Performance Sunday, May 11, 2014 | 3 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Czech composer Antonín Dvořák has written many pieces that are mainstays of the orchestral repertoire, infused with exuberant dance rhythms and folk-music influences from his native Bohemia. The MET Orchestra and Music Director James Levine chart a course through the composer's indelible music, including his Seventh Symphony and Carnival Overture. The intrepid ensemble also performs his Cello Concerto in B Minor, a display of dramatic solo and orchestral writing on the largest scale which deftly showcases the timbre of the cello with selected soloists from the orchestra.


  • The MET Orchestra
    James Levine, Music Director and Conductor
  • Lynn Harrell, Cello


  • DVOŘÁK Carnival Overture
  • DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto in B Minor
  • DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 7

  • Encore:
  • BACH "Prelude" from Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007

Event Duration

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


  • The MET Orchestra

    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is regarded as one of the world's finest orchestras. From the time of the company's inception in 1883, the ensemble has worked with leading conductors in both opera and concert performances and has developed into an orchestra of enormous technical polish and style. The MET Orchestra (as the ensemble is referred to when appearing in concert outside the opera house) maintains a demanding schedule of performances and rehearsals during its 33-week New York season, when the company performs seven times a week in repertory that this season encompasses 26 operas.

    Arturo Toscanini conducted almost 500 performances at the Met, and Gustav Mahler, during the few years he was in New York, conducted 54 Met performances. More recently, many of the world's great conductors have led the orchestra: Walter, Beecham, Reiner, Mitropoulos, Kempe, Szell, Böhm, Solti, Maazel, Bernstein, Mehta, Abbado, Karajan, Dohnányi, Haitink, Tennstedt, Ozawa, Gergiev, Barenboim, Muti and Rattle. Carlos Kleiber's only US opera performances were with the MET Orchestra.

    In addition to its opera schedule, the orchestra has a distinguished history of concert performances. Toscanini made his American debut as a symphonic conductor with the Met Orchestra in 1913, and the impressive list of instrumental soloists who appeared with the orchestra includes Leopold Godowsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals, Josef Hofmann, Ferruccio Busoni, Jascha Heifetz, Moritz Rosenthal, and Fritz Kreisler. Since the orchestra resumed symphonic concerts in 1991, instrumental soloists have included Itzhak Perlman, Maxim Vengerov, Alfred Brendel, and Evgeny Kissin, and the group has performed six world premieres: John Harbison's Closer to My Own Life, Milton Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), William Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 (2002), Hsueh-Yung Shen's Legend (2002), and Charles Wuorinen's Theologoumenon (2007) and Time Regained (2009).

    James Levine

    Music Director James Levine has developed a relationship with the Metropolitan Opera that is unparalleled in its history and unique in the musical world today. Since his company debut in 1971, he has led nearly 2,500 performances of 85 operas at the Met both in New York and on tour. This season at the Met he conducted revivals of Così fan tutte and Wozzeck, the new production of Falstaff, three concerts with the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and staged scenes from works by Berlioz, Donizetti, and Mozart, and Stravinsky's one-act Mavra at Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater in a joint project between the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the Juilliard School.

    Maestro Levine inaugurated the Metropolitan Opera Presents television series for PBS in 1977, founded the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in 1980, and returned Wagner's complete Ring to the repertoire in 1989 (in the first integral cycles in 50 years at the Met). He and the MET Orchestra began touring in concert in 1991, and since then have performed around the world, including at Expo '92 in Seville, in Japan, across the United States and Europe, and regularly during and after the opera season here at Carnegie Hall.

    In addition to his responsibilities at the Met, Mr. Levine has been a distinguished pianist and an active and avid recital collaborator, especially in lieder and song repertoire. He began accompanying such artists as Jennie Tourel, Hans Hotter, and Eleanor Steber more than 50 years ago, and since that time has given recitals with most of the great singers of our time. From 1973 to 1993, he was music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; became chief conductor from 1999 to 2004 of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra; and music director from 2000 to 2004 of the Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra. From 2004 to 2011, he was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Between 1996 and 2000, he led more than a dozen concerts on the Three Tenors World Tour, and he was conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the soundtrack of Disney's Fantasia 2000. He has conducted every major orchestra in America and Europe. His most recent recording, James Levine: Live at Carnegie Hall, a live performance CD of his return to the podium last May with the MET Orchestra and Evgeny Kissin, was released earlier this season.

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  • Lynn Harrell

    Lynn Harrell is a frequent guest of many leading orchestras, including the Boston, Chicago, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and National symphony orchestras; New York Philharmonic; The Philadelphia Orchestra; and San Francisco Symphony. In Europe, he partners with the orchestras of London, Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Tonhalle, and Israel. He has also toured extensively to Australia and New Zealand as well as Asia, including Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

    In 2014, Mr. Harrell celebrates his 70th birthday with extensive tours to Germany, Brazil, Italy, Australia, Canada (Nova Scotia), and China, making appearances in recitals, master classes, and chamber performances along the way. In addition to today's concert with the MET Orchestra, he also appears in the US in Los Angeles, Oregon, Atlanta, and Texas, as well as in return engagements at the festivals of Meadowmount, La Jolla, Ventura, Verbier, Eastern Music, and Aspen. Last season, Mr. Harrell premiered Augusta Read Thomas's new cello concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Detroit and Edmonton symphony orchestras, and toured Europe with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

    Mr. Harrell's extensive discography of more than 30 recordings includes the complete Bach cello suites (London/Decca), the world-premiere recording of Victor Herbert's Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields led by Sir Neville Marriner (London/Decca), the Walton Concerto with Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (EMI), and the Donald Erb Concerto for Brass and Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony (New World). Together with Itzhak Perlman and Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mr. Harrell was awarded two Grammy Awards. He has recently recorded Tchaikovsky's Variations for Cello and Orchestra on a Rococo Theme, Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 2, and Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under the baton of Gerard Schwarz (Classico).

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Dvořák's Cello Concerto in B Minor
London Symphony Orchestra | James Levine, Conductor | Lynn Harrell, Cello
RCA Red Seal

At a Glance

Raised in a small Bohemian village outside Prague, Antonín Dvořák came from neither a wealthy family nor a particularly musical one. His eventual rise to international stardom as a composer is one of music history's more unlikely success stories. The turning point came in 1877, when he came to the attention of Johannes Brahms, who was so taken with Dvořák's music that he arranged for it to be published in Berlin. Soon, after the spectacular success of the Slavonic Dances—which caused "a positive assault on the sheet-music shops"—Dvořák was a star, with more commissions and performance opportunities coming his way than he could possibly handle.

The three works on this afternoon's program—the lively, colorful Carnival Overture, the solemn and sharply chiseled Seventh Symphony, and the yearningly beautiful, folk music-inspired Cello Concerto—date from the decade between 1885 and 1895, the height of Dvořák's international popularity and artistic achievement. By the beginning of that span, the composer was famous throughout the Habsburg Empire, had achieved massive success in England, and was endorsed by the musical elite, yet, on account of the unaffected and folk-inflected nature of his music, was still revered in his homeland as an authentic Bohemian voice. By the end of it, he was also a celebrity in the United States, having spent the years 1892-1895 in New York, where he composed—and premiered at Carnegie Hall—some of his most famous music.
Program Notes
This performance is part of The MET Orchestra.