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San Francisco Symphony

Thursday, October 4, 2018 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Michael Tilson Thomas by Spencer Lowell, Leonidas Kavakos by Marco Borggreve
Michael Tilson Thomas had a lifelong relationship with Stravinsky, dating back to performing in Stravinsky's presence during Tilson Thomas's student days in Los Angeles. This all-Stravinsky program promises spectacular orchestral colors, rhythmic vitality, unique melodies, and plenty of excitement. Stravinsky’s ballet Pétrouchka is a thrilling masterpiece where Russian folk tunes enliven brilliant musical tableaux, while the savage rhythms, earthy melodies, and drama of Le sacre du printemps make it a cornerstone of 20th-century music. Another side of Stravinsky shines in his witty Violin Concerto, a four-movement dazzler where pungent harmonies, beautiful song-like passages, and jazzy syncopated rhythms challenge the soloist and captivate the listener.

San Francisco Symphony is also performing October 3

Michael Tilson Thomas is also performing October 3, March 5, March 6, May 1, and May 2.

Leonidas Kavakos is also performing February 6 and March 3.


San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director and Conductor
Leonidas Kavakos, Violin


STRAVINSKY Pétrouchka (1947 version)

STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto

STRAVINSKY Le sacre du printemps


SKALKOTTAS Adagietto from Sonata for Solo Violin

Event Duration

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

Pre-Concert Talk

Pre-concert talk at 7 PM with Ara Guzelimian, Provost and Dean, The Juilliard School.
A Personal Connection with Stravinsky

At a Glance

Stravinsky’s breakthrough to fame arrived when he embarked on a string of collaborations with ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev, whose Ballets Russes—launched in Paris in 1909—quickly became identified with the cutting edge of the European arts scene.

Reflecting on his experience composing Pétrouchka, Stravinsky said, “I had in mind a distinct picture of a puppet, suddenly endowed with life, exasperating the patience of the orchestra with diabolical cascades of arpeggios. The orchestra in turn retaliates with menacing trumpet blasts. The outcome is a terrific noise that reaches its climax and ends in the sorrowful and querulous collapse of the poor puppet.”

The idea that Stravinsky should write a violin concerto was born in the minds of music publisher Willy Strecker and of Polish‑born violinist Samuel Dushkin. However much Stravinsky leaned on Dushkin for help with the violin part, the orchestral sound and the whole idea of how to use solo and orchestra together is unmistakably Stravinsky’s own. His flair for making fresh presentations of the familiar is nowhere so evident in this concerto as in matters of color and texture.

The premiere of Le sacre du printemps on May 29, 1913, and the accompanying riot by the Paris audience catapulted Stravinsky, and modern music, onto a path from which there was no turning back. Stravinsky described the piece’s scenario for its concert premiere: “Le sacre du printemps is a musical choreographic work. It represents pagan Russia and is unified by a single idea: the mystery and great surge of creative power of spring.”

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