Magnificent Seven

Masterworks 7

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March 31, 2017

Friday | 8:00 pm | Neel PAC
Tickets from $33 | Seat Layout

April 1, 2017

Saturday | 8:00 pm | Van Wezel
Tickets from $33 | Seat Layout

April 2, 2017

Sunday | 2:30 pm | Van Wezel
Tickets from $33 | Seat Layout


Enjoy Beethoven's joyous Symphony No. 7, used for the movie The King's Speech, and Rossini's William Tell Overture, also known as the theme for the Lone Ranger. The concert features Mendelssohn's audacious Piano Concerto No. 1, the perfect vehicle to showcase the brilliance of French pianist Bertrand Chamayou.


Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792 - 1868)

Between 1810 and 1829 Gioachino Rossini wrote an astonishing 38 operas. Then, at age 37, he quit. For the rest of his long life he concentrated on his avocation as a gourmet cook and grew appropriately in bulk. He composed only sporadically and, except for church music, these were mostly small works he tossed off for the entertainment of his friends. He published over 150 musical miniatures in a collection that he called Péchés de vieillesse (Sins of old age).

Rossini's final opera, Guillaume Tell, based on a play by Schiller, was written in 1829 for the Académie Royale de Musique with the intent to conquer the Paris opera scene. Rossini had received a ten-year contract to produce operas in Paris, composed specifically for a French audience – as opposed to his previous productions that were merely translations of Italian operas written for Naples. Unfortunately, the revolution of 1830 overthrew France's King Charles X, and Rossini was forced to cool his heels for six years awaiting a libretto for his next opera. Guillaume Tell had already forced him to revamp his style considerably to conform to French taste, and new composers were assuming the Parisian limelight while he was stalled. The opera premiered in 1829, but Rossini immediately tinkered with it in rehearsal and subsequently shortened it. Since he had acquired considerable wealth from his Italian operas, the effort required to "keep up with the Joneses" may simply have not been worth it.

The Overture – the end of which became the signature theme for The Lone Ranger, one of radio's longest running shows – is different from any other that Rossini wrote. It is programmatic, suggested by the alpine setting and the finale of the opera (although not using the same music):

the alpine sunrise, for five solo celli;

the storm; the clearing skies;

and the shepherd's song of thanks, for English horn (all with a strong, and probably non-coincidental, relationship to Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony);

the trumpet call to arms; and the rush of the soldiers. Many later nineteenth-century opera composers adopted this type of overture, notably Verdi in Nabucco and La forza del destino, and Wagner in The Flying Dutchman and Die Meistersinger.

Program notes are written by Joseph and Elizabeth Kahn.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 -1847)

Scion of a great banking family, Felix Mendelssohn had no need for the revenue from publishing his compositions, and published only what he considered "worthy." In fact, all of his works from opus 73 onward – including the Italian and Reformation symphonies, were published posthumously. Quite a contrast with his older contemporary, Beethoven, who spent considerable energy wheeling, dealing and even double-dealing to wring every extra Thaler out of prospective publishers. And then, of course there was the impecunious Mozart.

In June 1830, on his way to Italy, Mendelssohn stopped in Munich, where he met one of the local beauties, the seventeen-year-old gifted pianist Delphine von Schauroth. A romance developed, urged on by Bavaria's king Ludwig I, but Mendelssohn was annoyed because at 22 he had no intention of settling down. While in Italy he sketched out the Piano Concerto in G minor, finishing it in Munich the following year on his return trip. He dedicated it to Delphine and premiered it immediately at a benefit concert for Munich's poor. He delighted in the superb playing of the orchestra and in the enthusiastic reception of the new concerto. Its popularity spread quickly through the championship of virtuoso pianist Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann's wife, and Franz Liszt.

The first movement is characterized by quintessential Romantic storminess. In an unusual move for a concerto's first movement, the soloist crashes in with a musical tantrum, replete with flamboyantly rapid flourishes and arpeggios.

The orchestra and piano responding with an equally angry first theme.

Even the obligatory contrasting second theme alternates between lyrical, optimistic melody and passages in darker harmonies.

The second movement is a gentle melody harking back to the style of Beethoven.

In rather flexible structure it suggests a reverie, including troubling memories.

The orchestral introduction of the Finale hints at more storm clouds to come,

but the piano finally enters in a mood of uninterrupted celebration,

with the following runs and flourishes taking on a sense of joy and playfulness.

The overall effect of the Concerto is of a tense drama bordering on tragedy, finally triumphantly resolved by means of a tender intervention. Mendelssohn often created a dramatic narrative within the context of "absolute" music.

Mendelssohn was a phenomenal pianist, as attested by none other than composer, music critic and acerbic commentator Héctor Berlioz who wrote of him: "His performing talent is as great as his musical genius, which is really saying a great deal." Berlioz, incidentally, attached a program to all of his works.

As a mature artist, Mendelssohn was acclaimed throughout Europe as pianist, composer and conductor, especially in his native Germany and England. His untimely death from unknown causes created a profound shock, and Mendelssohn societies quickly sprang up.

Program notes are written by Joseph and Elizabeth Kahn.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 -1827)

There is little information about Beethoven's activities during 1812, the year of the composition of the Seventh Symphony. He was in poor health and while he produced little else that year, the Symphony makes up for in quality what was lacking in quantity. The year itself was momentous; the Russian winter had finally halted Napoleon in his eastward march of conquest, a fact that must have lightened Beethoven's heart. Napoleon had been the composer's hero, the intended dedicatee of his Third Symphony, but his insatiable lust for conquest and power was so disillusioning that Beethoven rescinded the dedication and harbored a lifelong grudge. The hardship resulting from Napoleon's occupation of Vienna in 1809-10 added to his bitterness. The Seventh Symphony premiered on December 8, 1813 at a gala benefit concert of primarily Beethoven's own works to aid the wounded of the latest battles against Napoleon.

Also on the program were Wellington's Victory (the "Battle Symphony"), celebrating another Napoleonic defeat, the Eighth Symphony and numerous smaller works. Beethoven – although profoundly deaf – directed an orchestra made up of Vienna's most important musical celebrities: Louis Spohr, Domenico Dragonetti, Mauro Giuliani and Ignaz Schuppanzigh played in the strings; Giacomo Meyerbeer and Johann Nepomuk Hummel played timpani; Ignaz Moscheles played the cymbals, and even old Antonio Salieri was there, heading the percussion section.*

Each movement of the Seventh Symphony is dominated by persistent rhythmic motive that – especially in the second movement – is equal in importance to the melodic content of the themes. Richard Wagner described the Seventh Symphony as "the apotheosis of dance in its loftiest aspects." The story goes that he once attempted to demonstrate this dance to the accompaniment of Liszt's piano playing.

The lengthy slow introduction, featuring some of the repertory's loveliest oboe solos,

contrasts in mood with the Allegro, which follows in lively 6/8 meter. The opening movement actually consists of a single complex theme held together by an underlying dotted rhythm in the accompaniment.

The pulse extends throughout the entire movement and is only occasionally interrupted.

The theme of the second movement is minimal, a 4/4 ostinato consisting primarily of repeated pitches over which Beethoven adds counter-melodies and a buildup of the orchestration to create emotional tension.

Beethoven's innovative use of the rhythmic pulse in this movement influenced the romantic composers...

who followed and served as a model for Schubert in his Symphony No. 9 in C major, "the Great."

The Scherzo, in 3/4, is defined by driving quarter notes, dynamic contrasts and shifting rhythms.

The trio, with its legato melody for the winds, provides the expected contrast, breaking away from the rhythmic pulse of the Scherzo.

The nineteenth-century musicologist Sir Donald Tovey described the finale as "A triumph of Bacchic fury." The rondo theme, with its emphatic timpani part, resembles a stomping peasant dance – admittedly refined for the occasion.

* Louis Spohr (1784-1859) was one of Paris's most noted opera composers. Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846) was a virtuoso double bass player and composer. Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) was a famous Italian guitar virtuoso and composer. Ignaz Schuppanzigh (1776-1830) was an Austrian violinist, who headed a string quartet for whom Beethoven wrote the three Op.59 quartets. Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1776-1837) was a composer and pianist remembered today mostly for his clarinet compositions. Pianist and composer Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870) was a famous interpreter and editor of Beethoven's music. And former court composer to the Hapsburg emperors, Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) is familiar to music lovers for the fictional account of his rivalry with Mozart in the film Amadeus.

Program notes are written by Joseph and Elizabeth Kahn.

Classical Conversations

March 30, 2017 | 10:30 am | David Cohen Hall

The Sarasota Orchestra Friends invite you to join host Jonathan Spivey for Classical Conversations Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 10:30 am in David Cohen Hall. These concert previews are an opportunity to learn about Masterworks concerts from informed hosts who provide intriguing and helpful insights to the music.

Tickets for Classical Conversations are $12 at the door. Light refreshments, sponsored by Hotel Indigo, are served at 10:00 am, with the program beginning at 10:30 am.


Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation

Masterworks Season Title Sponsor

Susan and Zuheir Sofia

Rossini Overture Sponsors

Beatrice Friedman, Allan Friedman Memorial Piano Concert

Soloist Sponsor

Audrey and Art Wolcott

Beethoven Symphony Sponsors

Producing Sponsors

Edie Winston in loving memory of Herb Winston
Douglas and Sally Wright

Marie Monsky, Michael Saunders and Co.

Michael Saunders and Co.

Corporate Sponsor Saturday Night

Media Sponsor

Media Sponsor

Musical Musings

Read our blog about the Sarasota Orchestra and Sarasota Music Festival.

Read Blog


Written byHerald Tribune

 There's no doubt, audiences are thrilled by the Sarasota Orchestra's new music director, Anu Tali. She's brought an intense energy from the orchestra in previous performances and we found this yet again in a downright thrill ride of an encounter...  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Literally gripping the arms of my seat, I was not the only one propelled on this rollercoaster of delightful music.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Every section and soloist within the orchestra played their role with strength and beauty; every tree proud and tall. Tali served as an excellent guide leading the forces with assured confidence. The overall sound was lush and, yes, intense just where it needed to be.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 The Sarasota Orchestra was brimming with bubbling energy...  

Written byHerald Tribune

 A lifetime of musical moments, cinematic in scope, gave every section of the orchestra a leading role at one time or another. Chief among them was the virtuosic solo of concertmaster Daniel Jordan.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 It was a thrill ride resulting in an explosion of audience enthusiasm.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Tali conveyed a clear vision for the dramatic outline of this symphony, carefully pacing the darker, searching character of the music with pastoral conversations among voices in the orchestra.  

Written byThe Observer

 If you haven’t seen Tali yet, this will be a great introduction to the skyrocketing conductor who’s quickly becoming a household name around the world. You’ll see why we feel we’re lucky to have her here.  

Written byThe Observer

 Andrew Lane, the Orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, knows how to program a winning event and this concert had something for everyone. It also brought in a whole new audience that seemed dazzled by the performances.  

Written byThe Observer

 The Sarasota Orchestra played a program this past weekend filled with so much color, it was like visiting the Louvre.  

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