Performance Sunday, May 17, 2015 | 3 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1, one of his first major works for orchestra, is among the grandest concertos. Its stormy opening movement and energetic Rondo finale frame a tender Adagio that Brahms said was a “gentle portrait” of Clara Schumann. Like much of Brahms’s music, it adheres to the models of classical form. But Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique is at the other end of the spectrum. Cast in five movements, each one is an episode in a tale of obsession, madness, and murder that culminates in a terrifying finale that depicts a witches’ sabbath.


  • The MET Orchestra
    James Levine, Music Director and Conductor
  • Yefim Bronfman, Piano


  • BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1
  • BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

At a Glance

JOHANNES BRAHMS  Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15

Brahms began writing what would eventually become his Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1854, at a critical point in his early development as a composer. He originally began the piece as a sonata for two pianos, but soon reworked it, first as a symphony and ultimately as a piano concerto. Ambitious and sprawling, the concerto makes considerable demands on the listener’s attention and concentration, and though it presents more than enough of a challenge to the soloist, it is not overtly virtuosic and flashy. There is struggle and conflict, too, but rather than the customary back-and-forth between piano and ensemble, there is a sense of the soloist and orchestra united in grappling with a higher power.

HECTOR BERLIOZ  Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

In the classical canon, there are precious few truly unprecedented works, pieces that at the time of their composition were so unexpected and deviated so drastically from convention that early audiences were shocked, confused, thrilled—and sometimes disgusted—in equal measure, and that, through revolution rather than evolution, changed the course of music history. Among these is Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, which both expanded the definition of what a symphony could be and gave birth to the new breed of vibrantly descriptive, viscerally dramatic program music that remained one of music’s strongest stylistic forces throughout the Romantic era. 

This performance is part of The MET Orchestra, and Sunday Afternoons.