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The Philadelphia Orchestra

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Yannick Nézet-Séguin by Todd Rosenberg
Throughout this landmark season at Carnegie Hall, The Philadelphia Orchestra performs a complete cycle of Beethoven’s nine immortal symphonies. This evening’s all-Beethoven program features the composer’s Fourth and Sixth symphonies—an elegant combination from which Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin teases brilliant subtleties. Even today, the Fourth Symphony is often overlooked—likely due to its proximity to two of Beethoven’s most thunderous creations. With its generally cheerful demeanor, it pairs perfectly with the Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral,” a work full of evocative imagery that transports listeners to scenes of nature.

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The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director and Conductor



Symphony No. 4

Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral"

At a Glance

In March 2020, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Carnegie Hall were about to embark on a cycle of Beethoven’s nine symphonies to mark the composer’s 250th anniversary. The COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down the day of the first concert. It is with a renewed sense of celebration and gratitude that we present the cycle of these transformational compositions over the next few months as a belated birthday present.

Robert Schumann remarked that Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony was like a “slender Grecian maiden between two Nordic giants.” And yes, the work is certainly overshadowed by its mighty neighbors, the magnificent “Eroica” Symphony and the monumental Fifth. Beethoven’s contemporaries, however, viewed the Fourth as yet another one of the composer’s challenging innovations that changed forever the genre of the symphony.

After the famous Fifth, Beethoven took another track in his next symphony, looking for inspiration in nature that he so adored. A few weeks after composing the “Pastoral” Symphony, he declared: “No one can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees, and rocks produce the echo which man desires to hear.” This is Beethoven’s most explicitly programmatic composition, filled with bird calls, a burbling brook, country dancing, a mighty thunderstorm, and a concluding hymn of thanksgiving.

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