Performance Thursday, January 17, 2013 | 8 PM

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in his first year as music director, leads The Philadelphia Orchestra in Ravel’s La valse and Shostakovich’s intense, politically charged Symphony No. 5. Leonidas Kavakos, arguably “the most deeply satisfying violinist performing today” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), joins them for Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2, infused with euphoric sounds from the composer’s native Poland.


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
    Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director
  • Leonidas Kavakos, Violin


  • RAVEL La valse
  • SZYMANOWSKI Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 61
  • SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra

    Renowned for its distinctive sound, beloved 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 is 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, Christoph Eschenbach, and Charles Dutoit (who served as chief conductor from 2008 to 2012). With 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 into the vivid world of opera and choral music.

    Philadelphia is home, and the orchestra nurtures an important relationship not only with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, but also those who enjoy the orchestra's other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn's Landing, and other venues. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association also continues to own the Academy of Music-a National Historic Landmark-as it has since 1957.

    Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the United States. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in China, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The orchestra annually performs at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, while also enjoying a three-week residency in Saratoga Springs, NY, and a strong partnership with the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

    The ensemble maintains an important Philadelphia tradition of presenting educational programs for students of all ages. Today, the orchestra executes myriad education and community partnership programs that serve more than 45,000 annually, including its Neighborhood Concert Series, Sound All Around and Family Concerts, and eZseatU. Visit for more information.

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin became the eighth music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra with the start of the 2012-2013 season. Named music director designate in June 2010, he made his orchestra debut in December 2008. Over the past decade, Yannick has established himself as a musical leader of the highest caliber and one of the most exciting talents of his generation. Since 2008, he has been music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic, and since 2000 artistic director and principal conductor of Montreal's Orchestre Métropolitain. He has appeared with such revered ensembles as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Dresden Staatskapelle, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and major Canadian orchestras. His talents extend beyond symphonic music into opera and choral music, leading acclaimed performances at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Salzburg Festival, and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

    Highlights of Yannick's inaugural season include his Carnegie Hall debut with the Verdi Requiem, two world premieres, and performances of The Rite of Spring in collaboration with New York-based Ridge Theater, complete with dancers, video projection, and theatrical lighting. In July 2012, Yannick and Deutsche Grammophon announced a major long-term collaboration. His discography with the Rotterdam Philharmonic for BIS Records and EMI/Virgin includes an Edison Award-winning album of Ravel's orchestral works. He has also recorded several award-winning albums with the Orchestre Métropolitain for ATMA Classique. In addition, his first recording with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Mahler's Symphony No. 5, is available for download.

    A native of Montreal, Yannick studied at that city's Conservatory of Music and continued studies with renowned conductor Carlo Maria Giulini and with Joseph Flummerfelt at Westminster Choir College. In 2012, Yannick was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honors. His other honors include Canada's National Arts Centre Award; a Royal Philharmonic Society Award; the Prix Denise-Pelletier, the highest distinction for the arts in Quebec; and an honorary doctorate by the University of Quebec in Montreal. Visit to read Yannick's full bio.


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  • Leonidas Kavakos

    Violinist Leonidas Kavakos has been a regular soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra since making his debut in 1999 performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto under the baton of Charles Dutoit at the Mann Music Center. He has appeared with the orchestra under the direction of music directors Wolfgang Sawallisch and Christoph Eschenbach, as well as guest conductors Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Peter Oundjian. In 2009, Mr. Kavakos was a guest soloist for the orchestra's tour of Europe and the Canary Islands, performing in Tenerife, Grand Canary, Lisbon, Madrid, Valencia, Luxembourg, Budapest, and Vienna.

    Mr. Kavakos was still in his teens when he first gained international attention, winning the Sibelius Competition in 1985 and, three years later, the Paganini Competition. He now works with the world's major orchestras and conductors, including the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, La Scala Philharmonic, Mariinsky Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics. This season, he is the focus of the London Symphony Orchestra's UBS Soundscapes LSO Artist Portrait;  he is also artist-in-residence at the Berliner Philharmoniker. Increasingly recognized as a conductor as well, Mr. Kavakos makes conducting debuts with the Finnish Radio and Vienna symphony orchestras this season.

    Mr. Kavakos is now an exclusive Decca recording artist. His first CD on the label, featuring the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with pianist Enrico Pace, was released this month. They performed the sonatas at the Salzburg Festival in August 2012, and will reprise the performance at the Concertgebouw in 2013. Mr. Kavakos has a distinguished discography, including an award-winning disc with Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and a live recording of Mozart's five violin concertos and Symphony No. 39 with the Camerata Salzburg, both on Sony Classical. In 1991, shortly after winning the Sibelius Competition, Mr. Kavakos won a Gramophone Award for the first-ever recording of the original version of Sibelius's Violin Concerto, recorded on BIS. Mr. Kavakos plays the "Abergavenny" Stradivarius of 1724.


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Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage with Walter Frisch, Professor of Music, Columbia University.


Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47, 2. Allegretto (Scherzo)
Philadelphia Orchestra | Eugene Ormandy, Conductor
Sony Classical

At a Glance

Amid the heated debates about what path musical modernism should take in the 1920s and '30s, the three composers featured on the program tonight charted courses that were bold and distinctive, yet they never lost touch with audiences. Direct communication was a shared concern.

"I feel this work a kind of apotheosis of the Viennese waltz, linked in my mind with the impression of a fantastic whirl of destiny." So Maurice Ravel said of La valse, which he composed in the wake of the First World War, after a period of poor health, creative inactivity, and the death of his mother. The brilliantly orchestrated work begins mysteriously as a haunted waltz, and builds through various thrilling climaxes to a cataclysmic conclusion.

The great Polish composer Karol Szymanowski assimilated a wide range of influencesfrom the lush Romanticism of Strauss and Mahler to the Impressionism of Debussy and Raveland ultimately incorporated various folk traditions of the imposing Tatra Mountains near where he lived. The Violin Concerto No. 2 was his last major orchestral work, written in collaboration with his close friend, the celebrated violinist Paweł Kochański.

Shostakovich's most famous symphony, his magnificent Fifth, was the work that brought him back into the good graces of the Soviet musical establishment in 1937, after a series of harsh attacks on his music the previous year. Shostakovich's searing symphony not only won official approval, but also ultimately proved to be an enduring testament to the trying realities of his time.


Program Notes


Yannick Nézet-Séguin introduces The Philadelphia Orchestra and outlines the direction in which he plans to take the 112-year-old institution.

From the Carnegie Hall Archives: A Brief History of The Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

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