Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs Beethoven and Mahler’s Unfinished Tenth Symphonies, Nov. 4
Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke sings Alma Mahler’s Sieben Lieder
Baltimore, Md. (October 12, 2010)—Music Director Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform the unfinished tenth symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven and Gustav Mahler on Thursday, November 4, 2010, at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. These composers are among the most famous of those who did not live to complete their tenth symphony, suggesting there was indeed a “curse of the Ninth Symphony.” The BSO will play the first movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 10 and “Adagio” from Mahler’s Symphony No. 10. The program includes Beethoven’s Lenore Overture No. 3, arranged by Mahler, and Sieben Lieder (Seven Songs), composed by Mahler’s wife Alma, featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke. Please see below for complete concert details.
Though Mahler’s health was failing, he finished a sketch of his Tenth Symphony, including all of its themes, its sequence of events and copious indications about its scoring. He believed he would complete the Symphony in 1911, but died before doing so. After his death, his wife, Alma, inherited the score, only letting a select few prepare it for performance. British musicologist Deryck Cooke completed the full five-movement score, staying faithful to Mahler’s surviving sketches and instructions. His version premiered in 1964 and is still the most often performed. Many conductors, however, believe that only the first movement (“Adagio”) should be played because it is virtually all Mahler’s composition.
Beethoven worked fitfully on his Tenth Symphony for many years before his death in 1827, but always pushed it aside for more “urgent” projects. He left behind sketches for the first movement of the Tenth, and it was unlike any other movement in his previous symphonies: a calm andante, followed by a stormy, combative Allegro in C minor and closing with a return to the serenity of the Andante. Beethoven scholar Barry Cooper assembled these sketches and with his additions, the movement premiered in 1988 by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London.
Gustav Mahler’s wife, Alma, began composing at the age of 9, but after receiving an ultimatum from her then-fiancé to “either stop composing or there will be no marriage,” she chose marriage. Only after another man began courting Alma did Mahler, desperate to restore his marriage, bring some of her scores to a publisher. A commonality shared by most of her Seven Songs is their focus on night themes. All the songs are in Late Romantic style, often with very bold and unconventional harmonies. The award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke will perform the vocal score.
Leonore Overture No. 3 is the most famous overture of the three Beethoven composed for his sole opera, Fidelio. Based on a French drama, Jean Nicolas Bouilly's Leonore, or Conjugal Love, the story was drawn from real incidents during the French Revolution. When arranging the piece for the Vienna Philharmonic in the 1880s, Gustav Mahler was not content to recreate what was on the score page: he increased the instruments from Beethoven’s original requirements, added additional melodic material and used a broader range of dynamics, ranging from a barely audible whisper to a tremendous roar.
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.
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.
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Radiant American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke caused a sensation as Kitty Oppenheimer in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic. The New Yorker praised her “fresh, vital portrayal, bringing a luminous tone, a generously supported musical line, a keen sense of verbal nuance and a flair for seduction.”
The 2010-2011 season brings several notable debuts including the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Edmonton Symphony. She also performs Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with the San Francisco and Seattle symphony orchestras; returns to Carnegie’s Zankel Hall with James MacMillan’s Raising Sparks; and gives recitals at the Kennedy Center, Merkin Concert Hall and the University of Minnesota.
Ms. Cooke held the Lindemann Vocal Chair of Young Concert Artists, where in 2007 she won first prize in their international auditions, as well as the Rhoda Walker Teagle Prize, the Fergus First Prize, the Swiss Global Foundation Award and the Embassy Series Concert Prize. In 2010, she won first place and the American Prize in the 2010 José Iturbi International Music Competition, as well as the Kennedy Center’s Marian Anderson Award.
COMPLETE CONCERT DETAILS
The Unfinished Symphonies
Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Marin Alsop, conductor
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Beethoven (arr. Mahler): Leonore Overture No. 3 ‡
Alma Mahler: Sieben Lieder (Seven Songs) ‡
Beethoven (completed by Cooper): Symphony No. 10, First Movement ‡
Mahler: “Adagio” from Symphony No. 10
‡ Denotes a BSO premiere
Tickets range from $28 to $88 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.