Programme Guide

Brahms struggled with his First Symphony for 14 years before completing it in 1876: the example of Beethoven seemed overpowering. Nevertheless, Brahms masterfully found his own way. In his symphony, there are references to Beethoven but also a pioneering structural concept – with an introduction that already contains the germ of all the symphonyʼs thematic material.

Béla Bartók, whose Concerto for Orchestra we also hear in this concert, was an admirer of Brahms. Commissioned by the American Koussevitzky Foundation, Bartók wrote the work in 1943. The title is explained by the concertante solo treatment of individual instrument groups. When Bartók composed this work, he was already terminally ill and – in terms of his recognition as a composer – he was totally disillusioned. Nevertheless, he succeeded in creating a work which, from its sombre opening, finds its way to a life-affirming finale.

Jaap van Zweden took over the direction of this concert for an indisposed Mariss Jansons.

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