Performance Saturday, April 12, 2014 | 8 PM

Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Karita Mattila, a soprano who can “spin a Straussian melodic line with sumptuous lyricism” (The New York Times), joins Fabio Luisi and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra to delve into some of the most meltingly romantic music Richard Strauss ever wrote, the Four Last Songs. Also on the program are the composer’s heroic tone poem Ein Heldenleben and his orchestral suite from Der Rosenkavalier.

Please note that Lorin Maazel is unable to conduct this evening’s concert due to illness. Carnegie Hall and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra are immensely grateful to Fabio Luisi for agreeing to conduct in his place. Mr. Luisi is currently leading rehearsals of La Cenerentola in New York City and appears at Carnegie Hall courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.


  • Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
    Fabio Luisi, Conductor
  • Karita Mattila, Soprano


  • Der Rosenkavalier Suite
  • Four Last Songs
  • Ein Heldenleben

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

    The Munich Philharmonic was founded in 1893. Since then-and under the direction of a series of renowned conductors-it has vastly enriched Munich's musical life. In the orchestra's earliest years, conductors Hans Winderstein and Felix Weingartner guaranteed a high performance level. Gustav Mahler conducted the orchestra in the world premieres of his Fourth and Eighth symphonies, and in November 1911, the world premiere of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde took place under Bruno Walter's direction. Ferdinand Löwe led the orchestra's first Bruckner concerts and established its Bruckner tradition, which was then gloriously continued by Siegmund von Hausegger and Oswald Kabasta. Eugen Jochum opened the first concert after World War II with Mendelssohn's Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    In autumn 1945, the orchestra acquired the services of the outstanding conductor Hans Rosbaud, who took up the cudgel for new music. His successor, from 1949 to 1965, was Fritz Rieger, during whose administration the groundwork was laid for the Philharmonic's successful youth work. During the Rudolf Kempe era (1967-1976), the Philharmonic made its first tour to the Soviet Union.

    In 1979, Sergiu Celibidache conducted his first series of concerts with the orchestra and was then appointed music director in June of the same year. His legendary Bruckner concerts made a major contribution to the orchestra's international reputation. From September 1999 until July 2004, the post of chief conductor was held by James Levine, under whose direction the orchestra was recognized by the German Music Publishers' Association for having the best concert program of the 2002-2003 season.

    In January 2004, the Philharmonic named Zubin Mehta the first conductor laureate in its history. In May 2003, Christian Thielemann became music director, and in November 2007, he led the orchestra on a tour to Japan, Korea, and China. These successful performances were followed by a repeat tour to Japan for five concerts in May 2010.

    In September 2010, the orchestra traveled with Mr. Mehta to South America, where it received plaudits from both press and public. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Munich world premiere of Mahler's Symphony
    No. 8, Mr. Thielemann led two performances of the work in October 2010. Lorin Maazel has been music director of the orchestra since the beginning of the 2012-2013 season.

    Fabio Luisi

    Grammy Award-winner Fabio Luisi currently serves as principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and general music director of the Zurich Opera. He recently concluded his tenure as chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony, where he was honored with the orchestra's Golden Bruckner Medal and Golden Bruckner Ring. In 2014, he was awarded the highest honor from his hometown of Genoa-the Grifo d'Oro-for his contributions to the city's artistic community.

    The 2013-2014 season finds the preeminent Italian conductor leading Metropolitan Opera productions of Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Rossini's La Cenerentola, which stars Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, and Luca Pisaroni, and will be transmitted live to movie theaters around the world in the Met's celebrated Live in HD series. In his second season at the helm of the Zurich Opera, Mr. Luisi premieres important new productions of Beethoven's Fidelio and Verdi's Aida, and conducts revivals of Bellini's La straniera, Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann, and Verdi's Don Carlo with René Pape, which is also the vehicle for the conductor's return to the Teatro alla Scala. As distinguished in the concert hall as in the opera house, Mr. Luisi leads five orchestral programs with the Philharmonia Zurich, makes his long-awaited London Symphony Orchestra debut, and returns to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and The Cleveland Orchestra, with which he launches the new season.

    Maestro Luisi's previous appointments include serving as general music director of Dresden's Staatskapelle and Saxon State Opera (2007-2010), artistic director of the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra (1999-2007), music director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (1997-2002), chief conductor of the Tonkünstler-Orchester in Vienna (1995-2000), and artistic director of the Graz Symphony Orchestra (1990-1996). He maintains an active schedule of guest engagements with international orchestras and opera companies, and has appeared with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, Tokyo's NHK Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Rome's Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, among others. He is also a frequent guest at the Vienna, Bavarian, and Berlin state operas, and Deutsche Oper Berlin.

    More Info

  • Karita Mattila

    Karita Mattila is one of today's most exciting lyric dramatic sopranos. She is recognized as much for the beauty and versatility of her voice as for her extraordinary stage ability. A native of Finland, Ms. Mattila was trained at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where her teacher was Liisa Linko-Malmio; she subsequently studied with Vera Rózsa for nearly 20 years. She sings at all the world's major opera houses and festivals and has performed with such conductors as James Levine, Claudio Abbado, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Bernard Haitink, Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Wolfgang Sawallisch.

    Ms. Mattila's operatic repertoire encompasses works by Beethoven, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, and Janáček. Her 2012-2013 season included performances of the lead roles in The Makropulos Case (Finnish National Opera) and Jenůfa (Bavarian State Opera). Other recent highlights have included performances of Leonore in Fidelio (Houston Grand Opera), the title role of Janáček's Káťa Kabanová (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Lisa in Pique Dame (Metropolitan Opera), and Emilia Marty in The Makropulos Case (San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera). Ms. Mattila's innate sense of drama has led to remarkable collaborations with major stage directors, including Luc Bondy in his highly acclaimed Don Carlos and Jürgen Flimm in his Fidelio at the Metropolitan Opera.

    Throughout her distinguished career, Ms. Mattila has won numerous awards, including Musical America's Musician of the Year and France's Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. She has many recordings to her credit, including Strauss's Four Last Songs with Mr. Abbado on Deutsche Grammophon; Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg on Decca with the late Sir Georg Solti, which won a Grammy Award in 1998; Jenůfa on Erato/Warner with Mr. Haitink, which won a Grammy in 2004; and Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14 with Sir Simon Rattle on EMI.

    Highlights of Ms. Mattila's 2013-2014 season include her role debut as Marie in Wozzeck (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), Erwartung with the St. Louis Symphony, the title role in Jenůfa (Finnish National Opera), and the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden). In future seasons, Ms. Mattila will make appearances as Kostelnička in Jenůfa and Sieglinde in Die Walküre.

    More Info


R. Strauss's Four Last Songs ("Frühling")
Berliner Philharmoniker | Claudio Abbado, Conductor | Karita Mattila, Soprano
Deutsche Grammophon

At a Glance

This concert presents works from the middle and end of Richard Strauss's long career, revealing power and self-confidence in Ein Heldenleben, frivolity and party atmosphere in the suite from Der Rosenkavalier, and mystical contemplation in the Four Last Songs. With its stunning orchestral technology and its numerous references to his earlier tone poems, Ein Heldenleben is a grandiose summation of Strauss's orchestral art. Der Rosenkavalier is a lighter, wittier work, an homage to Mozartian comedy, but it too features a lush orchestra. By contrast, the Four Last Songs—Strauss's farewell to the world—are refined and intimate, a final reminder that Strauss's achievement as a song composer equaled his legacy as the master of the tone poem.
Program Notes
The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the Rosalind and Eugene J. Glaser Foundation and James Thurmond Smithgall in support of the 2013-2014 season.