Alan Gilbert Conducts The NY Philharmonic Final Performance of LA PASSIONE 1/16
Music Director Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic in Haydn's Symphony No. 49, La passione; the Orchestra's first performance of John Adams's The Wound-Dresser, with baritone Thomas Hampson, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, as soloist; Schubert's Symphony in B minor, Unfinished; and Berg's Three Orchestral Pieces, Thursday, January 14, 2010, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, January 15 at 2:00 p.m., and Saturday, January 16, at 8:00 p.m.
Alan Gilbert, in speaking about the program, notes that "there's a direct line from Schubert to Berg, and to present Berg as the finishing movement of the Schubert symphony I think makes an interesting grouping. The Schubert Unfinished," he says, "seems to reach forward in music - there's a kind of foreshadowing of where music is going. Both of these composers use similar techniques - although it may not be apparent at face value - and Berg picks up essentially where Schubert leaves off. Schubert's music was written in the Classical period but leading into the Romantic period, and what Berg did in his serial compositional techniques and expressionist philosophy was to pick up where the Romantics left off."
Mr. Hampson, commenting on The Wound-Dresser, said that "John Adams has set to music a small extract of Walt Whitman's magnificent poem, called Drum Taps, which we know as part of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. He has taken the central part of the poem, which is quite autographical, of Walt Whitman's time in the hospitals in Washington, D.C., nursing soldiers coming back from battle in the last days of the Civil War. It is, without being overtly anti-war, one of the strongest American voices in all of American literature about the uselessness of aggression."
• Annual Erich Leinsdorf Lecture
Thomas Hampson, the Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence, will present the lecture, Listening to Thought: Awakening of the American Voice, a discussion of Walt Whitman's impact on American song and the emergence of American identity, in conversation with Philharmonic Director of Education Theodore Wiprud. Mr. Hampson, who is also The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, will perform several settings of Whitman's poetry by a variety of composers, Monday,
January 11, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. at the Walter Reade Theater, Broadway at 65th Street. Free, but tickets are required. Information: (212) 875-5656 or online at nyphil.org
• Pre-Concert Talk
New York Philharmonic Program Annotator James M. Keller will introduce the program one hour before each performance. Tickets are $5 in addition to the concert ticket. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: nyphil.org or (212) 875-5656
• New York Philharmonic Podcast
Elliott Forrest, Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, producer, and weekend host on Classical 105.9 FM WQXR, is the producer of this podcast. These award-winning previews of upcoming programs - through musical selections as well as interviews with guest artists, conductors, and Orchestra musicians - are available at nyphil.org/podcast or from iTunes.
• National Radio Broadcast
This concert will be broadcast the week of January 25, 2010,* on The New York Philharmonic This Week, a radio concert series syndicated nationally to more than 295 stations by the WFMT Radio Network. The 52-week series, hosted by the Emmy Award-winning actor Alec Baldwin, is generously underwritten by The Kaplen Foundation, 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, nyphil.org. The program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m.
*Check local listings for broadcast and program information.
Alan Gilbert began his tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in the 2009-10 season, the first native New Yorker to hold the post. For his inaugural season he has introduced a number of new initiatives: The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in- Residence Magnus Lindberg; The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence Thomas Hampson; an annual three-week festival; and CONTACT!, the New York Philharmonic's new-music series. He led the Orchestra on a major tour of Asia in October 2009, with debuts in Hanoi and Abu Dhabi; will take the musicians on a European tour in January-February 2010; and is conducting performances of world, U.S., and New York premieres. Also in the 2009-10 season Mr. Gilbert becomes the first to hold the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at The Juilliard School, a position that will include coaching, conducting, and performance master classes. Highlights of Mr. Gilbert's 2008-09 season with the New York Philharmonic included the November 14, 2008, Bernstein anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall, and a performance with the Juilliard Orchestra, presented by the Philharmonic, featuring Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, Kaddish. In May 2009 he conducted the World Premiere of Peter Lieberson's The World in Flower, a New York Philharmonic Commission, and in July 2009 he led the
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, and four concerts at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado.
In June 2008 Mr. Gilbert was named conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, following his final concert as its chief conductor and artistic advisor. He has been principal guest conductor of Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra (NDRSO) since 2004. Mr. Gilbert regularly conducts other leading orchestras in the U.S. and abroad, including the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco symphony orchestras; The Cleveland Orchestra; Munich's Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw; and Orchestre National de Lyon. In 2003 he was named the first music director of Santa Fe Opera, where he served for three seasons.
Born and raised in New York City, Alan Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School; he was a substitute violinist with The Philadelphia Orchestra for two seasons, and assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra from 1995 to 1997. In November 2008 he made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting John Adams's Dr. Atomic. His recording of Prokofiev's Scythian Suite with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
In the 2009-10 season Thomas Hampson serves as The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic as well as the Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence. In these roles he will perform three programs with the Orchestra, appear on the Orchestra's European tour, give a recital in AlIce Tully Hall, and present three lectures entitled Listening to Thought as part of the Orchestra's Insights Series.
The renowned American baritone has performed in the world's preeminent concert halls and opera houses and with many of today's most renowned musicians and orchestras; he also maintains an active interest in teaching, music research, and technology. An important interpreter of German romantic song, he is known as a leading proponent of the study of American song through his Hampsong Foundation, which he founded in 2003 to promote intercultural dialogue and understanding.
In addition to his work with the New York Philharmonic, much of Mr. Hampson's 2009-10 season is devoted to his "Song of America" project. Collaborating with the Library of Congress, Mr. Hampson is performing recitals and presenting master classes, educational activities, exhibitions, and broadcasts across the country and through a new interactive online resource, www.songofamerica.net. Other engagements include Mendelssohn's Elijah, led by Kurt Masur in Leipzig; Verdi's Ernani and Tchaikovsky's
Eugene Onegin with Zurich Opera; Verdi's La traviata at The Metropolitan Opera; solo recitals throughout the United States and in many European capitals; and the galas of the Vienna Staatsoper and the new Winspear Opera House in Dallas. Raised in Spokane, Washington, Thomas Hampson has released more than 150 albums that have received honors, including a Grammy Award, two Edison Prizes, and the Grand Prix du Disque. He has been named Kammersänger of the Vienna Staatsoper; Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France; and Special Advisor to the Study and Performance of Music in America by Dr. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress.
Joseph Haydn's 1768 Symphony No. 49 has been nicknamed La passione since Haydn's time (though not by Haydn himself) because of its dark coloring. Consisting of a
somber Adagio, an intense Allegro molto, a Minuet and Trio, and a taut Presto finale, the
symphony is among the most dramatically forceful of the composer's so-called "Sturm
und Drang" period. The New York Philharmonic first performed it in April 1941,
conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, and most recently in March 1986, led by Raymond
In his 1989 work The Wound-Dresser, American composer John Adams drew on Walt Whitman's poem of the same name. Inspired by the poet's experiences visiting wounded Civil War soldiers in Washington, D.C., hospitals, the poem is a meditation on suffering and compassion as well as an unflinching look at the reality of death. Mr. Adams has set the text for baritone solo against a rich but restrained orchestral backdrop, creating a moving and elegiac work. These will be the New York Philharmonic's first performances of The Wound-Dresser.
Few musical works have been subject to as much conjecture as Franz Schubert's Symphony in B minor, Unfinished. Schubert began the work in 1822, finishing the first two movements and sketches for the third. Then he stopped. One scholar has speculated that Schubert was intimidated by his own achievement in the piece; another that he was fearful of accusations of plagiarizing Beethoven's Symphony No. 2; another interpretation alludes to an unrequited romance. The piece was not premiered until 1865, decades after Schubert's untimely death in 1828. Although unfinished, the symphony's drama and melodic invention have ensured its reputation. The work was first performed by the New York Philharmonic in February 1869, led by Carl Bergmann, and most
recently, in May 2008, conducted by David Robertson.
Alban Berg's Three Orchestral Pieces were begun in late 1913. The composer's teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, had criticized Berg's recent works, saying they were too brief and thematically simplistic. In response, Berg promised Schoenberg that in his new composition, the Three Orchestral Pieces, he had aimed to write "character pieces ... of normal length, rich in thematic complexity, without striving for something ‘new' at all cost." The pieces do refer to traditional forms (the movements are titled "Prelude," "Round-dance," and "March") and draw on precedents in the work of Gustav Mahler.
Nevertheless, Berg's striking originality shows through, and the Three Orchestral Pieces number among his boldest and most ambitious achievements. The New York Philharmonic first performed them in November 1952, under Dmitri Mitropoulos, and most recently, in May 2004, led by Alan Gilbert.