Witness classical music’s most famous symphony like never before — the way Beethoven intended. Richard Egarr leads this emotionally-charged work of clever rhapsody. Beethoven was famous for breaking tradition and Symphony No. 5 represents many firsts — the first symphony to use trombones, the first to reintroduce material from a previous movement, and the first to end in a different key from where it starts. Egarr also takes a turn at the fortepiano for Haydn’s lively Keyboard Concerto No. 11, and conducts Haydn’s Symphony No. 101, The Clock.
conductor & fortepiano
- Mozart: Overture to Don Giovanni
- Haydn: Symphony No. 101 in D Major, The Clock
- Haydn: Keyboard Concerto No. 11 in D Major
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
One hour before the start of each performance in Symphony Hall's Cabot-Cahners Room. Please note: lecture seating is limited.
H2 Young Professionals
After the 3/18 performance, join us at Symphony 8.
Richard Egarr CD Signing
After the 3/20 performance, conductor Richard Egarr will sign CDs at Symphony Hall.
Christina Day Martinson
Heather Miller Lardin
In November 1792, Count Waldstein (1762–1823), a supporter and friend of Ludwig van Beethoven with ties to Bonn and Vienna, wrote that the young composer was traveling to Vienna to “receive Mozart’s spirit from Haydn’s hands.” This insightful and now often-quoted remark about the relationship between these three musical innovators will no doubt come to mind with the works on today’s program.
Composed in 1787 for Prague, Mozart’s The Dissolute Man Punished or Don Giovanni tells the story of a nobleman who has insatiable appetites for wine, food, and women. This idea, and ultimately the consequences of his actions, is explored throughout the opera. The slow introduction of the Overture, which foreshadows Giovanni’s fate, draws us into the story immediately. A faster section of the Overture then turns to Major and brings a new feeling of pleasure, excitement, and playfulness. The themes in this section are plentiful, rising and falling as the Overture moves to its highest point of tension and then stops. Mozart then introduces descending unison pitches as the answer to this tension. The ease with which Mozart weaves diverse musical ideas into dramatic wholes is a hallmark not only of Don Giovanni but also of his compositions in general.
Haydn’s expertise in developing large-scale works from the smallest of musical motives is evident in his Symphony No. 101 (“The Clock”) and the Keyboard Concerto No. 11 in D Major. The concerto, composed between 1780 and 1784, was one of approximately fifteen works for solo keyboard and orchestra composed by Haydn. The most popular concerto in Haydn’s lifetime, it was issued by eight different publishers in five countries.
The opening theme of the first movement, Vivace, is embellished immediately with the unaccompanied first solo entrance. The rhythmic momentum and virtuosic passagework is unrelenting as the movement drives to the cadenza. In the second movement, Un poco Adagio, the keyboard again enters alone; the orchestra enters slightly later as accompaniment. A sense of conversation then develops with the introduction of a new theme in triplets; the unhurried sense of rhythmic motion that balances beautifully with the first movement.
The Rondo all’Ungarese (rondo in the Gypsy or Hungarian style) begins with both soloist and orchestra together. The main rondo theme is based on folk dance melodies. However, Haydn interrupts the flow of the dance with brief pauses; these pauses return later in the movement. The main idea alternates with two other themes, the second of which turns to minor and features the trills and off-beat accents commonly associated at this time with Gypsy or Hungarian music.
The Symphony No. 101 in D Major (“The Clock”) was composed between 1793 and 1794. One of six symphonies Haydn composed for his second trip to London (1794–1795), it contains some easy-to-remember melodies that Haydn found his English audiences preferred. Haydn understood his audience well; the first two movements were encored at the London premiere on March 3, 1794.
The first movement begins with a slow introduction in minor; it features several fermatas, each of which mark the end of a phrase and create something of a musical question mark. That question is answered with the beginning of the fast section, Presto. The second half of the movement begins with a dialogue between the first and second violins. Gradually other instruments are added and, with Haydn’s inimitable sense of timing, the movement builds new heights of expression.
The name for this symphony comes from the second movement and its steady, clock-like beat (pizzicato in the strings and staccato in the winds) which provides the backdrop for explorations of key and instrument combinations. A stop before the final variation signals the charming conclusion to this movement.
The Minuet alternates between strong upward leaps and sliding descents. Flute, with strings playing a pulsing accompaniment, opens the Trio section and provides a folk-like contrast to the driving Minuet.
In the Finale, Haydn combines folk elements, such as repeating bass lines, with contrapuntal techniques. As the movement draws to a close, Haydn builds the orchestral texture much as he did in the first movement. Never satisfied with the merely obvious, Haydn creates an even more expectant — and delightful — conclusion for the symphony.
Surely one of the most recognizable openings in music, the four-note motive of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 becomes the source material to be explored throughout the symphony. Beethoven permeates the first movement with this idea. After being announced twice, we hear the motive in two ways: passed around the orchestra in imitation and proclaimed by the full orchestra playing it together.
The motive takes on a new guise in the second movement; it is altered both rhythmically and melodically when taken up by the brass. In the third movement, Beethoven transforms the motive back into something unyielding and alternates it with a rising idea played in the basses and cellos. The third and fourth movements are played without any pause and are connected by the now familiar-sounding motive played in the timpani. With the final movement, Beethoven creates a ballast for the first three movements by transforming the motive into a rising, triumphant idea played by the full orchestra plus new instruments reserved for this movement: piccolo, contrabassoon, and trombones.
Haydn was a master of constructing large-scale works from a small amount of musical material. Mozart created musical drama within a purely instrumental context. And Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony embodies both characteristics. Each composer on today’s program expanded the concept of orchestral music in their lifetime, inspiring and influencing each other to new heights of musical expression.
Program notes prepared by Teresa M. Neff, Ph.D.
2010–2011 Historically Informed Performance Fellow
Artists, dates, and programming are subject to change.
Symphony no. 5