Performance Friday, April 27, 2012 | 8 PM

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Hear one of the most distinctive conductors of our generation lead one of America’s most distinctive orchestras in the world’s most distinctive hall. Sir Simon Rattle takes the podium to lead The Philadelphia Orchestra in Brahms’s Symphony No. 3—which he recorded to great acclaim in 2009 with the Berliner Philharmoniker—as well as Schumann’s majestic Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish, and Webern’s quicksilver Six Pieces, Op. 6.


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
    Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor


  • BRAHMS Symphony No. 3
  • WEBERN Six Pieces, Op. 6
  • SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish"



    The Philadelphia Orchestra

    Renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for an unrivaled legacy of "firsts" in music making, The Philadelphia Orchestra remains one of the preeminent orchestras in the world.

    The Philadelphia Orchestra has cultivated an extraordinary history of artistic leaders in its 112 seasons, including music directors Fritz Scheel, Carl Pohlig, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and Christoph Eschenbach, as well as the orchestra's current chief conductor, Charles Dutoit. In the 2012-2013 season, Yannick Nézet-Séguin becomes the eighth music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Named music director designate in 2010, Mr. Nézet-Séguin brings a vision that extends beyond symphonic music and into the vivid world of opera and choral music.

    Philadelphia is home, and the orchestra nurtures an important relationship with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The orchestra also performs for Philadelphia audiences at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Penn's Landing, and other regional venues. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association continues to own the Academy of Music-a National Historic Landmark-as it has since 1957.

    The ensemble maintains an important tradition of presenting educational programs for local audiences as well. Today the orchestra executes myriad education and community partnership programs, notably its Neighborhood Concert Series, Sound All Around and Family Concerts, eZseatU, and more.

    Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, The Philadelphia Orchestra touches the lives of countless music lovers around the world. The orchestra annually performs at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center while also enjoying a three-week residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in New York and a strong partnership with the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Please visit for more information.

    Sir Simon Rattle

    Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Following 15 years as a regular guest conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Mr. Rattle became its chief conductor and artistic director in 2002. He is also artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival, where he appears regularly with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Between 1980 and 1998, he was principal conductor and artistic adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, then music director. Mr. Rattle is a regular guest conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He is also a principal artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and founding patron of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

    An exclusive EMI artist for many years, Mr. Rattle has made more than 70 recordings for the label. Releases with the Berliner Philharmoniker include Holst's The Planets, together with Colin Matthews's Pluto, and related works by Kaija Saariaho, Matthias Pintscher, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Brett Dean; Shostakovich's First and 14th symphonies; Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and Suite from Le bourgeois gentilhomme; Debussy's La mer; Dvořák's tone poems; Schubert's "Great" Symphony; Orff's Carmina Burana; Bruckner's Symphony No. 4; the Nielsen Clarinet and Flute concertos; and Brahms's German Requiem, which won a Grammy Award for Best Choral Recording. His recent releases include Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms (recipient of a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance), Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, and Brahms's symphonies.

    Mr. Rattle was knighted in 1994 by the Queen of England. He has received many other distinctions, including the Grosse Verdienstkreuz by the German government, the Shakespeare Prize by the Toepfer Foundation in Hamburg, and in 1997, the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts. His educational program with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Zukunft@Bphil, has also earned him the Comenius Prize, the Schiller Special Prize from the city of Mannheim, the Golden Camera, and the Urania Medal. He and the Berliner Philharmoniker were appointed International UNICEF Ambassadors, the first time this honor has been conferred on an artistic ensemble.

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Schumann's Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish" (Lebhaft)
Philadelphia Orchestra | James Levine, Conductor

At a Glance

The three works on the program tonight invite us to think about the possibility of hidden musical meaning. Schumann, Brahms, and Webern are generally associated with "absolute music" and were reluctant to disclose background information concerning their compositions. None of Brahms's symphonies carry titles or tell overt stories, although there are often elements that suggest personal significance. His Third Symphony is saturated with the notes F-A-F, a musical motif he used in various pieces that represent his personal motto, Frei aber Froh ("free but happy"). The opening theme of the first movement, as well as other moments in the piece, seems to allude to the Third Symphony (the "Rhenish") of his mentor Robert Schumann, which closes the program tonight. Brahms composed his Third Symphony during the summer of 1883 while staying on the Rhine.

Anton Webern developed a reputation as a meticulous composer of abstract miniatures. His Six Pieces for Orchestra, however, are deeply personal, as he informed his teacher Arnold Schoenberg, to whom they are dedicated. The pieces are reflections on the death of his mother, beginning with foreboding, extending to the shock of the news, the funeral, and finally feelings of "remembrance and resignation."

Schumann did not give the title "Rhenish" to his Third Symphony (actually the last of his four symphonies to be completed), but he surely would have approved; as he told his publisher soon after its completion, the piece "here and there reflects a bit of local color." Further information was apparently passed on to a music critic who said the symphony presents "a slice of Rhenish life" and outlined the poetic content of each of the five movements.


Program Notes

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