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In One City, In One Century, How the Symphony Changed

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting The Philadelphia Orchestra";

The symphony, as we know it today, underwent major changes from the end of the 18th to the late 19th century. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, two symphonies from two composers in Vienna during that time illustrate the range of the form.

Listen to a re-broadcast from 2016 of Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading The Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, Thursday, April 2nd at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2 and the Classical Stream at WRTI.org. and Friday, April 3rd at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 FM. 

Radio Script:

Susan Lewis: Haydn was a prominent figure in Vienna in 1795 when he wrote his 103rd Symphony as one of 12 for his visits to London. From its sometimes surprising start to its finale, the work showcases Haydn’s development, and almost seems to anticipate the future.

MUSIC: Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 103

Haydn almost seems to anticipate the future.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin: The way Haydn conveys the spirit of Austrian music, especially connected to nature....

SL: Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

YNS: There is a sense of being rooted in folklore, which is the case with much other central European music.

SL: More than 80 years later, Bruckner’s 4th symphony—for a much larger orchestra—sounds very different, yet connected to its symphonic ancestor.

YNS: ...the characteristic of his 4th symphony is more connected to nature in general, and to—I wouldn’t say folklore—the history of the Austrian nation, the people, going back to medieval times.

SL: In Vienna, Bruckner composed his nine numbered symphonies. His fourth, which he himself titled “Romantic,” premiered in 1881 and has become one of his most popular works.

Listen to Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin talk with WRTI's Susan Lewis about the Haydn Symphony No. 103 and the Bruckner 4th Symphony.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.