Performance Thursday, November 14, 2013 | 8 PM

San Francisco Symphony

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
“There aren’t any musical sure bets these days as sure as a Mahler symphony from Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony” (San Francisco Chronicle). And when they perform the composer's elegiac Ninth Symphony, this is sure to be one of the most magical performances of the season.


  • San Francisco Symphony
    Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director and Conductor


  • MAHLER Symphony No. 9

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.


  • San Francisco Symphony

    The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) gave its first concerts in December 1911. Its music directors have included Henry Hadley, Alfred Hertz, Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, Pierre Monteux, Enrique Jordá, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt, and, since 1995, Michael Tilson Thomas. The SFS has won such recording awards as France's Grand Prix du Disque, Britain's Gramophone Award, and the Grammy in the US. For RCA Red Seal, Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS have recorded music from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, two Copland collections, a Gershwin collection, Stravinsky ballets (Le sacre du printemps, The Firebird, and Perséphone), and Charles Ives: An American Journey. Their recordings have won 15 Grammys, seven of those for their cycle of Mahler symphonies, available on the Symphony's own label, SFS Media. The recording of John Adams's Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine won a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Some of the most important conductors of the past and recent years have been guests on the SFS podium, among them Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, and Sir Georg Solti, and the list of composers who have led the orchestra includes Stravinsky, Ravel, Copland, and John Adams. The SFS Youth Orchestra, founded in 1980, has become known around the world, as has the SFS Chorus, heard on recordings and on the soundtracks of such films as Amadeus and The Godfather Part III. For two decades, the SFS Adventures in Music program has brought music to every child in grades 1-5 in San Francisco's public schools. SFS radio broadcasts, the first in the US to feature symphonic music when they began in 1926, today carry the orchestra's concerts across the country. In a multimedia program designed to make classical music accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, the SFS has launched Keeping Score on PBS, DVD, radio, and at the website San Francisco Symphony recordings are available at, as is a history of the SFS, Music for a City, Music for the World: 100 Years with the San Francisco Symphony.

    Michael Tilson Thomas

    Michael Tilson Thomas first conducted the San Francisco Symphony in 1974 and has been music director since 1995. A Los Angeles native, he studied with John Crown and Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, becoming music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at 19 and working with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland at the famed Monday Evening Concerts. He was pianist and conductor for Piatigorsky and Heifetz master classes and, as a student of Friedelind Wagner, an assistant conductor at Bayreuth. In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ten days later, he came to international recognition, replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO's associate conductor, then principal guest conductor. He has also served as director of the Ojai Festival, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, a principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and principal conductor of the Great Woods Festival. He became principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988, and now serves as principal guest conductor. For a decade he served as co-artistic director of Japan's Pacific Music Festival, which he and Leonard Bernstein inaugurated in 1990, and he continues as artistic director of the New World Symphony, which he founded in 1988. Mr. Tilson Thomas's recordings have won numerous international awards, and his recorded repertory reflects interests arising from work as conductor, composer, and pianist. His television credits include the New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts, and in 2004 he and the SFS launched Keeping Score on PBS. His compositions include From the Diary of Anne Frank, Shówa/Shoáh (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing), Poems of Emily Dickinson, Urban Legend, Island Music, and Notturno. He is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France, was selected as Gramophone's 2005 Artist of the Year, was named one of America's Best Leaders by US News & WorldReport, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2010 was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

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At a Glance

Though Mahler composed his last works (the unnumbered "song-symphony" Das Lied von der Erde  for orchestra and two vocal soloists; the Ninth Symphony, and the unfinished Tenth) under a medical sentence of death, he certainly did not withdraw from active music-making. He not only undertook new challenges in New Yorkfirst at the Metropolitan Opera and later with the New York Philharmonicbut also continued composing actively. On the boundary between the Romantic and the modern eras, Mahler's Ninth Symphonyhis last completed symphonyis a stunningly moving piece that can be interpreted as a meditation on both life and death, and is also widely considered one of the most beautiful and moving symphonies in the literature.
Program Notes


With an introduction my Maestro Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony performs part of the "Rondo-Burleske" movement from Mahler's Symphony No. 9.

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Sponsored by Breguet, Exclusive Timepiece of Carnegie Hall
The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Jean Stein, whose contribution honors the memory of Edward W. Said and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.