Performance Thursday, May 14, 2015 | 8 PM

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s long personal connection with Rachmaninoff includes the premiere of his Third Symphony, music of soulful melody and percussive rhythms. Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto has its roots in the Classical era and its heart in the Romantic. The first movement storms, the finale dances, and the central Largo’s quintessentially Romantic solo writing is sublime. Of soloist Emanuel Ax, The Guardian said his playing is “always marvelously articulate and totally unfussy.”

The contemporary work on this program is part of My Time, My Music.


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
    Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director and Conductor
  • Emanuel Ax, Piano


  • NICO MUHLY Mixed Messages (NY Premiere)
  • BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3
  • RACHMANINOFF Symphony No. 3

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two 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 imagination and innovation on and off the concert stage. The orchestra is transforming its rich tradition of achievement, sustaining the highest level of artistic quality, but also challenging--and exceeding--that level by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world.

    Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been praised by critics and audiences since his inaugural season in 2012. Under his leadership, the orchestra returned to recording with a celebrated CD of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and Leopold Stokowski transcriptions on the Deutsche Grammophon label, continuing its history of recording success. A second disc, of Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with pianist Daniil Trifonov, is due for release next month. The orchestra also reaches thousands of listeners on the radio with weekly Sunday afternoon broadcasts on WRTI-FM.

    Philadelphia is home, and the orchestra nurtures an important relationship with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center, and also with those who enjoy the orchestra's other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn's Landing, and other cultural, civic, and learning venues. The orchestra maintains a strong commitment to collaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level.

    Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the United States. 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 ensemble annually performs at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, while also enjoying summer residencies in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Vail, Colorado.

    The Philadelphia Orchestra has a decades-long tradition of presenting learning and community engagement opportunities for listeners of all ages. The orchestra's recent initiative, the Fabulous Philadelphians Offstage--Philly Style!, has taken musicians off the traditional concert stage and into the community, including highly successful Pop-Up concerts, PlayINs, SingINs, and ConductINs. The orchestra's musicians--in their own dedicated roles as teachers, coaches, and mentors--serve a key role in growing young musician talent and a love of classical music, nurturing and celebrating the wealth of musicianship in the Philadelphia region. For more information, please visit

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin

    Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin continues his inspired leadership of The Philadelphia Orchestra, which began 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. He has taken the orchestra to new musical heights. Highlights of his third season include an Art of the Pipe Organ festival; the 40/40 Project, in which 40 compositions that have not been heard on subscription concerts in at least 40 years will be performed; and Bernstein's Mass, the pinnacle of the orchestra's five-season requiem cycle.

    Yannick has established himself as a musical leader of the highest caliber and one of the most exciting talents of his generation. He has been music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra since 2008, and artistic director and principal conductor of Montreal's Orchestre Métropolitain since 2000. He also continues to enjoy a close relationship with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he was principal guest conductor. He has made wildly successful appearances with the world's most revered ensembles, and he 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 Philadelphia Orchestra returned to recording with a CD on that label of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and Leopold Stokowski transcriptions. He continues a fruitful recording relationship with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra on DG, EMI Classics, and BIS Records; the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir 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 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 Music Award, Canada's National Arts Centre Award, the Prix Denise-Pelletier, and honorary doctorates from the University of Quebec and the Curtis Institute of Music. To read Yannick's full bio, please visit

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  • Emanuel Ax

    Born in Poland, pianist Emanuel Ax moved to Canada with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at The Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America; he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award and also attended Columbia University, where he majored in French. Mr. Ax captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. He won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists in 1975, the same year he made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut. Four years later, he was awarded the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

    In addition to tonight's performance and concerts in Philadelphia, Mr. Ax performs with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin on a tour of Europe. Other highlights include a two-week festival with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, curated by Mr. Ax; return visits to the orchestras of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Montreal, and Ottawa; and recitals in Vancouver, San Francisco, and New York, where he also appears in duo recitals with baritone Simon Keenlyside at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. European highlights include a return to the Berliner Philharmoniker; a tour to Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, and London in performances of Schubert's Winterreise with Mr. Keenlyside; both Brahms piano concertos in Amsterdam and Paris with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Bernard Haitink; and performances with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, and the national orchestras of Toulouse and Lyon.

    Mr. Ax is a Grammy-winning recording artist exclusive to Sony Classical since 1987. His recent releases include Mendelssohn trios with cellist Yo-Yo- Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman; Strauss's Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart; discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman; and Variations, which received the 2013 ECHO Klassik award for Solo Recording of the Year (Piano). Mr. Ax is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds honorary doctorates from Yale and Columbia universities. He resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki. They have two children, Joseph and Sarah. 

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Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 3 (Allegro - Allegro vivace)
The Philadelphia Orchestra | Eugene Ormandy, Conductor
Classical Records

At a Glance

This evening’s program celebrates The Philadelphia Orchestra’s rich history of commissions and world premieres, with the New York premiere of Nico Muhly’s Mixed Messages and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3, which the Philadelphians premiered in 1936 with Leopold Stokowski on the podium and recorded three years later with the composer conducting.

At age 33, Muhly is widely hailed as one of the most promising composers of our time, recognized for the eclecticism of the musical styles he brings to his compositions. He has been involved with popular as well as avant-garde music, with film and opera, and has written formidable choral and orchestral scores. The one-movement Mixed Messages, composed earlier this year, further explores his wide range of interests and inspirations.

Between 1927 and 1941, The Philadelphian Orchestra gave five significant world premieres of pieces by Rachmaninoff—including the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the Third Symphony, and the Symphonic Dances—and also made historic recordings together with the composer either conducting or featured as piano soloist. During the latter part of his career, Rachmaninoff confessed that he often wrote with the sound of the Philadelphians in his head, which one senses when hearing the sumptuous string writing of the Third Symphony.

In between the Muhly and Rachmaninoff pieces we hear Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, a work that had a somewhat turbulent first performance in Vienna in 1803, at least from the point of view of the page-turner Beethoven enlisted, who later recalled being confronted with a practically empty manuscript: “At the most on one page or the other a few Egyptian hieroglyphs wholly unintelligible to me were scribbled down to serve as clues for him.” Beethoven, as usual pressed for the performance deadline, had not had time to notate more than a few reminders and played mainly from memory.
Program Notes
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This performance is part of Beethoven and Brahms, and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

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