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Boston Symphony Orchestra

Monday, November 19, 2018 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Andris Nelsons and Håkan Hardenberger by Marco Borggreve
Håkan Hardenberger is called on to play trumpet, piccolo trumpet, and cow horn—as well as sing and play simultaneously—in HK Gruber’s marvelously eclectic showpiece that opens the program. Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, a magnificent five-movement journey from despair to joy, is one of his most popular works. He believed that a symphony should embrace the world, and it’s all here: an opening funeral march, folk-inspired dances, a waltz, and exuberantly high spirits in the finale. The unforgettable and unsurpassable heart of the work is the Adagietto, a sublime love letter for strings and harp Mahler wrote for his wife, Alma.

Part of: Carnegie Hall Live on WQXR

Boston Symphony Orchestra is also performing March 19 and March 20.


Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, Music Director and Conductor
Håkan Hardenberger, Trumpet



MAHLER Symphony No. 5

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating before intermission.

Listen on WQXR

Trailer: Håkan Hardenberger & Andris Nelsons in Conversation
Video courtesy of Philharmonia Orchestra (London, UK)
National Endowment for the Arts: arts.gov

Public support for Carnegie Hall Live on WQXR is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

At a Glance

The Viennese composer, conductor, and “chansonnier” HK Gruber—famous worldwide for his own performances of his work Frankenstein!!—wrote his trumpet concerto Aerial for the formidable virtuoso Håkan Hardenberger, who is called upon to play two different types of trumpet, use a rackful of mutes, and even play the cow’s horn in this wildly colorful but occasionally melancholy piece. Hardenberger gave the world premiere of Aerial with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the London Proms in 1999.

Drawing on Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, Gustav Mahler felt it his artistic duty to push the symphony beyond established tradition and into new realms of expression. He completed his first, purely instrumental symphony in 1888 and followed it with the startlingly expansive Wunderhorn triptych—symphonies nos. 2, 3, and 4—which incorporated voice and cross-pollination with the composer’s songs on texts from the folk poetry collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth’s Magic Horn). The purely instrumental Fifth Symphony set off in a new direction that continued with the Sixth and Seventh, both also purely instrumental. Composed in 1901–1902, the Fifth benefited from Mahler’s study of Bach’s and Beethoven’s counterpoint, and also reflected a new emotional presence in his life: that of his future wife, Alma.

The Fifth takes a unique approach to symphonic form. Mahler designates three large parts: Part I comprises the opening Funeral March and the stormy second movement, which is a kind of development of the first. Part II is a big, utterly Austrian, utterly Mahlerian scherzo. Part III encompasses the famously lovely Adagietto for harp and strings (sometimes heard alone, and suggested by some to be a declaration of Mahler’s love for Alma) and the Rondo-Finale, in which Mahler demonstrates his mastery of traditional counterpoint while providing a wide-ranging and delightful conclusion—including an idea that speeds up music from the Adagietto—to the work as a whole.


Andris Nelsons

The 2018–2019 season is Andris Nelsons’s fifth as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the ...

The 2018–2019 season is Andris Nelsons’s fifth as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelsons leads 14 of the BSO’s 26 subscription programs in 2018–2019, ranging from orchestral works by Haydn, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Copland to concerto collaborations with acclaimed soloists, as well as world and US premieres of pieces newly commissioned by the BSO from Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Andris Dzenītis, and Mark-Anthony Turnage; the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra; and concert performances of Puccini’s Suor Angelica. In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, Mr. Nelsons’s contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021–2022 season. In November 2017, he and the orchestra toured Japan together for the first time. In February 2018, he became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, in which capacity he brings both orchestras together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance. Immediately following the 2018 Tanglewood season, Mr. Nelsons and the BSO made their third European tour together, playing concerts in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris, and Amsterdam.

The 15th music director in the history of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons made his BSO debut at Carnegie Hall in March 2011, his Tanglewood debut in July 2012, and his BSO subscription series debut in January 2013. His recordings with the BSO include the complete Brahms symphonies on BSO Classics; Grammy-winning recordings on Deutsche Grammophon of Shostakovich’s symphonies nos. 5, 8, 9, and 10; and a recent two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies nos. 4 and 11, “The Year 1905.”

In 2018–2019—his final season as artist-in-residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund and first season as artist-in-residence at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie—Mr. Nelsons continues his regular collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Berliner Philharmoniker. He also maintains regular collaborations with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Philharmonia Orchestra, and has been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Andris Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2015; principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, from 2006 to 2009; and music director of the Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007.

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Håkan Hardenberger

Håkan Hardenberger is esteemed for his performances of the classical repertoire, and as a pioneer of noteworthy and virtuosic new trumpet works. Conducting has also become an integral  ...

Håkan Hardenberger is esteemed for his performances of the classical repertoire, and as a pioneer of noteworthy and virtuosic new trumpet works. Conducting has also become an integral part of his music-making. His close collaborations with such composers as Mark-Anthony Turnage and HK Gruber led him to explore both their works and related repertoire. Stravinsky became a key composer in Mr. Hardenberger’s evolution as a conductor. Having worked with his students in smaller formations (e.g., Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale), he took on projects with the brass sections of the BBC and Helsinki philharmonic orchestras, leading programs that featured Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments as well as concerts of orchestral works with the Swedish and Lapland chamber orchestras.

Mr. Hardenberger enjoys creating programs inspired by his solo repertoire, spinning musical threads from Haydn to Prokofiev, Hummel to Beethoven to Brett Dean, Stravinsky to HK Gruber, and Takemitsu to Lutosławski. This new aspect of his craft is presented in his latest recording with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Both Sides Now, which features new arrangements for trumpet and strings of music from films. Residencies with the Philharmonia Orchestra, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and Dresdner Philharmonie have included solo performances and conducting opportunities. Recent conducting engagements have included concerts as part of his residency with the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France that featured him leading Magnus Lindberg’s Ottoni for brass ensemble and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition arranged for brass ensemble; he also led the orchestra in Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, “Classical,” and Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin, and performed popular works for trumpet. He has led the Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi on tour in Spain, the RTÉ National Symphony Dublin with pianist Roland Pöntinen, and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra with violinist Baiba Skride. He has also conducted the brass sections of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Spring 2019 brings his debut with the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mr. Hardenberger is artistic director of the Malmö Chamber Music festival. Born in Malmö, Sweden, he began studying the trumpet at age eight with Bo Nilsson, continuing his studies at the Conservatoire de Paris with Pierre Thibaud and in Los Angeles with Thomas Stevens. He is a professor at the Malmö Academy of Music.

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