Concerts of Thursday, May 30, 2024 at 8:00 PM
Saturday, June 1, 2024 at 8:00 PM

Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra in B-flat
major, Op. 83 (1881) 50 MINS
I. Allegro non troppo
II. Allegro appassionato
III. Andante
IV. Allegretto grazioso
Daniil Trifonov, piano
JOHN DOWLAND (c.1563-1626)
Lachrimae antiquae (1604) 4 MINS
Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61 (1847) 39 MINS
non troppo
II. Scherzo: Allegro vivace. Trio 1. Trio 2. Coda
III. Adagio espressivo
IV. Allegro molto vivace
Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra in B-flat major,
Op. 83 (1881)

Johannes Brahms was known for big-hearted generosity and breathtaking sarcasm. When he finished the Piano Concerto No. 2 in July 1881, Brahms wrote to his friend Elisabet von Herzogenberg that he’d written “a tiny, tiny piano concerto with a tiny, tiny wisp of a scherzo.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. At fifty minutes, the “Brahms Second” is a behemoth. To this day, pianists count it among the most difficult. And Brahms’s “wisp of a scherzo” is thick and stormy (“scherzo” typically indicates playful).

Yet, for all its pianistic challenges, this concerto exudes radiance. Covering a range of characters and moods—from vigorous, Romani-style acrobatics to lush Romantic melodies to a sweet lullaby for solo cello—the sunniness prevails. All the passions, joys, and affections Brahms withheld from friends seem to pour forth from this concerto.

The music came to him in 1878 while on vacation in Italy. By then, he had money; he was self-assured and an international celebrity. He continued to make sketches over summer holidays in picture-postcard locales and then did the real work of composition during the summer of 1881. Perhaps he experienced a sense of arrival because his thoughts turned to the past. As a 12-year-old, Brahms helped support his family by playing the piano in seedy bars. Working in deplorable conditions, he grew as a musician, thanks to the nurture of his piano and composition teacher, Eduard Marxsen, who refused to accept payment from young “Hannes.”

Decades later, the paunchy, middle-aged Brahms extended his gratitude through the Second Concerto, “dedicated to his dear friend and teacher Eduard Marxsen.”are bawdy, while others are tender. He gained an international reputation; across Europe, printers issued collections of his songs for local musicians to play.

Despite his popularity, Dowland never achieved his life’s ambition: to serve in the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Given the ravages of the Protestant Reformation, he suspected the Queen resented his conversion to Catholicism. Whatever the reason for the rejection, his relationship with the English court remained a thorn in his side and was central to his landmark

composition “Lachrimae,” or Seven Tears. During the 1590s, his lute piece “Lachrimae Pavan” made its way around Great Britain (lachrimae is Latin for tears; a pavan is a slow, stately dance). In 1600, he added words, calling the song “Flow My Tears,” with the last stanza digging into the melancholy:

Hark! you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world’s despite.

In other words, he suggested people in Hell were happier than he. In 1604, the year after Elizabeth died, Dowland lifted this famous song to create a piece for a five-part ensemble. His “Lachrimae”, or Seven Tears, is dedicated to Anne of Denmark, wife of England’s King James I (Elizabeth’s successor). In 1612, Dowland won a position in the court of James I and served there until he died in 1626.

Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61 (1847)

Through the 1840s, Robert and Clara Schumann were one of Europe’s power couples. He was an influential music critic; she was a famous pianist. They married and had eight children. Robert wanted to write music while his wife tended the kids. Clara wanted a career.

At Clara’s suggestion, he traveled to Vienna in 1838 to explore the possibility of settling there. He didn’t like the city, but he did make a remarkable discovery while visiting the brother of a musical hero.

Franz Schubert had been dead for ten years when Schumann knocked on the door of Ferdinand Schubert. They chatted about the late composer. Ferdinand showed him around, and Schumann left carrying the manuscript of an unpublished masterpiece:

Schubert’s “Great” C Major Symphony. Schumann delivered the piece into the hands of conductor Felix Mendelssohn and saw to its first performance and publication.

Schumann married Clara in 1840. And then, over four days, he drafted his First Symphony (1841). Mendelssohn conducted a successful premiere, and the publisher added it to their catalog. It seemed that Schumann had finally arrived as a composer until the publisher declined his next symphony, the B-flat Major Symphony (now known as Symphony No. 4). Suffering the rejection, Schumann tucked the piece away and continued to split his time between composition and journalism.

In 1844, he and Clara toured Russia, where she basked in glory while the public ignored her composer husband. Shortly after their return, Robert suffered another breakdown. In 1845, he wrote to Mendelssohn, “Every disruption of my simple, orderly life destroys my composure, and I feel sick and irritable.” On doctor’s orders, the family moved from Leipzig to the quieter, more conservative town of Dresden, where Schumann sketched his C Major Symphony.

“I wrote the C Major Symphony in December 1845 while I was still half sick, and it seems to me that one can hear this in the music,” he wrote. “Although I began to feel like myself while working on the last movement, I recovered totally only after completing the entire piece.”

According to biographer John Daverio, Schumann emulated Schubert’s “Great” C Major Symphony in his own Symphony in C, “especially in the magnificent valedictory hymn that crowns the finale.” The piece also owes a debt to J.S. Bach, as Schumann applied intensive studies of the Well-Tempered Clavier to his integrated handling of melodic material.

Felix Mendelssohn conducted the first performance of Schumann’s C Major Symphony at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig on November 5, 1846. The audience reacted lukewarmly but was more enthusiastic at the second performance. Friedrich Whistling of Leipzig published the piece as Symphony No. 2 in 1847, forever mixing up the chronology of Schumann’s symphonies. Schumann wrote his next symphony in 1850. He issued the revised B-flat Major Symphony (now known as Symphony No. 4) in 1853.


Grammy-winning pianist Daniil Trifonov is a solo artist, concerto champion, chamber collaborator and composer. Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of wonder.

In the 2023-24 season, Trifonov performs Mason Bates’s Concerto, a work composed for him, with the Chicago Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; returns to the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and Israel Philharmonic; and tours the U.S. and Europe with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra, respectively. In recital, he tours Europe with cellist Gautier Capuçon and embarks on a high-profile transatlantic tour with a new solo program of Rameau, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Beethoven.

Trifonov won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo Album of 2018 with the Liszt collection Transcendental. His discography also includes the Grammy-nominated live recording of his Carnegie recital debut; Chopin Evocations; Silver Age, for which he received

Opus Klassik’s Instrumentalist of the Year/Piano award; the bestselling, Grammy-nominated double album Bach: The Art of Life; and three volumes of Rachmaninoff with the Philadelphia Orchestra, two of which received Grammy nominations and the third won BBC

Music’s 2019 Concerto Recording of the Year. Named Gramophone’s 2016 Artist of the Year and Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year, Trifonov was made a “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French government in 2021. During the 2010-11 season, he won Third Prize in Warsaw’s Chopin Competition, First Prize in Tel Aviv’s Rubinstein Competition, and both First Prize and Grand Prix in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition. He studied with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Concerts of Thursday, June 6, 2024 at 8:00 PM
Friday, June 7, 2024 at 8:00 PM
Saturday, June 8, 2024 at 8:00 PM


Sinfonia concertante for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, and Orchestra in E-flat major,
K. 297b [Anh.9] (1778)       32 MINS

  1. Adagio
  2. Andantino con variationi Elizabeth Tiscione, oboe Jesse McCandless, clarinet Ryan Little, horn

Anthony Georgeson, bassoon

RICHARD WAGNER (1813-1883) / ARR. LORIN MAAZEL (1930-2014)
Der Ring ohne Worte (The Ring Without Words) (1987)           70 MINS
Sinfonia concertante for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, and Orchestra in E-flat major, K. 297b [Anh.9]

The Sinfonia Concertante for Winds sounds a lot like Mozart. It radiates charm. It’s a well-written piece and is an enigma. We don’t actually know who composed it.

In 1777, Leopold Mozart sent his son, Wolfgang, on a job- hunting tour of Germany and Paris. Young Mozart dug deep into his contacts, knocking on doors and enquiring about leadership positions with court orchestras. After six months, he had only managed to land a scattering of one-off projects. His father was getting impatient.

In the spring of 1778, Wolfgang wrote from Paris that he’d composed a Sinfonia Concertante for Winds to be played by four friends from Mannheim (flute, oboe, bassoon, and horn). Ostensibly, Mozart handed the piece over to a copyist. Instead, the trail goes cold. The performance never and Mozart left Paris without the score. From this inform cannot verify whether he wrote it.

The work on tonight’s concert turned up a century late in a private collection owned by the Mozart biographer Many Mozart enthusiasts have tried to connect it to the mi composition, but the handwriting in the Berlin edition does match Mozart’s handwriting. Adding to the mystery, t instrumentation is different: the Berlin piece features ob clarinet, bassoon, and horn—these are not interchangea with flute, oboe, bassoon, and horn. Nevertheless, the clari writing shows the hand of a skillful composer. It could Mozart. The orchestral writing is a different matter; m scholars agree it was written by someone else.

In the end, we have an engaging concert piece that gives a s turn to some of the orchestra’s principal players. The music continues to be popular. But its origins keep us guessing.

Der Ring ohne Worte (The Ring without Words)

It started with an image: the funeral of a fallen hero. That’s all it was. However, the image acted on Richard Wagner like a tug on a piece of yarn. He started working backward, imagining the hero’s deeds, his adolescence, his parents, and their parents. Wagner imagined mythic beings that populated the hero’s world, and he infused them with human qualities to probe the psychology of love, greed, and power. He gave them music to make us feel what they feel and see what they see.

Wagner’s odyssey through The Ring spanned more than twenty years. Through it, he delivered a mega-opera in four parts and a custom-built opera house—all to bring us into the gravity of that epic funeral. The Ring of the Nibelung is one of the most analyzed, talked about, revered, reviled, and wondrous experiences ever set to music. Before the advent of supertitles, its fifteen-hour duration cast fear into hearts—but no more. Wagner’s Ring is the original binge-watch, supremely entertaining with a horde of mythic rivalries driven by characters who’ve been assigned their own music or “leitmotif.” Once you know these signature tunes, you can drop the needle anywhere in the four operas and know precisely where you are in the story.

Wagner based his Ring on Norse and German mythology with a nod to Greek tragedy. Conductor Lorin Maazel stitched together The Ring without Words in 1990. According to the publisher, there isn’t a bar of Maazel’s compilation that doesn’t come from Wagner himself.

Das Rheingold

Wagner begins The Ring as if cracking a door on an ancient world. He projects an exquisite sense of calm and equilibrium as we find ourselves beneath the undulating waters of the Rhine. Enter Alberich, a Nibelung (member of a race of dwarves) who spies the lovely Rhinemaidens.

He approaches them as they frolic around the Rhinegold. Alberich tries to make love to them, but they taunt and mock him mercilessly. Eventually, he gives up and steals their gold. To harness its magic, he foreswears love and forges a ring of power. Meanwhile, the gods wake to their new castle, Valhalla, built by two giants. To pay them for their work, Wotan, the king of the gods, steals Alberich’s gold. As Wotan feels the power-surge coming from the ring, Alberich curses it. The giants collect their payment—including the ring—and immediately, one murders the other, foreshadowing Wotan’s end.

Die Walküre

Between the first and second operas, Wotan fathers eleven children: the twin mortals, Siegmund and Sieglinde, and the nine Valkyries (warrior maidens who escort fallen heroes to Valhalla). In Act I, Sieglinde’s brute husband vows to kill Siegmund, at which point the twins decide incest is best and consummate their union. This puts Wotan at odds with his wife, Fricka, the goddess of marriage. She reminds him of the inviolability of the Law and manipulates him into siding against his son. Brokenhearted, Wotan sends his beloved Valkyrie daughter Brünnhilde to bring Siegmund into the afterlife at Valhalla.

She disobeys her father and makes a rescue attempt—what Wotan most desires but cannot permit. Wotan sees to Siegmund’s demise and banishes Brünnhilde, leading to a wrenching mountaintop farewell. He places her in a deep sleep and surrounds her with a magical ring of fire. Now, she’s mortal and doomed to marry any man who rescues her—though only the most courageous will brave the fire.


We meet that courageous man and his leaping horn-call in the third opera, Siegfried. He’s the son of Siegmund and Sieglinde and has been raised in the wilderness by Alberich’s odious brother, Mime. Young Siegfried is brash, impetuous, ignorant, and more powerful than any mortal, man or beast. He re-forges Siegmund’s broken sword, slays the dragon guarding the Rhinegold, and kills Mime. Siegfried seizes the ring and the Tarnhelm (a magic helmet). A songbird leads him to Brünnhilde, the first woman he’s ever seen. “This is no man,” he observes. For the first time in his life, he experiences fear.

Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)

Siegfried and Brünnhilde live as man and wife. Soon, he sets sail to seek his destiny. King Gunther awaits Siegfried’s arrival with his half brother Hagen (son of Alberich). They slip the gullible hero a memory-blocking potion and promise him the hand of Gunther’s sister. Under their influence, Siegfried dons the magic Tarnhelm to disguise himself as Gunther and retrieves Brünnhilde from the flames on the mountain. Now, she’s forced to marry Gunther while her faithless Siegfried marries the sister. Hagen plots with her to kill Siegfried, stabbing him in the back. In his dying breath, Siegfried remembers Brünnhilde. Siegfried’s flaming funeral pyre drifts into the Rhine (and, yes, he’s wearing the ring). Brünnhilde rides her horse onto the the pyre. Valhalla goes up in flames, and the Rhine swallows them all.


Principal Oboe Elizabeth Koch Tiscione joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) at the beginning of the 2007-2008 season. She currently holds the George M. and Corrie Hoyt Brown Chair. In addition to her responsibilities with the ASO, Tiscione plays Principal Oboe at the Grand Teton Music Festival and is a member of the Atlanta Chamber Players. She has performed as a guest musician with the orchestras of Philadelphia, St. Louis, St. Paul, Baltimore, Rochester, Buffalo, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Recent solo engagements include the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, and Dekalb Symphony Orchestra. She has been featured on NPR’s “From the Top,” and has also performed at many chamber music festivals throughout the country, including Tannery Pond, Cape Cod, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Tiscione has a love for teaching and is currently a faculty member at Kennesaw State University. She also teaches internationally at Festicamara, in Medellin, Colombia, and has a studio in Atlanta. A native of Hamburg, NY, Tiscione began the oboe in the NY State public school system at age nine. She continued her studies at the Interlochen Arts Academy under Daniel Stolper and studied with Richard Woodhams at the Curtis Institute of Music. Other teachers include Mark DuBois, J. Bud Roach, Pierre Roy, Robert Walters, and Eugene Izatov.


Jesse McCandless is the newly appointed Principal Clarinetist of the Atlanta Symphony. An ardent orchestral and chamber musician, Mr. McCandless has appeared in performances with the Jacksonville Symphony, New Haven Symphony, and the Florida Orchestra. During his stint with the New World Symphony, he had the privilege of serving under the batons of such artists as Michael Tilson Thomas, Stéphane Deneve, Peter Oundjian, and John Williams. Mr. McCandless has collaborated with the Amernet String Quartet and Eighth Blackbird, and has attended the Aspen Music Festival, Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Norfolk Chamber Music festival, and the Kent-Blossom Chamber Music Festival. Mr. McCandless received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and his Master’s degree from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Richard Hawkins and David Shifrin, respectively. Other primary influences include Michael Rusinek of the Pittsburgh Symphony and Michael Wayne of the Eastman School of Music.

RYAN LITTLE, french horn

Ryan Little joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as Principal Horn during the 2022-2023 season. Prior to his arrival at the ASO, he served as Principal Horn of the Naples Philharmonic for six years. Ryan received his B.M. from the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music where he studied with Gail Williams and Jonathan Boen and received his M.M. from the Rice University Shepherd School of Music where he studied with William VerMeulen. In addition to his responsibilities with the ASO, Ryan plays Principal Horn at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina. Ryan has performed as Guest Principal Horn with the orchestras of Cincinnati, Frankfurt Radio, Minnesota, Orlando, Sarasota, Vancouver, and WDR Cologne, and has also performed with the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, New World Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Utah Symphony. As a concert soloist, he has performed with the Naples Philharmonic, Northwestern University Baroque and Symphonic Wind Ensembles, l’Orchestre de la Francophonie, and the Skokie Valley Symphony. During the summers Ryan has performed at the Britt Music & Arts Festival, Grant Park Music Festival, Lakes Area Music Festival, and Sun Valley Music Festival. He also been a fellow in the Castleton Festival, Lucerne Festival Academy, National Orchestral Institute, Spoleto Festival USA, Tanglewood Music Center, Verbier Festival, and YOA Orchestra of the Americas. Ryan performs on instruments made by Karl Hill of Rockford, Michigan.


Anthony Georgeson joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as Associate Principal Bassoon in the fall of 2017 and currently holds the position of Acting Principal Bassoon. Prior to that, he was Principal Bassoon of the Florida Orchestra (2007–2017), a member of the New World Symphony and acting Principal Bassoon of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. He has also performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Sarasota Orchestra, Classical Tahoe, Mainly Mozart Music Festival, Strings Music Festival, and both as guest assistant principal and second bassoonist with The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, Carnegie Hall, Blossom Music Festival, and throughout Europe. As part of The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2014 Brahms Cycle recording project he, as guest second bassoonist, recorded Brahms’s Symphonies 1-3 to DVD/BluRay from the BBC Proms and the Musikverein in Vienna.

Georgeson earned his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, studying with Whitney Crockett, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison as a student of Kenneth Moses. He began studying the bassoon with Cynthia Cameron-Fix, has had further studies with John Clouser in performance and reed-making, and counts Bernard Garfield as a strong musical influence. Mr. Georgeson plays on pre-war Heckel Bassoon #7507 made in Biebrich (Wiesbaden), Germany in 1934. Georgeson made his solo debut at the age of 17 performing Weber’s Bassoon Concerto with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and has been a soloist with The Florida Orchestra, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the UW Symphony Orchestra, and the Concord Chamber Orchestra performing the bassoon concerti of Mozart, Zwilich, and Weber. With a strong family background and commitment to education, he also maintains a private teaching studio and is on faculty as Artist Affiliate in Bassoon at Emory University.

Concerts of Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 8:00 PM
Saturday, June 15, 2024 at 8:00 PM
Sunday, June 16, 2024 at 3:00 PM



Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61 (1806) 56 MINS
Cadenzas by Jörg Widmann (b. 1973) (US Premiere)

I. Allegro ma non troppo
Ia. Cadenza
II. Larghetto
IIa. Cadenza
III. Rondo: Allegro
IIIa. Cadenza

Veronica Eberle, violin
Widmann cadenza soloists
David Coucheron, violin
Joe McFadden, double bass
Michael Stubbart, timpani

MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937)
Menuet antique (1929) 6 MINS
Alborada del gracioso (1918) 8 MINS
L’oiseau de feu Suite (The Firebird) 37 MINS
[1919 version]
Introduction —
Dance of the Firebird —
Variation of the Firebird
Round Dance of the Princesses
Infernal Dance of King Kastchei
Berceuse —

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61

“Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me.” In 1802, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote a letter to his brothers. He was having a crisis and even having thoughts of suicide. Despite his progressive hearing loss, Beethoven chose to live, and the music in his head gave him purpose.

He never sent that letter but always kept it with him. Now called the Heiligenstadt Testament, this document pinpoints the onset of hearing impairment to 1796. It also gives us a window into Beethoven’s personality. He was a hothead but hated the grief and isolation that came with it. Beethoven wrote the Violin Concerto in 1806, at the height of his career as a hearing musician. He was a star pianist. He launched an opera and was at the vanguard of symphonic music. 1806 gave us some of his most enduring works: the Fourth Symphony, the Fourth Piano Concerto, and the Violin Concerto. He also wrote his Razumovsky Quartets and worked on his Fifth Symphony. Music poured out of him—bold, daring, and optimistic works.

In both the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Violin Concerto, he achieved a kind of transcendent grace and ebullience—feelings that couldn’t be further from his mortal existence. In 1806, he suffered chronic illness and hearing loss. He had blowups with family and friends; he fell out with his theater director and severed ties with a benefactor, costing him his annual stipend.

Beethoven wrote the Violin Concerto for a friend named Franz Clement, a one-time child prodigy. Clement had an uncanny musical memory, reproducing full scores after only one or two hearings. It was an impressive party trick and a good thing, in this instance, because Beethoven labored over his concerto up to the last minute. Clement practically sightread the world premiere. On the same concert, he included a stunt in which he played the violin upside down. After that, the Beethoven Violin Concerto passed into near oblivion. Decades later, Felix Mendelssohn resurrected the piece with the violin prodigy Joseph Joachim.


When Beethoven wrote his concerto, improvisation was a standard technique for musicians. Out of that came the tradition of performing cadenzas during concertos (much like guitar solos in today’s rock songs). Over the years, improvised cadenzas fell by the wayside, but many violinist/composers wrote and published cadenzas for this piece. In that tradition, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra soloist Veronika Eberle commissioned cadenzas by German composer Jörg Widmann. Eberle told The Strad magazine, “Basically [Jörg] has taken all the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic material from the concerto and transposed it to the present day,” offering a contemporary take on a 19th-century masterpiece.

Maurice Ravel was born ten miles from the Spanish border in a house overlooking Saint-Jean-de-Luz harbor. With the Pyrenees rising in the distance, his birthplace lies in the heart of Basque Country, a region inhabited by a distinct ethnic group straddling France and Spain. His mother, Marie, grew up there and often visited her cousins in Spain. During one of those visits, she met a Swiss inventor and engineer named Joseph Ravel.

They moved to Montmartre in Paris shortly after baby Maurice arrived. During the summer, they returned to the seaside village. As a family, they shared many happy hours around Joseph’s piano. Marie sang Spanish folk songs. And soon, Maurice and his little brother joined the ensemble. Their father also liked to take the boys to factories to see the latest wonders in mechanical engineering. (Years later, Ravel’s friend Igor Stravinsky called him the “Swiss clockmaker of composers.”)

1889 was a memorable year. The Ravel family lived in the colorful neighborhood of Pigalle, a place not quite wholesome but legendary for its artists, writers, and philosophers. The Moulin Rouge opened its doors just around the corner, and Toulouse-Lautrec began painting prostitutes (Pigalle was home to a famous red-light district). Beyond the neighborhood, the Paris Exposition featured the opening of the Eiffel Tower and offered a wondrous display of technology and cultures from around the world. In that saucy and heady atmosphere, fourteen-year-old Maurice and his friend Ricardo Vines made a sport of people-watching. In the fall, they entered the Paris Conservatoire. Vines proved to be a brilliant pianist, while Ravel neglected to practice. Over time, Ravel gravitated toward composition and settled in at the school for an unusually long stay, finally leaving in 1903. All the while, he clashed with the stalwarts at the conservatory; they saw him as an upstart and a radical. He and Vines fell into a group of young creatives who hosted salons and haunted the late-night cafes.

One night, an old curmudgeon reportedly called them “Apaches” (pron. ah-POSH), a word associated with Paris street thugs. Ravel and his friends laughed and started calling themselves “Les Apaches.” Ravel wrote the piano pieces Miroirs between 1904 and 1905, dedicating each one to a member of Les Apaches. Alborada del gracioso comes from this set.

Menuet antique (1929)

The Menuet antique came from 1895 while Ravel was still a student. The title presents a paradox: a menuet is a 17th-century dance with a predictable meter and form; “antique” suggests the ancient world. Biographer and friend Alexis Roland-Mauel called it a “conflict between order and adventure.” Ravel dedicated the Menuet antique to his childhood friend, the Spanish pianist Ricardo Vines, who played the first performance of both these piano works. With the Menuet, twenty-year-old Ravel became a published composer. He orchestrated it in 1929.

Alborada del gracioso (1918)

The title leaves us guessing: An alborada is a morning song that might greet the day or signal young lovers that it’s time to part. A gracioso is a buffoon or jester. Rhythmically, the piece echoes Spanish dance. In 1918, Ravel added his dazzling orchestration to the piece for the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

L’oiseau de feu Suite (The Firebird)

On the eve of its premiere, the composer of The Firebird was a no-name, a 28-year-old stranger in thecultural capital of the world. In a few days, the skinny,bespectacled Russian would be the toast of Paris.Ironically, Igor Stravinsky, the composer who madethe cover of Time magazine and the Hollywood Walkof Fame, hadn’t even been the first choice for the job.

In 1909, things Russian were all the rage in Paris, owing in large part to the ambitions of Sergei Diaghilev. Fleeing the 1905 Russian Revolution, Diaghilev made it his mission to promote and profit from Russian culture in the French capital, presenting concerts, operas, and an art exhibition. Having that multidisciplinary experience would prove invaluable when he hit upon his greatest achievement: the Ballets Russes. Using scores by composers such as Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, Diaghilev engaged the finest choreographers, artists and dancers to dazzle the French. Paintings by his set and costume designer Leon Bakst began appearing in Paris galleries, and actresses solicited Bakst dress designs. Conspicuously, there was one facet of Diaghilev’s productions that had underwhelmed the French avant-garde: the music—none of it had been original. Diaghilev made up his mind to change that.

For the coming season, he envisioned a new ballet called The Firebird, using a scenario drawn from various Russian fairy tales.He hired the Russian composer Nikolai Tcherepnin, but the deal fellapart. He then turned to Lyadov, Glazunov and Sokolov—all declinedthe project. Six months before rehearsals, the impresario offered thejob to Stravinsky, who later wrote, “I remember the day Diaghilevtelephoned me to say go ahead, and my telling him I already had.”

Although this would be his first large-scale work, Stravinsky was no stranger to the theater. The son of the famous bass, Fyodor Stravinsky, the opera house had been his playground. To his dismay, his parents insisted he study law instead of music. And yet it was his father’s stature that afforded him access to one of the most influential Russian composers of his time: Nicolai Rimsky- Korsakov. Stravinsky asked the older composer for advice about his compositions, and when his father died in 1902, became a “Rimsky” disciple.

By the time Stravinsky landed The Firebird commission in 1909, Rimsky-Korsakov had been dead for a year. Already, the younger composer was taking strides into modernism, but he set those inclinations aside to write this Russian fairy tale. “Russian legends have as heroes characters that are simple, naive, sometimes even frankly stupid, devoid of all malice,” wrote Stravinsky. “And it is they who are always victorious over characters that are clever, artful, complex, cruel and powerful.” He goes on to say that Ivan defeats Kashchei “because he yielded to pity, a wholly Christian notion, which dominates the imagination and the ideas of the Russian people.”

Following his teacher’s lead, Stravinsky tapped into Russian nationalism. One of the most prominent tunes in the ballet, the “Round Dance of the Princesses,” is taken from Rimsky-Korsakov’s compilation, 100 Russian Folk Songs. It follows that Stravinsky used folk songs to contrast his human characters with the chromatic music of his supernatural characters. Stravinsky’s opulent orchestration leans heavily upon the inflience of Rimsky-Korsakov.

After rocketing to stardom, Igor Stravinsky first split his time between Russia and the West. With the outbreak of WWI, he settled his family in Switzerland. When that conflict spilled into the Russian Revolution of 1917, their exile became permanent. Years later, Stravinsky described the creation of the piece that closed one chapter of his life and launched another: “Early in November, I moved from Saint Petersburg to a dacha belonging to the Rimsky-Korsakov family about seventy miles southeast of the city. I went there for a vacation, a rest in birch forests and snow-fresh air, but instead began to work on The Firebird. Andrei Rimsky-Korsakov (son of the composer) was with me at the time, and he often was during the following months; because of this, The Firebird is dedicated to him.”


Veronika Eberle’s exceptional talent and the poise and maturity of her musicianship have been recognized by many of the world’s finest orchestras, venues and festivals, as well as by some of the most eminent conductors. Sir Simon Rattle’s introduction of Veronika, aged just 16, to a packed Salzburg Festpielhaus at the 2006 Salzburg Easter Festival in a performance of the Beethoven concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker, brought her to international attention. Key orchestra collaborations since then include the London Symphony, Concertgebouw, New York Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Munich Philharmonic and Gewandhaus Orchestras, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Hessischer Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester, Bamberger Symphoniker, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, NHK Symphony, and Rotterdam Philharmonic. Born in Donauwörth, Southern Germany, she started violin lessons at the age of six and four years later became a junior student at the Richard Strauss Konservatorium in Munich with Olga Voitova. After studying privately with Christoph Poppen for a year, she joined the Hochschule in Munich, where she studied with Ana Chumachenco 2001-2012. Veronika Eberle plays on a violin made by the Italian violin maker Antonio Giacomo Stradivari in 1693, which was made available to her on generous loan by the Reinhold Würth Musikstiftung gGmbH.