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Munich Philharmonic

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Schubert anointed his Fourth Symphony “Tragic,” but this might be the affectation of a young Romantic, since the work owes much to the Classical symphonies of Haydn and Mozart—a fact also reflected in its Classical era–styled orchestration. There’s nothing tragic about Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, where a sense of magic inhabits a radiant work that opens with the earthy sound of ringing sleigh bells and ascends with a child’s song extolling the joys of heaven. There’s also Debussy’s revolutionary Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, the dreamy, subtly colored masterpiece that heralded a new age of music.


Munich Philharmonic
Valery Gergiev, Music Director and Conductor
Genia Kühmeier, Soprano


DEBUSSY Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

SCHUBERT Symphony No. 4, "Tragic"

MAHLER Symphony No. 4

Event Duration

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

At a Glance

The three works on this program have a distinctive subtlety and delicacy. Two—Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Schubert’s Fourth Symphony—come near the beginning of their respective composer’s career. Debussy’s work has a magical atmosphere, “spellbinding and mysterious,” in the words of Pierre Boulez. Its freedom of form and ambiguous harmony make it a landmark in the history of music. The Schubert symphony, written when the composer was only 19, has dashes of Haydn and Beethoven, but also one of Schubert's most heavenly slow movements. The entirety of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, eschewing his usual grandeur and explosiveness, has an idyllic quality—especially in the finale, where the soprano evokes a child’s vision of heaven.


Valery Gergiev

Born in Moscow, Valery Gergiev initially studied conducting under Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory. While still a student, he won the Herbert von Karajan ...

Born in Moscow, Valery Gergiev initially studied conducting under Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory. While still a student, he won the Herbert von Karajan conducting competition in Berlin. In 1978, Yuri Temirkanov appointed him assistant conductor of the Mariinsky Opera, where he made his debut conducting Prokofiev's adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace. In 1988, Maestro Gergiev became music director and, in 1996, artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre (including the Mariinsky Ballet, Mariinsky Opera, and Mariinsky Orchestra). Founder and director of several festivals--including Stars of the White Nights--Maestro Gergiev also served as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 2007 to 2016.

Maestro Gergiev's close cooperation with the Munich Philharmonic began in the 2011-2012 season. Since then, he has performed the complete symphonies of Shostakovich and a cycle of works by Stravinsky with both the Munich Philharmonic and the Mariinsky Orchestra. Since the 2015-2016 season, he has been chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. As Maestro der Stadt ("The City's Maestro"), he reaches out to Munich concert audiences through subscription concerts and performances for young people, public rehearsals, an open-air concert series on the Odeonsplatz, and the MPHIL 360° festival, while reaching an international audience through regular live streams and television broadcasts from the Philharmonie Concert Hall in the Gasteig Cultural Center in Munich.

In September of 2016, the orchestra's own record label, MPHIL, released its first recordings with Maestro Gergiev: Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection," and Bruckner's Symphony No. 4, "Romantic." Further recordings that focus on Bruckner's symphonies are in preparation. Maestro Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic have toured to numerous European cities, as well as Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan.

Munich Philharmonic

The Munich Philharmonic was founded in 1893 and has since vastly enriched Munich's musical life. Even in the orchestra's earliest years, conductors like Hans Winderstein and Felix Weingartner guaranteed the highest level of performance. 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 first Bruckner concerts and established the orchestra's 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 A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture. In the autumn of 1945, the orchestra acquired the services of Hans Rosbaud, an outstanding conductor who strongly supported 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 Munich Philharmonic made its first tour to what was then the USSR. In 1979, Sergiu Celibidache conducted his first series of concerts with the orchestra and was then appointed its general music director later that year. From September 1999 until July 2004, James Levine was the orchestra's chief conductor, winning the prize for the best concert program from the German Music Publishers' Association in the spring of 2003. In January 2004, the Philharmonic made Zubin Mehta the first conductor laureate in the orchestra's history. In May 2003, Christian Thielemann signed a contract as new general music director. He led the orchestra to Japan, Korea, and China in November 2007. These highly successful performances were followed by a repeat tour to Japan for five concerts in May 2010.

January 2009 marked the beginning of a series of concert performances of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier in collaboration with the Festival Theatre in Baden-Baden. Strauss's Elektra followed one year later, and in January 2011, the Philharmonic presented the four symphonies of Johannes Brahms. The orchestra traveled with Conductor Laureate Zubin Mehta in September of 2010 to South America, where it received the praise of both press and public. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Munich world premiere, Maestro Thielemann led two performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 in October 2010. Lorin Maazel assumed the position of chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic in 2012. In his two-year tenure, Maazel expanded the orchestra's repertoire and worked on flexible sounds.

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Genia Kühmeier

Genia Kühmeier was born in Salzburg, where she studied music and vocal pedagogy at the Mozarteum. She later became a member of the Vienna State Opera, where she made her  ...

Genia Kühmeier was born in Salzburg, where she studied music and vocal pedagogy at the Mozarteum. She later became a member of the Vienna State Opera, where she made her tremendously successful debut as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. She started her international career in 2002 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan as Diane in Iphigénie en Aulide. In 2004, Riccardo Muti invited her to perform in Salieri's Europa riconosciuta. At the Salzburg Festival in 2005 and 2006, she sang the role of Pamina, again under the baton of Maestro Muti, and in 2010, she appeared in Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice. In 2011, she made her debut as Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro. Further successes include her portrayal of Sophie in Rosenkavalier, conducted by Christian Thielemann; Ilia in Idomeneo at the Theater an der Wien; and Pamina at the Metropolitan Opera and Teatro alla Scala. In January 2012, she made her debut as Antonia in Les contes d'Hoffmann at Teatro alla Scala, a role that she reprised later at the Opéra Bastille in Paris.

Ms. Kühmeier performs at all of the major international opera houses, and she is a frequent guest performer at renowned concert halls. In the 2016-2017 season, her performances include Mozart's Requiem in Milan, Salzburg, and Munich; Bach's St. John Passion in Vienna; and Schubert's Mass in A-flat Minor in Berlin. She has worked with great conductors such as Seiji Ozawa, Sir Roger Norrington, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Marc Minkowski, Mariss Jansons, Kirill Petrenko, Sir Colin Davis, Marek Janowski, and Sir Simon Rattle.

Her discography includes recordings of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with Riccardo Muti, Haydn's The Creation with William Christie, and Brahms's German Requiem with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. She also has a solo album of songs by Mozart, Schubert, Dvořák, and Strauss, and a forthcoming recording of Carmen.

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