Under the baton of debuting conductor Markus Stenz, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) will perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, "Eroica" tonight, October 4 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, and Saturday, October 6 at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. German violinist Kolja Blacher will make his BSO debut performing Schumann's Violin Concerto. In addition, the Orchestra will perform Chaos from Rebel's The Elements. Please see below for complete program details.
Originally, Beethoven subtitled his Third Symphony "Sinfonia eroica, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man," which many believe is a dedication to the French revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte. "Eroica" means "heroic" in Italian, which symbolizes the ideals of the French Revolution that Beethoven held in such high esteem. However, upon hearing that Bonaparte crowned himself emperor in 1804, Beethoven tore off the title page of score that bore the dedication. Beethoven's Third Symphony is groundbreaking in that it is twice as long as many classical symphonies and its themes of aggression and power conveyed through unexpected harmonies makes the symphony a model for other composers.
Described as "sorrowful, romantic, mature and lyrical" by Yehudi Menuhin, Schumann's violin concerto is an emotional piece in three movements. Written just two years before his death, the violin concerto was Schumann's last major work before his mental instability caused him to stop composing. After Schumann's death in 1856, the violin concerto went unpublished and was effectively forgotten about until its discovery in 1933. The piece was first performed in 1937, and has since become part of the standard violin repertoire. Guest violinist Kolja Blacher's 2011 recording of this work on the Phil.harmonie label earned praise from critics, including the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which hailed it as "utterly unique."
French composer Jean-Féry Rebel's Les élémens depict the creation of the world. The BSO will perform the Symphony's introduction, "Chaos." In the composer's own words, "The introduction to this Symphony was natural; it was Chaos itself, this confusion which reigned between the Elements before the instant when, subject to invariable laws, they took their prescribed place in the order of nature. I dared to combine the confusion of the Elements with harmonic confusion. I tried to make heard all the sounds mingled together, or rather all the notes of the octave together in one chord."