Prague is the city that cherished Mozart, inspired Smetana and Janáček, and launched Dvořák. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra celebrates the city’s unique place in musical history during the BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend, “Mozart in Prague,” on March 10 & 12 at Heinz Hall.
Slovakian conductor Juraj Valčuha returns to Pittsburgh with a program inspired by this magical city — from Smetana’s famous Moldau, depicting the river flowing through the city, to Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, nicknamed the “Prague,” premiered in Prague in 1787. This weekend’s program features the debut of Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi, performing Dvořák’s Piano Concerto, last heard in Heinz Hall over a decade ago. The program closes with Dvořák’s colorful Carnival Overture, in which the composer depicts a city at nightfall, filled with “shouts of joy and unrestrained hilarity.”
A pre-concert talk, open to all ticketholders, will occur on stage one hour before each concert. On Friday, students from the Pittsburgh Piano Teachers’ Association and, on Sunday, a Youth Chamber Connection ensemble will perform one hour before concert start time in the Grand Lobby of Heinz Hall. These performances are free and open to ticketholders. Program notes for the weekend are available online at pittsburghsymphony.org/Prague and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/Prague.
The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2016-2017 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. Radio station WQED-FM 89.3 and WQEJ-FM 89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
About the Artists
JURAJ VALČUHA has been chief conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI since 2009. He studied composition and conducting in Bratislava, St. Petersburg with Ilya Musin, and Paris.
He debuted with Orchestre National de France in 2005. In the following seasons, he led the Philharmonia Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Swedish Radio, Oslo Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale in Florence, and Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome. He made his U.S. debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and National Symphony in Washington, D.C.
In 2011-2012, he made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony and led again the Staatskapelle Dresden, Pittsburgh Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and Orchestra di Santa Cecilia. With his RAI Orchestra, he made a tour primarily to the Musikverein Vienna, the Philharmonie in Berlin, the Enescu Festival in Bucharest, and the Abu Dhabi Classics with soloist Yo-Yo Ma. In 2012-2013, he had his debut with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Filarmonica della Scala in Milan and Art Centre Ottawa and led again the NSO Washington, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and Philharmonia.
In 2013-2014, he returned to the Pittsburgh Symphony, WDR Cologne, NDR Hamburg, Philharmonia, Swedish Radio Orchestra, NHK for a Japan tour and Munich Philharmonic, and conducted opera productions (Puccini´s Madama Butterfly and Prokofiev’s The Love for three Oranges) at the Maggio Musicale in Florence; he took part at the Bratislava Festival with the Orchestra dell´Accademia di Santa Cecilia.
His engagements in 2014-2015 took him back to the San Francisco, NSO Washington, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh Symphony orchestras as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With the Philharmonia at the RFH, he paid a tribute to Lorin Maazel with the Respighi Trilogy. He also had debuts with the St. Louis Symphony and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal as well as the Wiener Symphoniker, the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and the HR Frankfurt. The Rai touring took them to Munich, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Basel and Zurich with pianist Arcadi Volodos. On the opera house, he conducted productions of Turandot at Teatro di San Carlo in Naples and Jenůfa at Teatro Comunale in Bologna.
The 2015-2016 marked his return with the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony and San Francisco Symphony, and a debut with the Minnesota Orchestra. Recurring visits to the Munich Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Swedish Radio and NDR Hamburg Symphony and Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome occurred, as well as Maggio Musicale in Florence. He was touring with Bamberg Symphony to the Beethoven Festival in Bonn, Frankfurt and Cologne as well as with NDR Hamburg to the Bratislava Festival. During the Easter time he conducted Parsifal at the Budapest Opera.
In 2016-2017, he will debut with the Chicago Symphony and will lead again the San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Utah Symphony orchestras, Art Center Ottawa, National Symphony in Washington, OSM Montreal and Minnesota Orchestra. In Europe, he will return to the HR Frankfurt, NDR Hamburg, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Philharmonia and at the Bratislava Festival, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome. On the Opera, he will conduct Pique Dame in Florence, Elektra at Teatro di San Carlo Naples and Peter Grimes at Teatro Comunale Bologna.
FRANCESCO PIEMONTESI is a pianist of exceptional refinement of expression, which is allied to a consummate technical skill. Widely renowned for his interpretation of Mozart and the early Romantic repertoire, Piemontesi’s pianism and sensibility has a close affinity too with the later 19th century and 20th century repertoire of Brahms, Liszt, Dvořák, Ravel, Debussy, Bartók and beyond. Of one of his great teachers and mentors, Alfred Brendel, Piemontesi says that Brendel taught him “to love the detail of things.”
Piemontesi appears with major ensembles worldwide, including Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, DSO and Berlin Radio Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, The Hallé, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Danish National Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Israel Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale, the Cleveland Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has performed with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, David Afkham, Nicholas Collon, Charles Dutoit, Manfred Honeck, Marek Janowski, Andrew Manze, Zubin Mehta, Sir Roger Norrington, Sakari Oramo, Vasily Petrenko and Robin Ticciati.
Piemontesi is also a natural and keen chamber musician and plays with a variety of partners – the Emerson Quartet, Antoine Tamestit and Jörg Widmann in trio, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Clemens Hagen, Angelika Kirchschlager, Daniel Müller-Schott and, during his formative years, Heinrich Schiff.
In solo recital, he has appeared in many prestigious venues including London Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Rotterdam De Doelen, Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York, Berlin Philharmonie, Zürich Tonhalle, Vienna Konzerthaus and Musikverein. In January 2016, Piemontesi launched his complete Mozart Odyssey at the Wigmore Hall, performing the sonatas in a series of recitals over the course of three seasons.
Piemontesi has performed at the Edinburgh International Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron, New York Mostly Mozart, Chopin International Music Festival in Warsaw, Lucerne Festival, Schubertiade, Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival, and Rheingau and Schleswig-Holstein festivals.
Piemontesi has released a number of fine recordings, including three recordings for Naïve Classique: the Debussy Préludes, released in autumn 2015; Mozart Piano Works; and Schumann and Dvořák’s Piano Concerti with BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek.
Born in Locarno, Piemontesi studied with Arie Vardi before working with Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia, Cécile Ousset and Alexis Weissenberg. He rose to international prominence with prizes at several major competitions, including the 2007 Queen Elisabeth Competition and, between 2009 and 2011, he was chosen as a BBC New Generation Artist. In 2012, Piemontesi was announced as artistic director of the Settimane Musicali di Ascona.
The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 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), André 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. Its “Pittsburgh Live!” series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. 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 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 hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, popular touring artists, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.
Editors Please Note:
Friday, March 10, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 12, at 2:30 p.m.
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS: Mozart in Prague
JURAJ VALČUHA, conductor
FRANCESCO PIEMONTESI, piano
“The Moldau,” No. 2 from Má vlast
Concerto in G minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 33
I. Allegro agitato
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Finale: Allegro con fuoco
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, “Prague”
I. Adagio – Allegro
Carnival Overture, Opus 92