Violinist Stefan Jackiw Joins the Baltimore Symphony in Beethoven's Violin Concerto, November 13, 15-16
Juanjo Mena conducts works by Beethoven, Schumann
Baltimore, Md. (October 9, 2008)- Under the baton of guest conductor Juanjo Mena, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, featuring 23-year-old violin prodigy Stefan Jackiw, November 13 and 16 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and November 15 at the Music Center at Strathmore. The program also features Schumann's Symphony No. 4 in D Minor and Beethoven's Ritterballett Music. See below for complete program information.
Surprisingly absent of his usual angst, Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major is free of conflict and full of joy. Written between 1806 and 1808, the concerto's delightful nature may be due to Beethoven's prolific period during that time, as well as his reconciliation with the loss of his hearing. Originally written for the 26-year-old virtuoso Franz Clement, concertmaster of Vienna's Theater an der Wien, the concerto is considered one of the most difficult in the violin repertoire. Clement never managed a complete rehearsal before the premiere, as Beethoven was finishing the work until immediately before the performance. After its debut, the piece faded away, and was considered "unplayable" until another prodigy, 12-year-old Joseph Joachim, reestablished its place in the repertoire in 1844. Now considered the peak of a violinist's achievements, the Violin Concerto in D is performed by the Baltimore Symphony with a violin prodigy in his own right, Stefan Jackiw.
Before Beethoven became the musical titan he is remembered as today, and long before he composed the Violin Concerto in D, he was busy working at the Bonn court of the Elector of Cologne, performing various musical tasks. His father had become kapellmeister or music director at the same court, but was hampered by alcoholism. Young Beethoven petitioned the court to give him half of his father's salary to help him care for his younger brothers. Count Ferdinand Waldstein, who assisted Ludwig during this time by financing his travel to Vienna in 1792 to study with Haydn, organized a court ballet performance in 1791, entitled Ritterballett or "Knight's Ballet." To display his gratitude to the count, Beethoven composed the music for the ballet, and let Waldstein take the credit. Though it sounds nothing like Beethoven's more famous works, the music showcases individual orchestral instruments, and celebrates common knightly pursuits, including war, hunting, romance and drinking.
At its premiere on December 6, 1841, Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 4 in D Minor was not particularly well-received by critics or audiences. Because 1841 had been a particularly joyful and prolific year for Schumann, he could afford to postpone publishing the symphony. His very successful first symphony, "Spring," was published the same year, but it was not until the success of his third, the "Rhenish" Symphony in December 1851, that Schumann began revising his fourth symphony. Schumann was inspired to write symphonies after hearing Schubert's "Great C-Major" Symphony. Due to his love for his wife Clara, and her encouraging words, "your imagination and your spirit are too great for the weak piano," Schumann referred to the work as his "Clara" Symphony in private. Schumann's fourth symphony went on to be very successful, and is characterized by its then-revolutionary cyclical form and continuous connections between all four movements.
Juanjo Mena, conductor
Principal guest conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, Juanjo Mena is one of the most distinguished and dynamic conductors of his generation. Relinquishing his post as music director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 1999, Mr. Mena will continue as chief guest conductor at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. Mr. Mena has also served as artistic director of the Jesús Guridi Chamber Orchestra and associate conductor of the Euskadi Symphony Orchestra in Spain.
Born in 1965 in Vitoria, Spain, Mr. Mena has worked with most of the principal symphony and chamber orchestras of his native country. Increasingly in demand to conduct outside of Spain, Mr. Mena has appeared with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Berner Symphonie-Orchester, Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony. Mr. Mena debuted with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the summer of 2004.
Stefan Jackiw, violin
Violinist Stefan Jackiw is recognized as one of the most significant artists of his generation. Mr. Jackiw has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Indianapolis, Nashville, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Seattle and Utah symphonies, the Naples Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Caramoor, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Pops.
In September 2002, Mr. Jackiw made his debut with the Baltimore Symphony under Yuri Temirkanov, followed by a tour of Japan with the orchestra that featured his Tokyo debut at Suntory Hall. In December 2003, he was invited by Maestro Temirkanov to play the Barber Violin Concerto as part of the Winter Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. In July 2007, Mr. Jackiw made his debut with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Ludovic Morlot in the Concerts in the Parks series.
Born to physicist parents in 1985, Mr. Jackiw began playing the violin at the age of 4. His teachers have included Zinaida Gilels, Michèle Auclair, and Donald Weilerstein. Mr. Jackiw holds a bachelor of arts from Harvard University, as well as an artist diploma from the New England Conservatory. In 2002, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Beethoven's Violin Concerto
Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. - Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. - The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. - JMSH
Juanjo Mena, conductor
Stefan Jackiw, violin
Beethoven: Ritterballet Music ‡
Beethoven: Violin Concerto
Schumann: Symphony No. 4
‡ Denotes a BSO premiere
Tickets for these concerts range from $25 to $80, and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444 or 410.783.8000, or www.BSOmusic.org.