The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Manfred Honeck close the 2016-2017 BNY Mellon Grand Classics season in joyous style with Ludwig van Beethoven’s beloved “Pastoral” Symphony and Mahler’s Seven Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn on June 23-25 at Heinz Hall.
Written during the same time he completed the Fifth Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 is a sunny work that overflows with the composer’s love of nature, offering his musical impressions of the beautiful countryside — a babbling brook, bird calls, a summer storm and the shepherds’ song of thanksgiving. One of the few of his symphonies that Beethoven named himself, this symphony aims to evoke the feelings that nature raised in him.
“How delighted I will be to ramble for awhile through the bushes, woods, under trees, through grass, and around rocks. No one can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees, and rocks produce the echo that man desires to hear,” he wrote in a letter from 1810.
World-renowned German baritone Matthias Goerne joins the orchestra for his debut with Mahler’s Seven Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. With these songs of love and war, Mahler draws from a treasure trove of folk melodies based on a collection of German poems traversing love, nature, humor and even fairytales. Goerne also will appear with the Pittsburgh Symphony in two of its concerts during the 2017 European Festivals Tour, beginning in late August.
A pre-concert talk, open to all ticketholders, with Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco will occur on stage one hour before each concert. The talk is free and open to ticketholders. Following the concerts on Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24, the Pittsburgh Cello Quartet — whose members are Pittsburgh Symphony cellists Bronwyn Bannerdt, Michael DeBruyn, Charlie Powers and Alexandra Thompson — will present a special onstage performance. The performance is free to ticketholders.
The June 25 performance is dedicated to the memory of James A. Wilkinson, former CEO and longtime board member, in grateful recognition of his tireless support and wise leadership in service to the Pittsburgh Symphony and the City of Pittsburgh.
Program notes for the weekend are available online at pittsburghsymphony.org/finale and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 25. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, are available through the Heinz Hall Box Office in person, by phone at 412-392-4900 or online at pittsburghsymphony.org/finale.
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
Renowned for his distinctive interpretations, MANFRED HONECK has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. He and the orchestra are consistently recognized for their performances and are celebrated both in Pittsburgh and abroad. To great acclaim, they regularly perform in major music capitals and festivals, among them the BBC Proms, Musikfest Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Grafenegg Festival, Carnegie Hall and the Musikverein in Vienna. This successful collaboration has also been extensively documented on recordings. The SACDs released by Reference Recordings, most recently Strauss’ Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier suites, have received numerous rave reviews, as well as two Grammy Award nominations.
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 have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado and was subsequently engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where earned the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early posts include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra, and Oslo, where he was appointed principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He went on to become music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2007 to 2011, Honeck was music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where he conducted premieres of operas by Berlioz, Mozart, Verdi, Strauss, Poulenc and Wagner. Other operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Royal Opera of Copenhagen and the Salzburg Festival.
As a guest conductor Honeck has worked with the world’s leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, 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 has been artistic director of the International Concerts Wolfegg in Germany for more than 20 years.
Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College, Carnegie Mellon University and the Catholic University of America. Most recently, he was awarded the title of honorary professor by the Austrian federal president.
MATTHIAS GOERNE is one of the most internationally sought-after vocalists and a frequent guest at renowned festivals and concert halls. He has collaborated with leading orchestras all over the world. Conductors of the first rank as well as eminent pianists are among his musical partners.
Goerne has appeared on the world’s principal opera stages, including the the Metropolitan Opera in New York; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Teatro Real in Madrid; Paris National Opera; and the Vienna State Opera. His carefully chosen roles range from Wolfram, Amfortas, Kurwenal, Wotan, Orest and Jochanaan to the title roles in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck and Béla Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle.
Goerne’s artistry has been documented on numerous recordings, many of which have received prestigious awards, including four Grammy nominations, an ICMA award and, only recently, the Diapason d’or arte. After his legendary recordings with Vladimir Ashkenazy and Alfred Brendel for Universal Music, he has recently completed the recording of a series of selected Schubert songs on 12 CDs for harmonia mundi (The Goerne/ Schubert Edition) with eminent pianists. His latest recordings of Brahms songs with Christoph Eschenbach and of Mahler songs with the BBC Symphony have received rave reviews.
From 2001 through 2005, Matthias Goerne taught as an honorary professor of song interpretation at the Robert Schumann Academy of Music in Düsseldorf. In 2001, he was appointed an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music in London. A native of Weimar, he studied with Hans-Joachim Beyer in Leipzig, and later with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
Highlights of the 2016-2017 season include concerts with leading orchestras in the United States and in Europe such as the Boston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and the Philharmonia Orchestra London, as well as a series of song recitals with Leif Ove Andsnes and Markus Hinterhäuser in Dallas, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Madrid, London and the new LOTTE Hall in Seoul, among many other venues. He will continue his world tour of Winterreise in the celebrated William Kentridge production and will also be touring major European cities with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. In addition, Goerne makes his debuts as Jochanaan (Salome) at the Vienna State Opera and as Wotan in a concert version of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried with the Hong Kong Philharmonic under Jaap van Zweden. For summer 2017, he has been re-invited to prestigious festivals including Salzburg where he will be singing the title role in Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck in addition to a song recital with Daniil Trifonov at the piano.
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, June 23, at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 24 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 25 at 2:30 p.m.
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS: Season Finale! Honeck Conducts Beethoven
MANFRED HONECK, conductor
MATTHIAS GOERNE, baritone
Seven Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn
II. Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen
III. Das irdische Leben
V. Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt
VII. Der Tamboursg’sell
Ludwig Van Beethoven:
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Opus 68, “Pastoral”
I. Awakening of cheerful feelings on arriving in the country: Allegro ma non troppo
II. Scene by the brook: Andante molto mosso
III. Merry assembly of country folk: Allegro
IV. Thunderstorm: Allegro
V. Shepherd’s Song – Happy, grateful feelings after the storm: Allegretto