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Ivan Fischer in Carnegie Hall

Ivan Fischer conducts the Orchestra of St. Luke's on Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 8 PM in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage.

Orchestra of St. Luke's
Iván Fischer, Conductor
Jonathan Biss, Piano


WEINER Serenade, Op. 3
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto
BARTÓK Hungarian Sketches
MOZART Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter"

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Orchestra of St. Luke's
Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) is one of America's foremost and most versatile orchestras, regularly collaborating with the world's greatest artists and performing approximately 70 concerts each year-including its orchestra series at Carnegie Hall, its chamber music series at The Morgan Library & Museum and the Brooklyn Museum, and its summer residency at the Caramoor Music Festival. OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works; given more than 150 world, US, and New York premieres; and appears on more than 90 recordings, including four Grammy Award-winning albums and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke's Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado, who was named 2014 Conductor of the Year by Musical America, is OSL's principal conductor.
OSL grew out of a chamber ensemble that gathered in the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village in 1974. Today, St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble consists of 21 virtuoso artists who make up OSL's artistic core and are dedicated to a diverse repertoire that spans the Baroque to contemporary works.
OSL owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The DiMenna Center is one of New York City's premier venues for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 50,000 visitors, including more than 300 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, and James Levine. OSL also hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and schoolchildren at its home each year for free community events.
OSL's Community & Education programs have introduced audiences across New York City to live classical music. OSL brings free chamber concerts to the five boroughs; offers free interactive music programs at its home, The DiMenna Center for Classical Music; provides chamber music coaching for adult amateurs; and reaches 10,000 public school students each year through free school concerts and in-school instruction. In July 2013, OSL and the Police Athletic League (PAL) launched Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's (YOSL), an after-school orchestra and instrumental coaching program that emphasizes musical excellence and social development. Visit for more information.

Iván Fischer
Iván Fischer has been music director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra since he founded the celebrated ensemble in 1983, a partnership that has proven to be one of the greatest success stories in the past three decades of classical music. As a guest conductor, Mr. Fischer works with the world's finest symphony orchestras. He has been invited to conduct the Berliner Philharmoniker more than 10 times, and devotes two weeks every year to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He was principal guest conductor and principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC, from 2006 to 2009. He has also appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mr. Fischer's opera engagements have included the Vienna State Opera, Glyndebourne, and the Opéra National de Lyon, where he was music director from 2000 to 2003. In the summers of 2011 and 2013, he conducted and directed highly acclaimed performances of Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival.
Mr. Fischer's frequent international touring with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and his more than 50 recordings with the ensemble for Philips and Channel Classics have contributed to his reputation as one of the world's most visionary and successful orchestra leaders. In August 2012, he added a new post to his worldwide schedule, becoming music director of the Konzerthaus Berlin and principal conductor of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. Mr. Fischer studied piano, violin, and cello, and is an active composer. His works have been performed in the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and most recently Hungary, where a varied group of his compositions comprised two complete concert programs in Budapest. He is a founder of the Hungarian Mahler Society and Patron of the British Kodály Academy. He received the Golden Medal Award from the President of the Republic of Hungary, the Kossuth Prize, the Royal Philharmonic Award, the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum, and the Dutch De Ovatie prize. He has been named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government and is an honorary citizen of Budapest.

Jonathan Biss
American pianist Jonathan Biss is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence, and deeply felt interpretations. He has won international recognition for his orchestral, recital, and chamber music performances, and for his award-winning recordings. In the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Biss's orchestral engagements include the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony, among others. He continues to perform major recital series in the US and in Europe, and gives a solo recital at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage in January 2014.
In January 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven's complete sonatas. Mr. Biss wrote about this recording project and his relationship with Beethoven's music more generally in Beethoven's Shadow, an essay published electronically by RosettaBooks as a Kindle Single, available from His next Kindle Single, A Pianist Under the Influence, was released shortly thereafter.
Jonathan Biss represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians that includes his grandmother, Raya Garbousova, one of the first well-known female cellists (for whom Samuel Barber composed his Cello Concerto), and his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist-violinist Paul Biss. Growing up surrounded by music, Mr. Biss began his piano studies at age six, and his first musical collaborations were with his mother and father. He studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Leon Fleisher. In 2010, Mr. Biss was appointed to Curtis's piano faculty, and in September 2013, he and the Curtis Institute of Music partnered with Coursera-the leading provider of "massive online open courses"-to offer a free, online course on Beethoven's piano sonatas. More than 30,000 people enrolled in the course-seven times the total number of students who have attended Curtis since the school opened its doors in October 1924.
For more information about Jonathan Biss and to read his blog about his life as a musician, go to or visit his fan page on Facebook.


WEINER Serenade, Op. 3

SCHUMANN Piano Concerto

BARTÓK Hungarian Sketches

MOZART Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter"

At a Glance
Leó Weiner and Béla Bartók—two Hungarian composers whose lives overlapped substantially—offer different ways of treating folk-music material and approaching their audiences with music derived from their native land. Weiner remained essentially a Romantic composer, while Bartók developed an advanced musical language that grew out of folk traditions. But in the case of both pieces on tonight's program, while folk characteristics are palpable, neither is based on the quotation of traditional music.
The two pieces by composers of Germanic Europe were composed when both men were in their early 30s. Schumann, at 30, was in just his first year as a composer of orchestral music, turning out an early version of what became the Piano Concerto in A Minor, which he enlarged and performed four years later. Mozart, though only 32 at the time he composed the "Jupiter" Symphony, was only three years from the end of his life, and in this extraordinary work he brought to an end the list of his symphonic works.

LEÓ WEINER - Serenade for Small Orchestra, Op. 3
About the Composer
Though he is far less known than his near contemporaries Bartók and Kodály, Leó Weiner got off to a faster start in terms of awards and popular acclaim. His first musical studies were with his brother, but when he entered the conservatory in Budapest, he began winning prizes at once—the Liszt Stipend in 1906 and later the Volkmann Prize and the Erkel Prize. He began teaching theory there in 1908 and retired from the conservatory in 1949, but continued to teach for the remainder of his life.
Weiner's musical style always stayed more closely aligned with Romantic composers of the generation preceding his maturity, but it was fresh and well made. Still, in a period when stylistic novelty was much sought after, his relative conservatism kept him from international recognition.
About the Work
The three prizes that came to Weiner in the conservatory were awarded for a single work: the Op. 3 Serenade, composed in his first year there. Its four movements are all colorfully scored, featuring each of the instrumental families with effective contrast.
A Closer Listen

The dance-like character and syncopated rhythms of the opening movement suggest the influence of Dvořák. In the second movement, lively and very rhythmical, irregular phrasings and a stomping character give an energetic drive. The third movement features solos on the clarinet, a chattering bassoon part, lilting oboe, and lively flute. The finale explodes in lively activity with a main theme that features the same light syncopation as that in the opening movement.

ROBERT SCHUMANN - Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
About the Composer
In the 1830s, almost all of Robert Schumann's compositions were for the piano, the instrument he knew best. By the end of the decade, he had married the superb pianist Clara Wieck, who was his soul mate, inspiration, and ideal interpreter. His joy at their marriage generated three amazing years of composition: songs in 1840, orchestral music in 1841, and chamber music in 1842. The "orchestral year" saw the composition of the First Symphony and a "symphonette" published as Overture, Scherzo, and Finale. After this, he wrote a Fantaisie in A Minor for piano and orchestra that we now know as the first movement of the concerto. Finally, he wrote the D-Minor Symphony, which was published (after some rewriting) as the Fourth Symphony a decade later.
When he could not find a publisher interested in accepting the Fantaisie, he added two more movements four years later to make it a full-fledged piano concerto.
About the Work
Schumann was not interested in composing a piano concerto similar to the majority of the works being created in the late 1830s—works intended primarily to show off the technical dexterity of the soloist with brilliant, empty show. The piano is, of course, the preeminent participant in the concerto, but equally wonderful is the variety of chamber music textures that Schumann finds in the orchestra with soloists or small groups intertwining with the pianist or responding to the piano's musical ideas.
A Closer Listen
Following the opening outburst of dotted chords tossed off by the fistful, Schumann presents the principal—indeed, almost the only!—thematic idea in the movement, a pensive, lyric melody that begins with three descending notes. That melody comes back in many guises-in C major as the second theme, in A-flat to start the development with the air of an intimate sonata for clarinet and piano, and finally, after the cadenza, in a faster march rhythm for a stirring close.

The slow movement offers a change of pace, an interlude between the two large outer movements, filled with delicate and pensive touches and another example of Schumann's way of creating a new melody (the yearning second subject) out of a tiny figure heard at the climax of the movement's opening phrase.
As the Intermezzo runs its course, distant recollections of the concerto's opening theme suddenly explode into an exuberant rondo based on the main theme of the first movement. It is, in part, Schumann's rhythm that keeps this music perpetually fresh, and the most striking rhythmic passage in the piece (and the trickiest) comes at the second theme of the finale, where rests create the effect of one broad bar of 3/2 time in the place of two bars of 3/4. Schumann's sense of scale and proportion never deserts him, and the close of the last movement is at once shapely in form and irresistible in its verve.

BÉLA BARTÓK - Hungarian Sketches
About the Composer
The discovery of Hungarian folk music allowed Béla Bartók to grow from a talented imitator of Richard Strauss into a profoundly original composer. His first large-scale composition was the symphonic poem Kossuth (1903), a musical depiction of the great 19th-century Hungarian patriot, its shape and style modeled on Strauss's Ein Heldenleben.
But in the summer of 1904, Bartók made a discovery that turned his musical world around. While staying in the country that July, he heard a real Hungarian folk song on the lips of an 18-year-old girl who was working as a nursemaid in a neighboring house. She was a Székely, that is, a Hungarian from Transylvania. Bartók was fascinated with the tune.
About the Work
The indigenous culture of the genuine Hungarian folk song seemed to Bartók something entirely new and fresh, and he began actively collecting this material. For several years from 1905, he and Zoltán Kodály devoted most of their free time to this activity, recording thousands of songs with the primitive technology of the day. In the course of his ethnomusicological studies, Bartók absorbed the melos of Hungarian music so that, when he wished, he could create original works that seem virtually to speak the language.
Indeed, so naturally did a "Hungarian" sound come to him that when, in 1931, he decided to create an orchestral set of Hungarian images, he did not need to draw directly from folk music at all, but rather orchestrated earlier piano pieces composed during or immediately after his intense period of collecting.
The impetus for the orchestral work came when his publisher urged him to compose something in the "easy" style of his 1923 Dance Suite, which received many performances, while his larger works received few or no performances at all.
A Closer Listen

Bartók did not want to turn his back on his current style simply to create something that would sell, but he was comfortable drawing upon his own earlier compositions and giving them an orchestral dress. By placing two scherzos as the second and fourth sketches and surrounding them with quieter and slower music that sounded like Hungarian folksongs, he gave the work as a whole the kind of symmetrical shape that he loved.
"An Evening at the Village" and "Bear Dance" are nos. 5 and 10 of his Ten Easy Pieces from the late spring of 1908; "Melody" is the second of Four Dirges from summer 1909; "A Bit Tipsy" is the middle movement of Three Burlesques from May 1911; and the final "Dance of the Urog Swineherds"  is  from the piano cycle For Children of 1908 and 1909. All of these works are reflections of the greatly changed composer who had thoroughly absorbed the music of his people.

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART - Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551, "Jupiter"
About the Composer
From time to time in the history of music we are confronted with a case of such astonishing fluency and speed of composition that we can only marvel. But few examples of such high-voltage composition are as impressive as Mozart's feat in the summer of 1788, composing his last three symphonies along with a number of smaller pieces in less than two months.
In this case, our awe comes not just from the sheer speed with which the notes were put down on paper, but rather from the extraordinary range of mood and character represented in these three symphonies. We'd be hard pressed to find three more strikingly varied works from the pen of a single composer; how much more miraculous it is, then, that the three symphonies were written almost at one sitting, and not in the happiest of circumstances.
About the Work
By June 1788, a general business recession in Vienna had played a role in the steady decline of Mozart's fortunes, culminating in his death at age 35, three and a half years later. During that month, Mozart repeatedly had to borrow money from his friend and fellow Mason, Michael Puchberg. Symphonies only paid if there was a concert at which the composer could expect some of the income from ticket sales, and Mozart probably wrote all three of his last symphonies with the aim of introducing them at his own concerts—but as far as we know, the concerts never took place.
A Closer Listen
Symphony No. 41 came immediately after the G-Minor Symphony, K. 550, a work filled with the intense passion that Mozart always associated with that key. Having gotten that out of his system, he wrote a very different work, a major-key symphony of festive formality, completed on August 10. The nickname "Jupiter" was not attached to this piece until after Mozart's death (no one seems to know where it came from).
Mozart begins with two brief, strikingly contrasted ideas: a fanfare for the full orchestra followed immediately by a soft lyrical phrase in the strings. These two diverse ideas would seem to come from two different musical worlds, but presently Mozart links them with a single counterpoint for flute and oboes. The motives continue to animate the discourse through the modulation to the dominant and the presentation of the second theme. After a stormy passage for full orchestra, the skies clear again and Mozart presents a whistleable little tune to round off the end of the exposition and reinforce the new key. This tune was borrowed from an aria that he had composed the preceding May (K. 541), with the words Voi siete un po tondo, mio caro Pompeo, l'usanze del mondo andate a studiar. (You are a little dense, my dear Pompeo; go study the way of the world.)
The second movement seems calm and serene at the outset, but it becomes agitated as it moves from F major to C minor and introduces a figure that seems to change the meter from 3/4 to 2/4; when the thematic material returns, it is decorated in a highly ornate way. The passing chromatic notes so evident throughout the last two symphonies lend a slightly pensive air to the Minuet of this one, as well.
The finale is the most famous, most often studied, and most astonishing movement in the work. Mozart forms his themes out of contrapuntal thematic ideas of venerable antiquity—­ideas that combine with one another in an incredible variety of ways. But he lays out the movement in the normal sonata-form pattern, employing his thematic materials to signal the principal key, and the modulation to the dominant and the secondary key area. It sounds rather straightforward at first, but gradually we realize that this is going to be something of a technical showpiece. At the beginning of the development, we hear some of the themes—not only in their original form, but also upside down. New arrangements of the material appear in the recapitulation, but nothing prepares us for the sheer tour de force of the coda, when Mozart brings all of the thematic ideas together in a single contrapuntal unity. The closing pages of Mozart's last symphony contain the very epitome of contrapuntal skill (something often decried as a dry and pedantic attainment) employed in the service of an exciting musical climax. We end with a sensation produced by more than one passage in Mozart's works: Everything fits and all the world is in tune.
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