Performance Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | 8 PM

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Vienna State Opera

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
In what will likely be one of the most spirited and joyous performances of the season, Schoenberg’s ethereal hymn for eternal peace Friede auf Erden opens a program that also includes life-affirming music in celebration of hope and the human spirit: Beethoven’s monumental Ninth and its celebrated "Ode to Joy."


  • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Vienna State Opera
    Franz Welser-Möst, Conductor
  • Ricarda Merbeth, Soprano
  • Zoryana Kushpler, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Peter Seiffert, Tenor
  • Günther Groissböck, Bass
  • New York Choral Artists
    Joseph Flummerfelt, Chorus Director


  • SCHOENBERG Friede auf Erden
  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9

Event Duration

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


  • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

    There is perhaps no other musical ensemble more consistently and closely associated with the history and tradition of European classical music than the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (VPO). In the course of its 172-year history, the musicians of this most prominent orchestra of the capital city of music have been an integral part of a musical epoch that-thanks to an abundance of gifted composers and interpreters-must certainly be regarded as unique. Additionally, the orchestra's extensive touring schedule, prolific recordings, and global television broadcasts allow its artistry to be experienced around the world.

    The orchestra's close association with this rich musical history is best illustrated by the statements of countless preeminent musical personalities of the past. Richard Wagner described the orchestra as being one of the most outstanding in the world; Anton Bruckner called it "the most superior musical association"; Johannes Brahms counted himself a "friend and admirer"; Gustav Mahler claimed to be joined together through "the bonds of musical art"; and Richard Strauss summarized these sentiments by saying, "All praise of the Vienna Philharmonic reveals itself as understatement."

    The Vienna State Opera Orchestra holds a special relationship with the private association known as the Vienna Philharmonic. In accordance with Philharmonic statutes, only a member of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra can become a member of the Vienna Philharmonic. The engagement in the Vienna State Opera Orchestra provides the musicians a financial stability that would be impossible to attain without relinquishing their autonomy to private or corporate sponsors. Over the course of more than a century and a half, this chosen path of democratic self-administration has experienced slight modifications, but has never been substantially altered. The foremost ruling body of the organization is the orchestra itself.

    The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's mission is to communicate the humanitarian message of music into the daily lives and consciousness of its listeners. For more than a decade, the VPO has given benefit concerts in support of humanitarian causes around the world, and since 1999, it makes an annual donation of 100,000 Euros from its New Year's Concert to a variety of international charitable organizations. In 2005, the orchestra was named Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organization, and has served as an official Goodwill Ambassador for IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) since 2012. Since 2008, Rolex has been the Exclusive Sponsor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The musicians endeavor to implement the motto with which Ludwig van Beethoven, whose symphonic works served as a catalyst for the creation of the orchestra, prefaced his Missa solemnis: "From the heart, to the heart."

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  • Vienna State Opera

    Vienna's operatic tradition goes back to the early 18th century, when most performances took place at the imperial court. In December 1857, Emperor Franz Joseph I decreed that the old inner-city fortifications would be torn down, and a broad boulevard, the Ring, featuring new magnificent buildings dedicated to the various cultural and political institutions, would be built in their place. Both the court theaters for drama and opera would be relocated to the Ring. The opera house opened on May 25, 1869, with a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni. The opera's popularity grew under its first directors-Franz von Dingelstedt, Johann von Herbeck, Franz von Jauner, and Wilhelm Jahn-culminating in the directorship of Gustav Mahler (1897-1907). Between 1938 and 1945, many members of the theater were persecuted, banished, or assassinated by the National Socialists, and many operas were banned. During World War II, the house was almost totally destroyed during a bombing raid, and it was uncertain whether the institution would survive. However, the State Opera in the Volksoper reopened on May 1, 1945, with a performance of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and on October 6, 1945, the restored Theater an der Wien reopened with a performance of Fidelio. There were now two theaters where performances could take place while the opera house itself was restored. (Only the main facade, the grand staircase, the emperor's tea room, and the Schwind-Foyer had been spared from the bombs.) On November 5, 1955, the house, which now featured a new auditorium and modernized stage machinery, reopened with a performance of Fidelio.

    Throughout the opera's history, the greatest interpreters have performed at the house, and important masterpieces have received world premieres there, including Massenet's Werther and Strauss's Viennese version of Ariadne auf Naxos as well as his Die Frau ohne Schatten. In addition to Mahler, Richard Strauss, Clemens Krauss, Karl Böhm, Herbert von Karajan, and Lorin Maazel have served as directors. Today, the Vienna State Opera is among the most important opera houses in the world, offering more than 300 performances of 60 different operas and ballets each season. The artistic pillars of the opera house are a regular ensemble of singers; the ballet ensemble (Vienna State Ballet); the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, from which the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra recruits its members; the Vienna State Opera Chorus; and the stage orchestra, in addition to guest singers, dancers, and conductors. Dominique Meyer is director, Franz Welser-Möst is general music director, and Manuel Legris is director of the Vienna State Ballet. Visit for more information.

    Franz Welser-Möst

    One of today's most celebrated conductors, Franz Welser-Möst leads two of the world's great cultural institutions, as general music director of the Vienna State Opera and music director of The Cleveland Orchestra.

    Mr. Welser-Möst's long partnership with the Vienna State Opera has included several acclaimed new productions, with a focus on German as well as Italian and Slavic operas and the cultivation of traditional and new repertoires and innovative projects. In his first two seasons as general music director, he conducted the critically praised new productions of Hindemith's Cardillac, Janáček's Káťa Kabanová and From the House of the Dead, and Verdi's Don Carlo. During the 2013-2014 season, he leads new productions of Puccini's La fanciulla del West and Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen; revivals of last season's acclaimed stagings of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos; and the company's longstanding major productions of Fidelio, Parsifal, La bohème, and Der Rosenkavalier. In summer 2014, he will conduct Der Rosenkavalier at the Salzburg Festival.

    The 2013-2014 season also marks Mr. Welser-Möst's 12th year with The Cleveland Orchestra, a relationship that in 2008 was extended through the orchestra's centennial year in 2018. With the orchestra, he has built close relationships with Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, giving performances of Bruckner symphonies in 2011 and Strauss's Salome in 2012 that achieved outstanding success. He and the orchestra also hold regular residencies at Vienna's Musikverein, at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals, and in Miami.

    As a guest conductor, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys an exceptionally close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 2013, he had the honor of leading the orchestra's celebrated New Year's Concert for the second time in three years. Recordings of both appearances have reached double-platinum status. He has also performed with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals, the BBC Proms, Tokyo's Suntory Hall, the Sommernachtskonzert at Schönbrunn Palace, and on a regular basis as part of the orchestra's subscription series at the Musikverein.

    Mr. Welser-Möst's recordings, both on CD and DVD, have won a number of major awards, including the Gramophone Award, Diapason d'Or, Japanese Record Academy Award, and two Grammy nominations. He is the recipient of many honors, including honorary membership in the Wiener Singverein and Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, the Gold Medal of Upper Austria, the Decoration of Honor from the Republic of Austria, and the Kilenyi Medal of Honour from the Bruckner Society of America. He was named Conductor of the Year by Musical America in 2003, and is an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste.


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  • Ricarda Merbeth

    Following her vocal studies in Leipzig, Ricarda Merbeth performed at the Städtische Bühnen in Magdeburg and in Weimar. She made her debut at the Vienna State Opera as Marzelline in Fidelio in 1999. Her other roles with the company have included Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Eva (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Giulietta (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Daphne, Chrysothemis (Elektra), Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Freia (Das Rheingold), Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier), the title roles in Salome and Jenůfa, Elsa (Lohengrin), and Sieglinde (Die Walküre).

    Ms. Merbeth has performed on international stages in Milan, Rome, Paris, Zurich, Madrid, Dresden, Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, Bayreuth, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Barcelona, Sydney, Moscow, and Tokyo. Her repertoire also includes such roles as the Empress (Die Frau ohne Schatten), Marietta/Marie in Die tote Stadt, Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos), the title role in Die ägyptische Helena, and Senta (Der fliegende Holländer). In 2011, she was apppointed Österreichische Kammersängerin. In 2013-2014, her roles at the Vienna State Opera include Leonore (Fidelio).

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  • Zoryana Kushpler

    Zoryana Kushpler was born in Lviv, Ukraine. At the age of five, she started piano lessons with her mother, later switching to the violin. Beginning in 1993, she studied vocal arts in her father's class at the University of Music in Lviv, and transferred to the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg in 1998. She was member of the ensemble of the Stadttheater Bern from 2004 to 2006; additional performances have led her to Zurich, Geneva, Venice, Milan, Florence, Hamburg, Berlin, and London, where her roles have included Sesto in Giulio Cesare and Preziosilla in La forza del destino. Additional performances have included Adelaide in Arabella at Graz Opera; and Carmen, Giulietta (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Maddalena (Rigoletto), and Prinz Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) at the Vienna Volksoper.

    Ms. Kushpler made her Vienna State Opera debut in 2007 as Adelaide, and her other roles for the company have included Polina and Daphnis (Pique Dame), Olga (Eugene Onegin), Giulietta (Les contes d'Hoffmann), Fenena (Nabucco), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera), Prinz Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), and Preziosilla (La forza del destino). In the current season, she sings Prinz Orlofsky, Lola (Cavalleria rusticana), Marthe (Faust), Fenena (Nabucco), and Larina (Eugene Onegin).

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  • Peter Seiffert

    Peter Seiffert studied at the Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf, and was a prizewinner at the Deutsche Musikrat competition. In addition to engagements at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he has performed the title role in Lohengrin, he has been a guest on the world's most important opera stages, singing numerous roles. In 1992, he was appointed Bayerischer Kammersänger. In 1996, he made his Bayreuth Festival debut as Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and he sang Lohengrin at the festival in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005. Mr. Seiffert's roles at the Zurich Opera include Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Parsifal, Florestan (Fidelio), Erik (Der fliegende Holländer), Tannhäuser, and Turiddu (Cavalleria rusticana).

    Additional highlights include Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos in Los Angeles, the title role in Tannhäuser and Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Metropolitan Opera and at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Turiddu at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Florestan and Siegmund in Valencia, and Max in Der Freischütz at the Salzburg Festival. Recent engagements include Tristan in Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as in Berlin, Zurich, and Barcelona; Florestan in Munich and at La Scala; Walther in Zurich; Tannhäuser in Berlin and Zurich; and the title role in Otello in Vienna and Berlin. Roles at the Vienna State Opera in 2013-2014 include Tristan and Florestan. In 2013, he was apppointed Österreichischer Kammersänger.

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  • Günther Groissböck

    Austrian bass Günther Groissböck studied voice at Vienna's Academy for Music and Performing Arts, and has collaborated with acclaimed bass-baritone José van Dam since 2005. From 2003 to 2007, he was a member of the ensemble of the Zurich Opera, where his roles included Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Amonasro in Aida, and Zoroastro in Orlando Paladino.

    Mr. Groissböck has appeared at opera houses that include Berlin's Deutsche Oper; the Bavarian, Berlin, and Vienna State Operas; Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu; Madrid's Teatro Real; the San Francisco and Los Angeles operas; the Metropolitan Opera; Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet and Opéra Bastille; and the Salzburg Festival, performing such roles as Landgraf in Tannhäuser, Fafner in Das Rheingold, Eremit in Der Freischütz, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Hunding in Die Walküre, Heinrich in Lohengrin, and Water Gnome in Rusalka.

    Mr. Groissböck has collaborated with conductors including Riccardo Chailly, Donald Runnicles, Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Seiji Ozawa, Kent Nagano, Roger Norrington, Philippe Jordan, Nello Santi, Christoph Eschenbach, Ivor Bolton, and Marek Janowski. Concert engagements include performances at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Berlin's Philharmonie, Royal Festival Hall in London, Symphony Hall in Boston, and Vienna's Musikverein.

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  • New York Choral Artists

    The New York Choral Artists was founded by Joseph Flummerfelt in 1979. Highlights of past seasons include a memorial performance of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem with the New York Philharmonic in 2001; the world premiere of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls with the same orchestra in 2002; and performances at the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986 and the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall. The choir has sung under the batons of Leonard Bernstein, Riccardo Chailly, Sir Colin Davis, Erich Leinsdorf, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, and Riccardo Muti, among many others.

    Collaborating regularly with the New York Philharmonic, the choir has performed Strauss's Elektra, Puccini's Tosca, Mahler's Symphony No. 8, and Britten's War Requiem on the occasion of Mr. Maazel's retirement; Handel's Messiah with Nicholas McGegan; and an acclaimed run of My Fair Lady with Rob Fischer. Other performances include Verdi's Requiem, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, and Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky.

    The New York Choral Artists' discography includes On the Transmigration of Souls with Lorin Maazel and Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with Leonard Bernstein, both of which won Grammy Awards; Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Zubin Mehta; Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13 with Kurt Masur; Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd; Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, Oedipus Rex, and Requiem Canticles; Gershwin's Porgy and Bess; a Christmas recording that features Kathleen Battle; and a Christmas album, O Come All Ye Faithful. Jacqueline Pierce is the contractor for the New York Choral Artists.

    Joseph Flummerfelt, Musical America's 2004 Conductor of the Year, is the founder and musical director of the New York Choral Artists. He is also an artistic director of the Spoleto Festival USA, and was the conductor of the Westminster Choir for 33 years. Mr. Flummerfelt has conducted more than 50 performances with the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Italy and the US. He has also guest conducted numerous US orchestras in Haydn's Creation and the world premiere of Stephen Paulus's Voices of Light with the New York Philharmonic and the Westminster Choir, among others. For nearly four decades, Mr. Flummerfelt has collaborated in the preparation of hundreds of choral-orchestral performances with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, and Riccardo Chailly, among others.

    Mr. Flummerfelt's Westminster Symphonic Choir and New York Choral Artists have been featured in 45 recordings, including Britten's War Requiem, Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with Leonard Bernstein, John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, and Messiaen's La transfiguration de notre seigneur Jésus Christ with the National Symphony Orchestra. His recordings of Barber's Antony and Cleopatra and of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls with the New York Philharmonic won Grammy Awards, and he has received Grammy nominations for the Westminster Choir's recording of Haydn's Missa in angustiis with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, and Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette with Riccardo Muti and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Other accolades include Le Prix du Président de la République from L'Académie du Disque Français, and four honorary doctoral degrees.

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At a Glance

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, an iconic expression of human solidarity, is one of the most challenging and technically innovative of all symphonic works. This epic fusion of vocal and symphonic writing—from the abyss of nothing in the opening to the "Ode to Joy" in the finale—profoundly influenced not only the Romantics, but modern composers like Schoenberg as well. Indeed, Schoenberg's Friede auf Erden, the short work that opens this program, has intriguing parallels to Beethoven's Ninth: It is a choral-orchestral depiction of peace and brotherhood that uses harmonies that were as audacious for the early 20th century as Beethoven's were for the early 19th. In this program's provocative pairing, one can hear the transition from Classicism to Romanticism and from the latter to modernism. Both of these choral-orchestral masterpieces enlarged musical possibility.
Program Notes


Carnegie Hall's Director of Artistic Planning, Jeremy Geffen, discusses Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

Lead funding for Vienna: City of Dreams is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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