.m. as part of a month-long festival on the music and life of Mozart.

"Playing Mozart's last three symphonies together in a program is a very intense and powerful way of experiencing this music," Alan Gilbert said. "His music is uniquely challenging to the performer - it has to be stylish and shaped, but ultimately human - but there's nothing more fun or gratifying. The story of Mozart is everybody's story, and it's an important one."

Many questions remain about these three symphonies. Scholars believe they were intended to be a trilogy and published together, but as they weren't published during the composer's lifetime, it is difficult to know. While mystery surrounds their creation, some consider these three works the pinnacle of Mozart's genius.

Alan Gilbert will lead Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 39 and 41, Jupiter, on Tuesday, November 26, 2013. The program also includes Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, featuring tenor Paul Appleby and Principal Horn Philip Myers, as part of the Philharmonic's celebration of Britten's centennial.

A Saturday Matinee Concert November 30 at 2:00 p.m., conducted by Alan Gilbert, will feature Mozart's Symphony No. 41, Jupiter, and Poulenc's Sextet for Piano and Winds and Trio for Piano, Oboe, and Bassoon with pianist Jeffrey Kahane and Philharmonic principal players: Principal Flute Robert Langevin, Principal Oboe Liang Wang, Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson, Principal Bassoon Judith LeClair, and Principal Horn Philip Myers. Each of the concerts on this season's Saturday Matinee series includes chamber music by French composers.

Related Events:

- Pre-Concert Talks

Author and lecturer Fred Plotkin will introduce the program November 26. Musicologist and professor Elizabeth Seitz will introduce the concerts November 29-30. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts 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. Information: or (212) 875-5656.

- National and International Radio Broadcast

The program will be broadcast a later date* 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, hosted by actor Alec Baldwin, is generously underwritten by The Kaplen Brothers Fund, the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Philharmonic's corporate partner, MetLife Foundation. The broadcast will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, The program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.
*Check local listings for broadcast and program information.

- Live Broadcast on Classical 105.9 FM WQXR

Classical 105.9 FM WQXR will broadcast the program live on Saturday, November 30 at 8:00 p.m. as part of "Month of Mozart," a month-long festival on the music and life of Mozart.


Music Director Alan Gilbert began his New York Philharmonic tenure in September 2009, the first native New Yorker in the post. He and the Philharmonic have introduced the positions of The Marie-Josee Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in- Residence; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and, beginning in the spring of 2014, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL.

In addition to inaugurating the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, in the 2013-14 season Alan Gilbert conducts Mozart's three final symphonies; the U.S. Premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Frieze coupled with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; four world premieres; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer's centennial; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film is screened; and a staged production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. He continues The Nielsen Project - the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer's symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by The New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012 - and presides over the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour. Last season's highlights included Bach's B-minor Mass; Ives's Fourth Symphony; the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour; and the season-concluding A Dancer's Dream, a multidisciplinary reimagining of Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss and Petrushka, created by Giants Are Small and starring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns.

Mr. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies and holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at The Juilliard School. Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras around the world. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Doctor Atomic in 2008, the DVD of which received a Grammy Award. Rene?e Fleming's recent Decca recording Poe?mes, on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. His recordings have received top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine. In May 2010 Mr. Gilbert received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music and in December 2011, Columbia University's Ditson Conductor's Award for his "exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music."

American tenor Paul Appleby is a recent graduate of The Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the recipient of a 2012 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Performing and Visual Arts. He has appeared with The Metropolitan Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Wolf Trap Opera, as well as concert engagements with the New York Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras. His 2013-14 season operatic engagements include debuts with Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Washington National Opera, and returns to The Met and Oper Frankfurt. His concert performances include Maverick Concerts, Carnegie Hall's "Britten Discovery Day," a recital at Pace University, and a joint recital with baritone Joshua Hopkins presented by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. Mr. Appleby has also been recognized with the 2012 Top Prize by the Gerda Lissner Foundation, the 2012 Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center, the 2011 Richard Tucker Career Grant, and George London Foundation Award, and he was a National Winner of the 2009 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. A recipient of an artist diploma in opera studies at The Juilliard School, he received a master's degree from The Juilliard School and a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Music from the University of Notre Dame. Paul Appleby most recently appeared with the Philharmonic in his debut, performing Mozart's Mass in C minor, Great, conducted by Alan Gilbert, at Avery Fisher Hall in June 2012 and during the Orchestra's Bravo! Vail residency in July 2012.

Philip Myers, The Ruth F. and Alan J. Broder Chair, joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Horn in January 1980. He has appeared as a Philharmonic soloist on numerous occasions, including in Schumann's Konzertstu?ck for Four Horns, with Lorin Maazel in February 2007 and Kurt Masur in May 2001 as well as on tour; Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings led by Andre? Previn in October 2001; and Mozart's Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon in March 2010, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert. He is a member of the New York Philharmonic Principal Brass Quintet, which performs an annual Holiday Brass Concert at Avery Fisher Hall, and appears often internationally in conjunction with the Orchestra's tours. Mr. Myers began his orchestral career in 1971 with a three-year term as principal horn of the Atlantic Symphony in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was third horn with the Pittsburgh Symphony from 1974 until 1977. As principal horn of the Minnesota Orchestra for a season and a half, he made his solo debut with that ensemble in 1979, performing Richard Strauss's Horn Concerto No. 1 with Neville Marriner conducting. A native of Elkhart, Indiana, Philip Myers holds two degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He plays Engelbert Schmid French horns. He made his Philharmonic solo debut in January 1980 performing the premiere of William Schuman's Three Colloquies, led by Zubin Mehta; he most recently appeared with the Orchestra as soloist in October 2012 in Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 3, conducted by Rafael Fru?hbeck de Burgos.

Equally at home at the keyboard or on the podium, Jeffrey Kahane appears as soloist with ensembles including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic and Cleveland, Philadelphia, and San Francisco symphony orchestras. Currently in his 17th season as music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, he also served as music director of the Colorado Symphony and Santa Rosa Symphony, where he is now conductor laureate. He has been recognized for his innovative programming and commitment to education and community involvement with all three orchestras, and received ASCAP adventurous programming awards for his work in Los Angeles and Denver. During the 2013-14 season, he and his newly formed trio (with violinist Joseph Swensen and New York Philharmonic Principal Cello Carter Brey) will appear at festivals and venues across the country. A graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory, Jeffrey Kahane won first prize at the Rubinstein Competition (1983), was a Van Cliburn Competition finalist (1981), received an Avery Fisher Career Grant (1983), and won the first Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award (1987).

Robert Langevin joined the New York Philharmonic in the 2000-01 season as Principal Flute, The Lila Acheson Wallace Chair, and made his solo debut with the Orchestra that season. He previously served as the Jackman Pfouts Principal Flute Chair of the Pittsburgh Symphony and as associate principal of the L'Orchestre symphonique de Montre?al for 13 years, playing on more than 30 recordings. As a member of Musica Camerata Montreal and l'Ensemble de la Socie?te? de Musique Contemporaine du Que?bec, he assisted in the premieres of many works. He has performed as soloist with Quebec's most distinguished ensembles and has recorded many recitals and chamber music programs for the CBC. Mr. Langevin's honors include first prizes in flute and chamber music from the Montreal Conservatory of Music; the Prix d'Europe; and second prize at the Budapest International Competition. He served as an adjunct professor at Duquesne University and on the faculty of the University of Montreal; he is currently on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Orford International Summer Festival.

Liang Wang (The Alice Tully Chair) joined the Philharmonic as Principal Oboe in September 2006, and has since performed numerous solos with the Orchestra. Previously, he was principal oboe of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and was guest principal oboe at the Chicago and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras. Born in Qing Dao, China, he studied at the Beijing Central Conservatory and at California's Idyllwild Arts Academy; he received his bachelor's degree from Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music, and was a fellowship recipient at the Aspen Music Festival and School and at the Music Academy of the West. Mr. Wang has won awards at the Spotlight Competition of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Pasadena Instrumental, Fernard Gillet International Oboe, and Tilden Prize competitions, and he has twice received the Los Angeles Philharmonic Fellowship. He has performed chamber music at the Santa Fe and Angel Fire Festivals; has given master classes at the Cincinnati Conservatory; and was on the oboe faculty of the University of California-Berkeley.

Stephen Williamson joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Clarinet, The Edna and W. Van Alan Clark Chair, in July 2013. He previously served as principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO, 2011-13) and The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (2003-11), and was a frequent guest principal clarinetist with the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra. An avid soloist and chamber musician, Mr. Williamson has performed extensively in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and he has served on the faculties of Columbia University, Mannes College of Music, and Pacific Music Festival. He has recorded for the Sony Classics, Telarc, CRI, BMG, Naxos, and Decca labels and can be heard on numerous film soundtracks, including John Williams's Oscar- nominated score to Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. Mr. Williamson graduated from the Eastman School of Music and received his master's degree from The Juilliard School. As a Fulbright Scholar, he furthered his studies at Berlin's Hochschule der Ku?nste. Stephen Williamson's honors include grand prize of the 1994 Boosey & Hawkes/Buffet Crampon First Annual North American Clarinet Competition and awards from the Concert Artists Guild Competition and Coleman International Chamber Music Competition.

Judith LeClair joined the Philharmonic as Principal Bassoon (The Pels Family Chair) in 1981, at the age of 23, and has since made more than 50 solo appearances with the Orchestra. Previously she was principal bassoon for two seasons with the San Diego Symphony and San Diego Opera. As an active chamber musician, Ms. LeClair has participated in the Music from Angel Fire, Bridgehampton, Bay Chamber, and Aspen festivals; she also performs as a member of the Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet of New York. She has given solo recitals and master classes at the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, Michigan and Ohio Universities, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Every August she gives a solo recital and weeklong master class at the Hidden Valley Music Seminar in Carmel Valley, California. In April 1995 Ms. LeClair premiered The Five Sacred Trees, a concerto written for her by John Williams and commissioned by the New York Philharmonic as part of its 150th Anniversary celebration. She reprised the concerto with the San Francisco Symphony, London's Royal Academy Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Her recording of this last performance and her solo New York Legends CD for Cala Records were released in 1997. Ms LeClair is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and made her professional debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra at age 15. She is on the faculty of The Juilliard School.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 39 is the first work in his final symphonic trilogy, composed at a time when his fortunes had crumbled. But this symphony betrays none of his woes. Passages of grandeur, like the stately introductory adagio, alternate with intimate moments, softened by the mellow sounds of an instrument he particularly loved, the clarinet - Mozart calls for two, in fact, which play a delightful duet in the third movement. Still, this symphony has a serious character and paints a landscape suffused with darker harmonies. Much about the Symphony No. 39 and its sister-symphonies remains a mystery: why did Mozart compose them without commissions? Were they perhaps intended for a subscription series he was planning in 1788? What orchestra was to perform them? Were the symphonies ever performed in his lifetime? Whatever the answers, the 39th Symphony is one of the masterpieces of the repertoire that anticipates Beethoven's bold romantic statements, especially the Eroica, with which this symphony shares the E-flat key signature. The Philharmonic first performed this work in January 1847, led by Henry C. Timm at the Apollo Rooms; its most recent presentation was in June 2012, led by Pinchas Zukerman.

Mozart completed the haunting Symphony No. 40 only one month after his 39th. The 40th is one of only two symphonies that Mozart composed in a minor key, both in G minor: the 25th is referred to "The Little G minor" and the 40th as "The Great G minor." Although some scholars doubt that Mozart ever heard this work performed, two versions of it exist, suggesting that Mozart might have, in fact, heard and revised the score for a second edition. The K.550 is an outpouring of passion, an utterance of extreme urgency and full of agitation, with only slim respite in the exquisite, spiritual slow movement. It has been written that this work exhibits "Grecian lightness and grace" (Robert Schumann), or alternately, "plunge[s] to the abyss of the soul" (Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein). Henry C. Timm led the Philharmonic's first performance of this work in April 1846; Alan Gilbert led the Orchestra's most recent performance in January 2011.

Mozart finished his Symphony No. 41, Jupiter, a mere 16 days after his 40th Symphony. Nicknamed (probably by the impresario Johann Peter Salomon) for the king of the gods, Mozart's last symphony would set a crown upon his symphonic output. The composer had become acquainted with Johann Sebastian Bach's music around 1782, and was particularly fascinated by the fugues he found there. In the last movement of the Jupiter he pays homage to the old master, while at the same time showing off his own command of the fugue: six themes intersect, and then in the coda they are heard in a brilliant five-part counterpoint, and then they all come together in a dazzling finale. Denis G. Etienne led the Philharmonic's first performance of this work in January 1844; Daniel Boico conducted the most recent performance in March 2010.

Francis Poulenc was a member of the Parisian group gathered by composer Eric Satie called "Les Six" (with Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Germaine Tailleferre, and Darius Milhaud). In his essay "Modern French Music," musicologist David Drew says that Poulenc "is commonly held to be of less interest and importance than Milhaud - an estimate which I believe to be unjust, as his career suggests that he is more consistent and more original, and, again, that he is more seriously dedicated to his art, and quite musicianly in his service of it ... Poulenc is the most frank, if not the most reticent, of composers. When he has nothing to say, he says it. There is no sham." Poulenc's Sextet for Piano and Winds is scored for flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, horn, and piano. He originally completed this lighthearted, satiric work in 1932 and rewrote it in 1939.

Francis Poulenc dedicated his high-spirited Trio for Piano, Oboe, and Bassoon (1926) to the great Spanish composer Manuel De Falla (whom he had met at the home of his piano teacher Ricardo Vin?es, also a Spaniard) "to show him as best I could my loving admiration." This work was Poulenc's first real success in chamber music and was first performed on May 2, 1926, with the composer himself at the piano. He wrote: "I am rather fond of it, because it has a transparent sound and is well balanced. To those who believe me careless of form, I would not hesitate to reveal my secrets here: the first movement follows the plan of a Haydn allegro, and the final Rondo is in the shape of the Scherzo of Saint-Sae?ns's Second Piano Concerto."

Benjamin Britten composed his Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (1943) for legendary horn virtuoso Dennis Brain and tenor Peter Pears (the composer's life partner, for whom he wrote all of his most notable tenor roles). English poet and critic Edward Sackville-West, the Serenade's dedicatee and compiler of texts, provides an apt summary: "The subject is Night and its prestigia [tricks], the lengthening shadow, the distant haze at sunset, the Baroque panoply of the starry sky, the heavy angels of sleep, but also the cloak of evil - the worm in the heart of the rose, the sense of sin in the heart of man." Accompanied by string orchestra, the six "nocturnes" set poems by English authors spanning the 15th to 19th centuries; works include Charles Cotton's "The Day's Grown Old" (about the effects of the setting sun on the countryside, lengthening shadows and turning "brambles into tall cedars"), William Blake's darkly evocative "O Rose, thou art sick," and John Keats's "O soft embalmer of the still midnight," in which the poet asks sleep to "seal the hushe?d Casket of my Soul." Britten indicates that the Serenade's solo horn Prologue and Epilogue be performed using the instrument's natural harmonics (i.e., without using valves), an unusual tuning for audiences accustomed to the common chromatic stale. The Philharmonic has only performed this work twice, both times with Philip Myers as horn soloist: in 1984, with conductor Gunther Herbig and tenor Peter Schreier, and in 2001, with Andre? Previn and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey.

Tickets for these concerts start at $30. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts are available for multiple talks, students, and groups (visit for more information). All other tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (212) 875-5656, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. on 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. A limited number of $13.50 tickets for select concerts may be available through the Internet for students within 10 days of the performance, or in person the day of. Valid identification is required. To determine ticket availability, call the Philharmonic's Customer Relations Department at (212) 875-5656. [Ticket prices subject to change.]

Pictured: Music Director Alan Gilbert. Photo Credit: Chris Lee.