Performance Saturday, February 27, 2016 | 8 PM

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Conductor Valery Gergiev’s interpretation of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung has been called “insightful and electrifying” (The New York Times) and “beautiful” (The Guardian). Gergiev leads one of the legendary Wagner orchestras, the Vienna Philharmonic, in dramatic selections from the final opera in the Ring tetralogy. Wagner’s vivid orchestral depictions of the breaking dawn, Siegfried’s journey on the Rhine, his murder and devastating funeral march, and Brünnhilde’s noble and stirring immolation scene are dramatic climaxes of the opera. Like Wagner, Mussorgsky also painted a vivid picture of early morning in the atmospheric prelude to his epic opera Khovanshchina. The orchestra’s virtuosity is also on display in a new work titled Masaot / Clocks Without Hands by Olga Neuwirth and co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall.


  • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    Valery Gergiev, Conductor
  • Heidi Melton, Soprano


  • MUSSORGSKY Prelude to Khovanshchina
  • NEUWIRTH Masaot / Clocks Without Hands (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • WAGNER Selections from Götterdämmerung
    ·· Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey
    ·· Siegfried's Death and Funeral March
    ·· Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 90 minutes, including one 20-minute 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.

    Since its inception by Otto Nicolai in 1842, the fascination that the orchestra has held for prominent composers and conductors, as well as for audiences all over the world, is based not only on a homogenous musical style carefully bequeathed from one generation to the next, but also on its unique history and structure. The foremost ruling body of the organization is the orchestra itself.

    In accordance with philharmonic statutes, only a member of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra can become a member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Before joining the philharmonic, one must first audition for a position with the State Opera Orchestra and then successfully complete a three-year period before becoming eligible to submit an application for membership in the association of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

    The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performs approximately 110 concerts every season at home, presents Vienna Philharmonic weeks in New York and Japan, and has participated in the Salzburg Festival since 1922. The orchestra makes yearly guest appearances in leading concert halls and festivals around the world; presents the New Year's Concert, which is broadcast internationally in more than 90 countries; and presents the free Summer Night Concert Schönbrunn, which is attended annually by up to 100,000 people.

    In 2014, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra received the coveted Birgit Nilsson Prize for outstanding achievements and major contributions to the field of opera/concert, as well as the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize. Since 2008, Rolex has been the Exclusive Sponsor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

    The philharmonic's mission is to communicate the humanitarian message of music to its listeners. For more than a decade, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has given benefit concerts in support of humanitarian causes around the world, and since 2012 has been Goodwill Ambassador for IIASA, an international scientific institute based in Austria that conducts research into humanity's most pressing problems.

    The musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra endeavor to implement the motto with which Ludwig van Beethoven prefaced his Missa solemnis: "From the heart, to the heart."

    Valery Gergiev

    Valery Gergiev returns to Carnegie Hall for three concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra that feature music from Richard Wagner's Parsifal, Götterdämmerung, and Der fliegende Holländer. A frequent visitor to Carnegie Hall, Mr. Gergiev is known for his cycles of works by Berlioz, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, and many others, which he has performed with the Mariinsky Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. From Carnegie Hall, he travels with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to South America.

    Now in his first full season as music director of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, he has already presented a cycle of the five Prokofiev piano concertos in one day, led masterworks such as Mahler's Symphony No. 2, and recently returned from a tour of Asia with the orchestra. In previous years as music director designate, he implemented the performance of all 15 Shostakovich symphonies, as well as cycles of works by Stravinsky.

    Having completed a nine-year tenure as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, which included many recordings and international tours, Mr. Gergiev now concentrates on leading the legendary Mariinsky Theater, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Stars of White Nights, Moscow Easter, and Rotterdam Philharmonic Gergiev festivals. In 1998, he followed Sir Georg Solti as principal conductor of the World Orchestra of Peace, a position he continues in today.

    Valery Gergiev was born in Moscow and studied conducting with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory. As a student, he won the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in Berlin. In 1978, at the age of 24, he became assistant conductor to Yuri Temirkanov at the Mariinsky Theater, where he made his debut with Prokofiev's War and Peace. In 2003, he became the first Russian conductor since Tchaikovsky to conduct Carnegie Hall's Opening Night Gala. His recordings on LSO Live and the Mariinsky label have been acclaimed worldwide. Today he is a popular guest on all the great stages of Europe, Asia, and the Americas, including at the Salzburg Festival and the Metropolitan Opera.

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  • Heidi Melton

    In the 2015-2016 season, dramatic soprano Heidi Melton makes her Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra debut singing Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung under the baton of Valery Gergiev, both in Vienna at the Musikverein and tonight at Carnegie Hall. She also made her New York Philharmonic debut with Alan Gilbert in Strauss lieder and Act III of Die Walküre as Brünnhilde. For the Hong Kong Philharmonic with Jaap van Zweden, she sang Sieglinde in complete concert performances of Die Walküre, which were recorded by Naxos. She returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Venus/Elisabeth in Tannhäuser with Donald Runnicles, as well as to Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe for her first performances as Isolde in a new Christopher Alden production of Tristan und Isolde conducted by Justin Brown. In addition, Ms. Melton debuts at the English National Opera in a new production of Tristan und Isolde conducted by Edward Gardner.

    Symphonic engagements include her Italian debut under Kirill Petrenko with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI in Turin as Gutrune and the Third Norn in a concert performance of Götterdämmerung; at the BBC Proms as Elisabeth in a concert performance of Tannhäuser with Donald Runnicles and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; and performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Jaap van Zweden, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Donald Runnicles, and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal with Kent Nagano in Act I of Die Walküre. Ms. Melton has also appeared with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Act I of Die Walküre and Isolde's Liebestod under Marin Alsop, and Four Last Songs with Markus Stenz; with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in Jan van Gilse's Eine Lebensmesse; at the Festival de Lanaudière singing Elsa in Lohengrin under Yannick Nézet-Séguin with his Orchestre Métropolitain; at the Aspen Music Festival under Robert Spano in Mahler's Symphony No. 8; with the Real Filharmonía de Galicia in Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder under Paul Daniel; and as the soprano soloist in Verdi's Requiem for Donald Runnicles's farewell concert as music director of the San Francisco Opera.

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Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage with Olga Neuwirth in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.


WAGNER Götterdämmerung (Prologue: “O heilige Götter! Hehre Geschlechter!”)
Sir Georg Solti, Conductor | Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra | Vienna State Opera Chorus

At a Glance

The three works on this program—two from the late-19th century and one from 2014—are fascinating examples of how small motifs can expand into expressive structures, some refined, others imposing. Mussorgsky’s exquisite Prelude to Khovanshchina is based on the thematic transformation of a single motif (a method pioneered by Liszt and expanded by Wagner) and has a serene unity, even though the opera it introduces is a violent political drama about the downfall of an old order. Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, the culminating opera in the Ring cycle, also depicts the collapse of an old order, in this case the destruction of the gods. It is the most advanced example of Wagner’s leitmotif system, in which an elaborate series of small themes appear, reappear, reconfigure, and interact with each other, powered by a huge orchestra of mesmerizing colors. Olga Neuwirth’s surreal Masaot / Clocks Without Hands, written for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, also manipulates musical cells. Culled from multiple sources and based on a dream, it combines fragments of melodies from different places and experiences from the life of Neuwirths’s grandfather. The composer compares this stream of memory to a musical “carousel” and to a clock without hands where time seems to dissolve.
Program Notes


Major support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation.
Public support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.
This concert is made possible, in part, by the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation.
This performance is part of International Festival of Orchestras I.

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