National Philharmonic: Bernstein & Beethoven Part I
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 8pm
The Music Center
Torments & Triumph:
Bernstein & Beethoven Part I
Sat + Sun: Member Encore Q&A
Sun 7-7:30pm: Meet the Musicians
Michael Brown, piano
Piotr Gajewski, conductor
Bernstein Symphony No. 2 (“The Age of Anxiety”)
Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor
“When I first read the book I was breathless … it is one of the most shattering examples of pure virtuosity in the history of English poetry.” Leonard Bernstein’s reaction to the 1948 Pulitzer Prize winning book The Age of Anxiety, by W.H. Auden, inspired him to create his majestic Symphony No. 2 (“The Age of Anxiety”), a work of kaleidoscopic breadth, innovative structure (the inclusion of piano solo), and powerful theatricality. Commissioned by Bernstein’s longtime mentor, Serge Koussevitzky, the symphony premiered on April 8,1949, with Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony and Bernstein himself as the soloist. The Symphony No. 2 then secured its position as one of the iconic works of 20th century music, even surpassing the fame of the poem that inspired it. In this first of two related concerts, Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety” symphony is paired with Beethoven’s equally charged Symphony No. 5, a work that has been interpreted as a demonstration of the human will in overcoming adverse fate. In the same way that Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 charts the dramatic narrative embodied in Auden’s poem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 unfolds a personal narrative of the triumph of the human spirit.
Equally acclaimed as a pianist and composer, Michael Brown has been described as “one of the most refined of all pianist-composers” (International Piano) and “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers” (The New York Times).
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