Pianist André Watts Joins Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to Perform Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, June 3–6
Music Director Marin Alsop also leads works by Barber and Bartók
Baltimore, Md. (May 11, 2010) – Music Director Marin Alsop will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a program of works by Barber, Bartók and Beethoven on Thursday, June 3 and Friday, June 4 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 6 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, June 5 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore. Renowned German pianist André Watts will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor.” The program also includes composer Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Béla Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. Please see below for complete concert details.
A frequent guest with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since the 1960s, André Watts returns to play Beethoven’s fifth and final piano concerto. Watts began studying piano at age 6 and appeared with The Philadelphia Orchestra at age 9. When he was 16, he performed with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in a Young People's Concert. Two weeks later after that orchestra’s soloist, Glenn Gould, became ill, Bernstein asked Watts to fill in. After performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, he received a standing ovation from both the audience and orchestral members, thus launching his career. Also a graduate of the Peabody Institute and a former artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland, he is considered to be one of the world’s most in-demand pianists.
Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto is one of the most popular and well-known works in all of classical music. Although the piece received little response after its premiere in 1808, it became an audience favorite upon its return in 1810. German writer and composer E. T. A. Hoffmann described it as “one of the most important works of the time.” The piece even inspired compositions by Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Mahler, and is known as being one of Beethoven’s most innovative works.
Barber’s Adagio for Strings, commonly referred to as America’s national funeral music, is known for its simple and sincere tone. It is one of his most frequently performed works and was played at the funeral services of both Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. This sentimental piece was infamously featured in the Academy Award-winning film Platoon to grieve those lost during the Vietnam War.
Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta was written in only two months to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Basel Chamber Orchestra. After its premiere, audiences were so enthused that they demanded an encore of its riveting final movement. Bartók scholar Halsey Stevens describes the work as “so spontaneous and communicative that only the rare listener is likely to be aware of its complexities.”
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, Barber and Dvorák.
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.
André Watts, piano
André Watts burst upon the music world at the age of 16 when Leonard Bernstein chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in their Young People's Concerts, broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV. Only two weeks later, Bernstein asked him to substitute at the last minute for the ailing Glenn Gould in performances of Liszt's E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, thus launching his career in storybook fashion. More than 45 years later, André Watts remains one of todays most celebrated and beloved superstars.
A perennial favorite with orchestras throughout the U.S., Mr. Watts is also a regular guest at the major summer music festivals including Ravinia, the Hollywood Bowl, Saratoga, Tanglewood and the Mann Music Center. Recent and upcoming orchestral engagements include appearances with the Philadelphia and Minnesota orchestras, New York and Los Angeles philharmonics and the St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Dallas, Seattle and National symphony orchestras. During the 2009-2010 season, he traveled to Japan in July to appear as a featured artist at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo and returned in the fall for an extensive tour of recital and orchestral appearances.
A much-honored artist who has played before royalty in Europe and heads of government in nations all over the world, André Watts was selected to receive the Avery Fisher Prize in 1988. At age 26, he was the youngest person ever to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale University and he has since received numerous honors from highly respected schools including the University of Pennsylvania, Brandeis University, The Juilliard School of Music and his alma mater, the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. In June 2006, he was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl of Fame to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his debut (with The Philadelphia Orchestra).
Previously an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland, Mr. Watts was appointed to the newly created Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music at Indiana University in May 2004.
COMPLETE CONCERT DETAILS
Classical Concert: Barber, Bartók & Beethoven
Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Friday, June 4, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Marin Alsop, conductor
André Watts, piano
Barber: Adagio for Strings
Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”
Tickets for these performances range from $30 to $90 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.