Performance Friday, December 6, 2013 | 7:30 PM

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Renowned for its distinctive sound, The Philadelphia Orchestra returns to Carnegie Hall with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas to perform Berlioz’s hallucinatory Symphonie fantastique and Brahms's First Piano Concerto with energetic pianist Hélène Grimaud. Hear why The New York Times has proclaimed that “on any given night this storied institution will probably prove anew that it remains one of the country’s premier ensembles.”

Please note that conductor Michael Tilson Thomas replaces Yannick Nézet-Séguin for this performance. Mr. Nézet-Séguin has cancelled his appearance due to illness. Ticketholders with any questions should contact CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800.


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
    Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor
  • Hélène Grimaud, 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.


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra

    The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for a legacy of innovation in music making. The orchestra is focused on inspiring the future while transforming its rich tradition of achievement, seeking to not simply sustain the highest level of artistic quality, but to challenge-and exceed-that level by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world.

    Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin triumphantly opened his inaugural season as the eighth artistic leader of the orchestra in fall 2012, and has been embraced by the musicians of the orchestra, audiences, and the community itself. Yannick's concerts of diverse repertoire attract sold-out houses, and he has established a regular forum for connecting with concertgoers through Post-Concert Conversations. In addition to recordings, in Yannick's inaugural season the orchestra has also returned to the radio airwaves with weekly Sunday afternoon broadcasts on WRTI-FM.

    Philadelphia is home, and the orchestra nurtures an important relationship not only with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center, but also those who enjoy the orchestra's other area performances at The Mann Center, Penn's Landing, and other venues. The orchestra is also a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the US. 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 annual residencies in Saratoga Springs, New York, and at the Bravo! Vail festival.

    Musician-led initiatives, including highly successful Cello and Violin Play-Ins, shine a spotlight on the orchestra's musicians as they spread out from the stage into the community. The orchestra's commitment to its education and community partnership initiatives manifests itself in numerous other ways, including concerts for families and students, and eZseatU, a program that allows full-time college students to attend an unlimited number of orchestra concerts for a $25 annual membership fee. Visit for more information.

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin triumphantly opened his inaugural season as the eighth music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the fall of 2012. His highly collaborative style, deeply rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming, have been heralded by critics and audiences alike. In his first season, he took the orchestra to new musical heights. His second builds on that momentum with highlights that include a Philadelphia Commissions Micro-Festival, for which three leading composers have been commissioned to write solo works for three of the orchestra's principal players; the next installment in his multi-season focus on requiems with Fauré's Requiem; and a unique, theatrically staged presentation of Strauss's revolutionary opera Salome, a first-ever co-production with Opera Philadelphia.

    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 becomes the first-ever mentor conductor of the Curtis Institute of Music's conducting fellows program in fall 2013. He has made wildly successful appearances with the world's most revered ensembles, and has conducted critically acclaimed performances at many of the leading opera houses.

    Yannick and Deutsche Grammophon (DG) enjoy a long-term collaboration. Under his leadership, the orchestra returns to recording with a newly released CD on that label of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Leopold Stokowski transcriptions. Yannick continues a fruitful recording relationship with the Rotterdam Philharmonic for DG, BIS, and EMI/Virgin; the London Philharmonic for the LPO label; and the Orchestre Métropolitain for ATMA Classique.

    A native of Montreal, Yannick studied at that city's Conservatory of Music and continued lessons with renowned conductor Carlo Maria Giulini and with Joseph Flummerfelt at Westminster Choir College. Among Yannick's honors are an appointment as Companion of the Order of Canada, a Royal Philharmonic Society Award, Canada's National Arts Centre Award, the Prix Denise-Pelletier, and an honorary doctorate by the University of Quebec in Montreal. Visit to read Yannick's full bio.

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  • Hélène Grimaud

    French pianist Hélène Grimaud  was born in 1969 in Aix-en-Provence, where she began her piano studies. She was accepted into the Conservatoire de Paris at age 13, and in 1987 made her recital debut in Tokyo. That same year, Daniel Barenboim invited her to perform with the Orchestre de Paris, marking the launch of Ms. Grimaud's musical career-one highlighted by concerts with most of the world's major orchestras and many celebrated conductors. She has been an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon (DG) artist since 2002, and her recordings have been awarded numerous accolades, among them the Cannes Classical Recording of the Year, Choc du Monde de la Musique, Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix du Disque, and most recently the 2013 ECHO Klassik award for Duo, a collaboration with cellist Sol Gabetta.

    Brahms has featured prominently in Ms. Grimaud's programming repertoire throughout the past year. In September, DG released her album of the two Brahms piano concertos, the first with Andris Nelsons conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the second recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Performance highlights of 2013 have included appearances in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Russia, Brazil, China, and Japan, playing with ensembles that include the Czech, St. Petersburg, and Los Angeles philharmonics; the Cleveland and Russian National orchestras; and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Grimaud is also an ardent chamber musician who performs frequently at the most prestigious festivals and cultural events with a wide range of musical collaborators.

    In addition to her many musical milestones, Ms. Grimaud has established herself as a committed wildlife conservationist, human rights activist, and writer. Between her debut in 1995 with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado and her first performance with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in 1999, she established the Wolf Conservation Center in New York State. Her love for the endangered species was sparked by a chance encounter with a wolf in northern Florida. Ms. Grimaud is also a member of Musicians for Human Rights, a worldwide network of people who work in the music field to promote a culture of social change.

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Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique ("Un bal")
Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra | Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Conductor

At a Glance 

Hector Berlioz and Johannes Brahms more or less held opposite views on what kind of music to write. They met a few times and, somewhat surprisingly, admired one another. Recognition of creative genius apparently transcended profoundly differing aesthetic positions.

Brahms, as the "Classical Romantic," furthered the tradition of Felix Mendelssohn and of his mentor Robert Schumann. He believed in so-called absolute music, and his pieces typically shunned descriptive titles or programmatic stories. Tonight, we hear his magnificent Second Piano Concerto, a work Eduard Hanslick, the celebrated Viennese music critic and ardent Brahms supporter, called a "symphony with piano obbligato." While the four-movement structure indeed points toward the genre of the symphony, the hallmark of concerto form—the interaction between soloist and ensemble—is unforgettably established at the very opening when a lyric horn melody is gracefully answered by the piano, leading into a dazzling keyboard cadenza.

At age 27, Berlioz premiered one of the most remarkable first symphonies ever written. But rather than play to the expectations of his audience by casting it in four movements and identifying the work with a number, key, and opus, he called it Épisode de la vie d'un artiste, Symphonie fantastique en cinq parties (Episode in the Life of an Artist: Fantastic Symphony in Five Movements).

Such program music, which came to dominate musical Romanticism for the rest of the century, drew inspiration from literature, history, nature, and other extra-musical sources. For his symphony, Berlioz not only indicated titles, but also devised an elaborate semi-autobiographical program, which was published in newspapers and handed out at the premiere. The result was a truly fantastic symphony in multiple senses, one that had dramatic qualities usually associated with opera and that deployed an enormous orchestra to spectacular effect. A brief musical motif, the idée fixe associated with the artist's beloved, appears in each of the five movements and lends a larger unity to the work.
Program Notes


Yannick Nézet-Séguin Explains the "Philadelphia Sound."

The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Jean-Marie and Elizabeth Eveillard in support of the 2013-2014 season.
This performance is part of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Snowbird Sampler.