Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony highlights this Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert re-broadcast from 2016 on Sunday, October 4th at 1 PM on WRTI and Monday, October 5th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2. But there’s so much more. The Violin Concerto of John Williams and Ravel’s well-loved Pavane round out a brilliant program conducted by Stéphane Denève, who recently finished his tenure as the Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor.
Maurice Ravel’s lilting Pavane for a Dead Princess begins the concert. While Ravel studied at the Paris Conservatory under Gabriel Fauré, he composed this piece with the hope that it would evoke what, in his words, “a little princess might, in former times, have danced at the Spanish court.”
Then, renowned violinist James Ehnes is the soloist in the haunting Violin Concerto of John Williams. Williams is widely hailed as today’s preeminent film composer, but he has also composed many concert works, most notably, a dozen concertos. Williams dedicated his violin concerto to the memory of his wife, musical actress Barbara Ruick, best known for her work in the 1956 film version of Carousel and the 1965 TV version of Cinderella.
She had urged her husband to compose the violin concerto, but died suddenly at age 43 of a cerebral hemorrhage before the piece was finished.
Beethoven wrote his Seventh Symphony in 1811-12. It’s hard for us even to begin to comprehend what the Viennese had been through during the preceding decade. Napoleon’s occupations of Vienna in 1805 and 1809 were traumatic — buildings burned and left in ruin; many dead—but the tide had recently turned. The Duke of Wellington had beaten Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s younger brother, in the northern Spanish town of Vittoria, and within the year the Congress of Vienna would be convened to reapportion Europe in the aftermath of France’s defeat.
In this symphony, there is the widest range of human feeling imaginable, and it remains—more than two centuries after its composition—one of the greatest masterpieces in all of music.
During intermission, Susan Lewis speaks with violinist James Ehnes and Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève.
Don’t miss this concert, the second-to-last of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2015-16 season!
Maurice Ravel: Pavane for a Dead Princess
John Williams: Violin Concerto
James Ehnes, violin
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
Stéphane Denève, Conductor
Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts on WRTI, every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1 FM, online at WRTI.org, and on our mobile app! Listen again on Monday nights at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2.