Manfred Honeck Welcomes Brother Rainer to BNY Mellon Grand Classics

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Music Director Manfred Honeck and his brother, Rainer Honeck, keep it in the family as Rainer makes his Heinz Hall debut during BNY Mellon Grand Classics: Brothers Honeck April 17-19. This weekend marks the first time the two have performed together professionally.

Rainer Honeck, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, joins the Pittsburgh Symphony as featured soloist in Benjamin Britten’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. Dedicated to Spanish violinist and Britten’s friend Antonio Brosa, the stunning work delivers an emotional impact as it expresses the profound tragedy of loss during the Spanish Civil War through its easily recognizable Spanish themes and rhythms.

The concert’s program opens with Maestro Honeck’s latest arrangement of an operatic score into a concert piece, a Suite from Dvořák’s Rusalka Fantasy, best known for its beautiful “Song to the Moon.” The program closes with Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, “Pathétique,” the composer’s powerful farewell to life.

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 were created. A pre-concert talk, open to all ticket holders, led by Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh and Guest Assistant Conductor Christian Capocaccia will occur on stage one hour before each concert.

This weekend’s concerts will be recorded by the symphony’s partner, Reference Recordings, for a future commercial release.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 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 visiting

Senior ($30) and student ($15) rush tickets are available in person only at the Heinz Hall box office starting two hours prior to BNY Mellon Grand Classics and PNC Pops concerts. Valid student ID required (one ticket per ID). Rush tickets are limited to certain seating sections and are subject to availability.

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2014-2015 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 2 (credit Felix Broede)Manfred Honeck has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. After two extensions, his contract now runs until the end of the 2019-2020 season. To great acclaim, Honeck and his orchestra perform regularly for European audiences. Since 2010, annual tour performances have led them to numerous European music capitals and major music festivals, including Rheingau Musik Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Musikfest Berlin, Grafenegg Festival, Lucerne Festival and the BBC Proms. Several recordings, amongst them Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, which won a 2012 International Classical Music Award, are available on Japanese label Exton. Honeck’s successful work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is now captured by Reference Recordings. The first SACD — of Strauss tone poems — was released in fall 2013 and received rave reviews. The second recording, of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 and the Symphonic Suite from Janaček’s opera Jenüfa, conceptualized by Honeck himself, followed in summer 2014 and received a Grammy Award nomination. Several additional recordings are completed, and Bruckner No. 4 was released in February 2015 to high critical praise. Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early stations of his career include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Oslo, where he assumed the post of music director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and was engaged as principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for several years. From 2000 to 2006, he was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, 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 leading international orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the United States include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also is a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. In February 2013, he had his successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the direct result of which was a CD recording together with Anne-Sophie Mutter (works of Dvorak). The current season sees returns to Bamberg, Stuttgart, Rome and New York as well as to the Vienna Symphony (a CD of works by the Strauss family was released in summer 2013) and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He also will conduct Tonhalleorchester Zürich and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others. Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and, most recently, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He has been artistic director of the “International Concerts Wolfegg” in Germany for more than 15 years.

Honeck, Rainer_webRainer Honeck was born 1961 in Nenzing, Austria, and started learning violin at the age of seven; he pursued his studies at the High School of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna with Edith Bertschinger and privately with Alfred Staar (a member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra). Honeck joined the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra as a first violinist in 1981, advancing to the position of concertmaster in the Opera in 1984 and to that of concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1992. While his work with the orchestra remains central to his musical life, Honeck is a renowned soloist, with concert appearances in Austria and in Europe, Japan and America. Personal highlights with the Vienna Philharmonic include Dvořák’s Violin Concerto under Mariss Jansons, Mozart’s concertos under Riccardo Muti and Herbert Blomstedt and Berg’s Violin Concerto with Daniele Gatti. He also played the Berg concerto with the Symphony Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre under Valery Gergiev and the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. Further he performed the Stravinsky Violin Concerto under Andrés Oroczo-Estrada and with the London Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Harding. Recordings of note as concertmaster include live productions of Rimskij-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” with the Vienna Philharmonic and Seiji Ozawa (Philips) and Richard Strauss’ “A Hero’s Life” under Christian Thielemann (Deutsche Grammophon). He has further recorded Dvorak’s and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concertos with the Czech Philharmonic in Prague (Pony Canyon label), Franz Schubert’s Complete Works for Violin and Piano (Frohla Studios), a double CD of Mozart’s Violin Concertos released under the Orfeo label as well as an interesting “Rondo” CD as soloist and leader of the Chamber Orchestra Vienna-Berlin (Sony). Rainer Honeck’s intensive work as a chamber musician — founding member and leader of the “Wiener Virtuosen,” of the Vienna String Soloists, primarius of the Ensemble Wien and the Chamber Orchestra Vienna-Berlin—also is well documented in radio, television and CD productions. All this “leading” experience, both as concertmaster and with various chamber music ensembles, seemed a natural stepping stone to extend his repertoire to encompass orchestral literature, conducting such orchestras as the Kioi Sinfonietta; the Nagoya Philharmonic; the Sapporo Symphony and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (Japan); the Malmö Symphony Orchestra (Sweden); the Symphony Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg (Russia); the Philharmonic Orchestra in Nice (France) and the Austrian-Hungarian Haydn Philharmonie. Honeck plays the “ex-Hämmerle” Stradivarius violin (1709); the instrument is a loan from the Austrian National Bank.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, known for its artistic excellence for more than 119 years, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004).  This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series Previn and the Pittsburgh. The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900—including 36 international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Heinz Hall also hosts many other 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

Editors please note:

Friday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 19 at 2:30 p.m.

Heinz Hall

Dvořák (concept by Manfred Honeck; orchestration by Thomas Ille):

Rusalka Fantasy

Benjamin Britten:

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 15
I. Moderato con moto
II. Vivace
III. Passacaglia: Andante leto (un poco meno mosso)
Mr. Honeck

 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Opus 74, “Pathétique”
I. Adagio – Allegro non troppo
II. Allegro con grazia
III. Allegro molto vivace
IV. Finale: Adagio lamentoso



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