PITTSBURGH—The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra joins with French pianist, writer and activist Hélène Grimaud for a BNY Mellon Grand Classics program full of passionate and dramatic emotions on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2 at Heinz Hall, under the direction of Music Director Manfred Honeck.
Originally written by Johann Sebastian Bach for organ, Leopold Stokowski orchestrated Toccata and Fugue in D Minor in 1927. It has thrilled audiences since and was made famous in popular culture by Disney’s “Fantasia.” With its fiery, rich harmonies and the powerful spirit, it is surprising that Symphony No. 4 is one of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s lesser-known works. With playing touted as “superb, tightly controlled and forcefully articulated” by The Los Angeles Times, pianist and wildlife conservationist Grimaud returns to Heinz Hall with Brahms’ fierce and dramatic first piano concerto.
Each BNY Mellon Grand Classics concert is part of the Explore & Engage program, which includes pre-concert talks, exhibits, display boards and interactive activities that illuminate the music, composers and the time in which they created. This weekend, Pittsburgh Symphony Resident Conductor Larry Loh will conduct a pre-concert talk one hour before each performance.
The concerts will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $25.75 to $105.75, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900, or by visiting pittsburghsymphony.org.
The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2013-2014 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Manfred Honeck was appointed the ninth music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in January 2007, and began his tenure at the start of the 2008-2009 season. After a first extension in 2009, his contract was extended for the second time in February 2012, now through the 2019-2020 season. Honeck was born in Austria and studied music at the Academy of Music in Vienna. An accomplished violinist and violist, he spent more than 10 years as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. He began his career as conductor of Vienna’s Jeunesse Orchestra, which he co-founded, and as assistant to Claudio Abbado at the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra in Vienna. In 2010, Honeck was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. Apart from his numerous tasks as conductor, he has been artistic director of the “International Concerts Wolfegg” in Germany for more than 15 years. Honeck served as principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2011, a position he has resumed for another three years at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. As a guest conductor, Honeck has worked with major orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic and in the United States with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra Washington and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Hélène Grimaud is not just a deeply passionate and committed musical artist whose pianistic accomplishments play a central role in her life; she is a woman with multiple talents that extend far beyond the instrument she plays. The French artist is also a committed wildlife conservationist, a compassionate human rights activist and as a writer. Grimaud was born in 1969 in Aix-en-Provence where she began her piano studies at the conservatory with Jacqueline Courtin and subsequently under Pierre Barbizet in Marseille. She was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire at just 13 and won first prize in piano performance a mere three years later. She continued to study with György Sándor and Leon Fleisher until, in 1987, she gave her well-received debut recital in Tokyo. That same year the renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim invited her to perform with the Orchestre de Paris. This marked the launch of Grimaud’s musical career; one highlighted by concerts with most of the world’s major orchestras and many celebrated conductors. Between her debut in 1995 with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado and her first performance with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in 1999—just two of many acclaimed musical milestones—Grimaud established the Wolf Conservation Center in upper New York. She is also a member of the organization Musicians for Human Rights, a worldwide network of musicians and people working in the field of music to promote a culture of human rights and social change. Grimaud has also found time to pursue writing. Her first book, “Variations Sauvages,” was published in French in 2003 and subsequently translated into English, Japanese, Dutch and German. Her second book, “Leçons particulières,” which is part novel and part autobiography, followed in 2005. Most recently, she published “Retour à Salem,” also a semi-autobiographical novel, which was released in French in October 2013. Throughout this season, Brahms features prominently in Grimaud’s programming repertoire. In the autumn, Deutsche Grammophon released her album of the two Brahms piano concertos; the first concerto with Andris Nelsons conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the second recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic. Grimaud is an ardent and committed chamber musician who performs frequently at the most prestigious festivals and cultural events with a wide range of musical collaborators that has included Sol Gabetta, Thomas Quasthoff, Rolando Villazón, Jan Vogler, Truls Mørk, Clemens Hagen and the Capuçon brothers.
Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a nonprofit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Heinz Hall hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.
Editors Please Note:
Friday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 2 at 2:30 p.m.
PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS
MANFRED HONECK, conductor
HÉLÈNE GRIMAUD, pianist
Johann Sebastian Bach (Orch. by Leopold Stokowski):
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
Ludwig Van Beethoven:
Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Opus 60
- I. Adagio – Allegro vivace
- II. Adagio
- III. Allegro vivace
- IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Concerto No. 1 in D minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 15
- I. Maestoso
- II. Adagio
- III. Rondo: Allegro non troppo