Music Director Marin Alsop Leads Baltimore Symphony in Liszt’s Totentanz, Nov. 19-21
Featuring guest artist, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in two-week residency
Baltimore, Md. (October 2, 2009)—French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet returns to the Baltimore Symphony for the second consecutive week, under the baton of Marin Alsop, at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 19 at The Music Center at Strathmore and on Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The program includes the “Red Cape Tango” from Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony and Berlioz’s ground-breaking Romantic tour-de-force, Symphonie fantastique. After performing three Gershwin classics with the BSO during the previous week, Thibaudet will bring his “virtuosity,” as well as his “clarity and power” (L.A. Times) to the BSO stage again, this time for a performance of Liszt’s Totentanz. Please see below for complete program information.
American composer Michael Daugherty has a knack for writing unique and captivating compositions that pay homage to the academic classical tradition while exploring the heart of American pop culture. His Metropolis Symphony—first performed here in 1994 and dedicated to the BSO and its former music director David Zinman—is a musical response to the myth of Superman. Daugherty describes the bravura finale “Red Cape Tango” as a “musical bullfight” between Superman and Doomsday. The Medieval Latin death chant Dies Irae, featured in the finale, is a recurring theme for the concert as it also appears in both Liszt’s Totentanz and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.
Totentanz (Dance of Death) is a piece that is famous for its tempestuous Romanticism and technical difficulty. Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Liszt is considered to be one of the most virtuosic pianists of all time, and there is no question that the skill that he had as a performing musician influenced his compositional imagination and prowess. Though Liszt began his sketches for Totentanz in the 1830s and completed the piece in 1849, it did not premiere until 1865. Like his other works, Totentanz is an expressive and evocative display of nineteenth-century Romanticism.
Symphonie fantastique, written by the French composer Hector Berlioz, could be said to be an archetype of the Romantic spirit. Written in part based on his own infatuation with the English actress Harriet Smithson, Symphonie fantastique is subtitled “Episode in the Life of an Artist,” which makes explicit the autobiographical nature of its content. The music explores passion, obsession and the macabre, including a demonic Sabbath in the fifth movement. An idée fixe links all five movements, conjuring up the image of the main character’s beloved.
Marin Alsop, conductor
Hailed as one of the world’s leading conductors for her artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra. She also holds the title of conductor emeritus at the Bournemouth Symphony in the United Kingdom, where she served as the principal conductor from 2002-2008, and is music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California
In 2005, Ms. Alsop was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this prestigious award. In 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award, in 2008 she was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2009 Musical America named her “Conductor of the Year.”
A regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ms. Alsop appears frequently as a guest conductor with the most distinguished orchestras around the world. In addition to her performance activities, she is also an active recording artist with award-winning cycles of Brahms and Barber orchestral works. She is currently recording the Dvorák symphonies with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she won the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at Tanglewood where she studied with Leonard Bernstein.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet continues to enthrall audiences worldwide with his profound and poetic artistry, enlightened interpretations and thrilling performances. Mr. Thibaudet’s 2009-2010 season is highlighted by an Australian tour with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as European and North American tours with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. Additional appearances abroad this season are with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Berner Symphonie-Orchester, Museumorchester Frankfurt, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Norddeutscher Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester, Castilla y Leon Symphony Orchestra, Gelders Orchestra and Sinfonieorchester des Westdeutschen Rundfunks. Mr. Thibaudet’s performances in the U.S. include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Nashville. A vivid recitalist, Mr. Thibaudet performs at Carnegie Hall on December 15, 2009, as well as in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Seattle, Washington. In May 2010, Mr. Thibaudet embarks on a U.S. tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and new Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, bringing Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety to San Francisco, Nashville, Washington, New York and Newark.
Mr. Thibaudet is an exclusive recording artist for Decca, which has released over 40 of his albums, earning the Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d’Or, Choc de la Musique, a Gramophone Award, two Echo awards and the Edison Prize. Thibaudet was the soloist on the Oscar and Golden Globe-award winning soundtrack of Universal Pictures’ Atonement and the Oscar-nominated Pride and Prejudice.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet was born in Lyon, France, where he began his piano studies at age 5 and made his first public appearance at age 7. At 12, he entered the Paris Conservatory to study with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Ravel. At age 15, he won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire and three years later, won the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City. In 2001, the Republic of France awarded him the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2002, he was awarded the Premio Pegasus from the Spoleto Festival in Italy for his artistic achievements and his long-standing involvement with the festival. In 2007, he was awarded the Victoire d’Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France’s Victoires de la Musique.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Classical Series: Demons, Drama and Dance
Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – The Music Center at Strathmore*
Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – JMSH
Marin Alsop, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Michael Daugherty: “Red Cape Tango” from Metropolis Symphony
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
* Music Notes LIVE! is a free pre-concert lecture at the Music Center at Strathmore, hosted by WETA's David Ginder. The program begins at 7:00 p.m. and is free to ticket holders.
Tickets for these concerts range from $25 to $80 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.