The Cleveland Orchestra
Part of: Jörg Widmann
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director and Conductor
Yefim Bronfman, Piano
JÖRG WIDMANN Trauermarsch
MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating before intermission.
Jörg Widmann is the holder of the 2019–2020 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.
In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.
At a Glance
This evening’s concert offers two works of related but differing “explanations.” German composer Jörg Widmann’s Trauermarsch is a piano concerto inspired by a funeral march. It is a complex but moving work by a star contemporary composer, created for the acclaimed artistry of tonight’s soloist, Yefim Bronfman.
Mahler’s big Fifth Symphony begins with the funeral march that inspired Widmann’s work. The symphony continues through anguish, anger, and chaos to something beautiful about love, and then ends in a rip-roaring finale filled with music of exuberant happiness. With his first four symphonies, Mahler offered written explanations to audiences hearing them for the first time. He became famously frustrated that what he’d written seemed only to confuse people, who reacted in bemused bafflement as to what his music might be “about.” By the time of the Fifth Symphony, he all but banned explanations, commenting, “If a composer could say what he had to say in words, he would not bother trying to say it in music.”
The Cleveland Orchestra
Under the leadership of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world, setting standards of extraordinary artistic excellence, creative music making, and community programming. The New York Times has declared it “the best in America” and “America’s most understatedly amazing orchestra” for the group’s virtuosity, humility, self-confidence, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion. Having celebrated its 100th birthday year in 2018, The Cleveland Orchestra is making its mark as a decidedly 21st-century ensemble, dedicated to serving its hometown and the art of music with focused traditions and innovative initiatives.
The 2019–2020 season features a festival that explores art and censorship, centered around Berg’s opera Lulu (May 2020), as well as a pairing of works by Schubert and Prokofiev, including both well-known and rarely played pieces. Other recent festivals and opera presentations have included a made-for-Cleveland production of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (January 2019), The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde (April 2018), Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (May 2017), and an innovative presentation of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (May 2014, with encore performances in Cleveland and Europe in 2017). Earlier festival explorations saw Mr. Welser-Möst re-examining Beethoven’s symphonies (The Prometheus Project, presented in Cleveland, Vienna, and Tokyo), as well as pairings of Beethoven with Shostakovich and John Adams with Bruckner.
The Cleveland Orchestra’s partnership with Mr. Welser-Möst, begun in 2002 and entering its 18th year with the 2019–2020 season, has earned the ensemble unprecedented residencies in the US and around the world, including one at the Musikverein in Vienna—the first of its kind by an American orchestra—and regular performances at the Salzburg Festival. The orchestra and Mr. Welser-Möst traveled to Asia in spring 2019, and they return to Europe with performances in Vienna and Paris in spring 2020.
The Cleveland Orchestra has a long and distinguished recording and broadcast history. A series of CD recordings and Clasart Classic DVDs under the direction of Mr. Welser-Möst continues to add to an extensive and widely praised catalog of recordings made during the tenures of the ensemble’s earlier music directors. In addition, Cleveland Orchestra concerts are heard around the world online via weekly broadcasts and streaming on WCLV/ideastream in Cleveland.
Seven music directors—Nikolai Sokoloff, Artur Rodziński, Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Franz Welser-Möst—have guided and shaped the ensemble’s growth and sound since its founding in 1918. Through concerts at home and on tour, via radio broadcasts and a catalog of acclaimed recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra is heard today by a broad and growing group of fans around the world. Visit clevelandorchestra.com for more information.
Franz Welser-Möst is among today’s most distinguished conductors. The 2019–2020 season marks his 18th year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, with the future of this acclaimed partnership extending into the next decade. Under his direction, the orchestra has been repeatedly praised for its extraordinary music making, inventive programming, ongoing support for new musical works, and innovative approach to semi-staged and staged opera presentations. An imaginative approach to juxtaposing newer and older works in concert and as festivals has opened new dialogue and fresh insights for musicians and audiences alike.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys a particularly close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. He has twice appeared on the podium for its celebrated New Year’s Concert, and regularly conducts the orchestra in subscription concerts at Vienna’s Musikverein, as well as on tours to Japan, China, Australia, and the US. In addition, Mr. Welser-Möst and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra have performed together at historical memorial concerts in Sarajevo and Versailles. Guest-conducting appearances in the 2019–2020 season include performances of Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena at Teatro alla Scala, and concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Welser-Möst is also a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival, where his work leading a series of opera performances has been widely acclaimed.
Mr. Welser-Möst’s recordings and videos have won major international awards and honors, including a Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or, Japanese Record Academy Award, and two Grammy nominations. With The Cleveland Orchestra, his recordings include a number of DVDs on the Clasart Classic label, featuring live performances of five of Bruckner’s symphonies, a multi-DVD set of major works by Brahms (featuring Yefim Bronfman and Julia Fischer as soloists), and Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem. A number of his Salzburg opera productions, including Der Rosenkavalier, have been released internationally on DVD by Unitel.
In June 2019, Mr. Welser-Möst was awarded the Gold Medal in the Arts by the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts in recognition of his long-lasting impact on the international arts community. Other honors include the Pro Arte Europapreis for his advocacy and achievements as a musical ambassador, recognition from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, and the Kilenyi Medal from the Bruckner Society of America.
Russian-American pianist Yefim Bronfman is regarded as one of today’s most talented piano virtuosos, praised for his technique and lyricism, and in demand for performances around the world. He made his Cleveland Orchestra debut in April 1986, and has returned regularly since then for musical collaborations with the ensemble in Cleveland and on tour.
As a guest artist, Mr. Bronfman performs with the world’s most esteemed ensembles, from North America’s major orchestras to those of Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Israel, London, Paris, Vienna, and Zurich, among others. He is a frequent guest at international festivals, and has served as an artist-in-residence at Carnegie Hall, the Staatskapelle Dresden, and the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics, as well as artiste étoile in Switzerland.
A devoted chamber musician, Mr. Bronfman has collaborated with a number of noted string quartets, as well as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has performed with acclaimed recital partners who include Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell, Magdalena Kožená, Yo-Yo Ma, Jean-Pierre Rampal, and Pinchas Zukerman, and has regularly presented solo recitals across Asia, Europe, and North America.
Mr. Bronfman’s recordings are highly praised. He is featured on The Cleveland Orchestra’s recent DVD release performing both Brahms piano concertos with Franz Welser-Möst at Severance Hall. His album of Bartók’s three piano concertos won a 1997 Grammy Award, and his album featuring Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto and his recording of Magnus Lindberg’s Second Piano Concerto both received Grammy nominations. His discography also includes the complete Prokofiev piano sonatas and concertos, Beethoven’s five piano concertos and Triple Concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and sonatas by Bartók, Brahms, and Mozart recorded with Isaac Stern.
Yefim Bronfman was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. After moving to Israel with his family in 1973, he worked with Arie Vardi at Tel Aviv University. Following his family’s relocation to the United States in 1976, he studied at the Curtis Institute, The Juilliard School, and Marlboro. His teachers included Rudolf Firkušný, Leon Fleisher, and Rudolf Serkin. In 1991, he returned to Russia for the first time since emigrating to perform a series of recitals with Isaac Stern. Visit yefimbronfman.com for more information.