Manfred Honeck will make his Philharmonic debut conducting Braunfels's Suite from Fantastic Apparitions on a Theme by Berlioz; Grieg's Piano Concerto, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 on Thursday, January 3, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 4 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, January 5 at 8:00 p.m.
Manfred Honeck is an ardent champion of German composer Walter Braunfels. As the conductor told The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Braunfels is extremely honest in his attitude and artistry. He's a master of instrumentation. A great composer." The program concludes with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, of which the Orchestra performed the U.S. Premiere on November 18, 1843. These concerts take place almost 200 years after Beethoven conducted the work's premiere on December 8, 1813, in Vienna.
The third movement of Grieg's Piano Concerto utilizes the rhythms of two Norwegian folk dances: the lalling and the springdans. Wagner called Beethoven's rhythmically driven Symphony No. 7 the "apotheosis of the dance," and early inspiration for Braunfels's Fantastic Apparitions initially also came from the world of dance. The composer recalled: "During my young years [German playwright] Frank Wedekind had spoken to me about his flea ballet. Nothing came of the composition at the time. But when I later heard La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz, I could not stop thinking of Mephisto's flea song, and I began to compose a piece: life, deeds, and opinions of a flea. The Fantastic Apparitions later developed from this."
Harvey Sachs, The Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, will introduce the program. Pre-Concert Talks are $7; discounts available for multiple concerts, students, and groups. They take place one hour before each performance in the Helen Hull Room, unless otherwise noted. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: nyphil.org or (212) 875-5656.
National and International Radio Broadcast
The program will be broadcast the week of January 23, 2013,* on The New York Philharmonic This Week, a radio concert series syndicated weekly to more than 300 stations nationally, and to 122 outlets internationally, by the WFMT Radio Network. The 52-week series, hosted by actor Alec Baldwin, is generously underwritten by The Kaplen Foundation, the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Philharmonic's corporate partner, MetLife Foundation. The broadcast will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, nyphil.org. The program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. *Check local listings for broadcast and program information.
Manfred Honeck was appointed the ninth music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in January 2007 and began his tenure at the start of the 2008–09 season. In February 2012 his contract was extended a second time, to run through the 2019–20 season. Following a tour of Europe in 2011, which included appearances at major music festivals such as BBC Proms, Lucerne, Grafenegg, Rheingau, Schleswig-Holstein, and Musikfest Berlin, Mr. Honeck and the PSO returned to Europe in October–November 2012 for performances that included a four- concert residency at Vienna's Musikverein.
Born in Austria, Mr. Honeck began his career in Vienna as conductor of the Jeunesse Orchestra, which he co-founded, and as assistant to Claudio Abbado at the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. Subsequently he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he received the prestigious European Conductor's Award in 1993. In 1996 he began a three-year stint as one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig and, in 1997, served as music director at the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo.
A successful tour of Europe with the Oslo Philharmonic marked the beginning of his close collaboration with this orchestra, which appointed Mr. Honeck principal guest conductor. He was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2000 to 2006 and principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2011, a position he will resume from 2013 to 2016. As music director of the Stuttgart Staatsoper from 2007 to 2011, he conducted premieres of Berlioz's Les Troyens, Mozart's Idomeneo, Verdi's Aida, Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites, and Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal.