Performance Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | 8 PM

San Francisco Symphony

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Lauded for their “fresh and daring” (The New York Times) approach to repertoire, the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas come to Carnegie Hall with a program that finds an unexpected dialogue between American works and Viennese classics. Quintessential masterpieces for orchestra by Beethoven and Mozart are juxtaposed with the works of American composers Aaron Copland and Steven Mackey.

The contemporary work on this program is part of My Time, My Music.


  • San Francisco Symphony
    Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director and Conductor
  • Jeremy Denk, Piano


  • BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3
  • STEVEN MACKEY Eating Greens
  • MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
  • COPLAND Symphonic Ode

  • Encore:
  • COPLAND "Hoe-Down" from Rodeo

Event Duration

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


  • San Francisco Symphony

    The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) gave its first concerts in December 1911. Its music directors have included Henry Hadley, Alfred Hertz, Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, Pierre Monteux, Enrique Jordá, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt, and, since 1995, Michael Tilson Thomas. The SFS has won such recording awards as France's Grand Prix du Disque, Britain's Gramophone Award, and the Grammy in the US. For RCA Red Seal, Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS have recorded music from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, two Copland collections, a Gershwin collection, Stravinsky ballets (Le sacre du printemps, The Firebird, and Perséphone), and Charles Ives: An American Journey. Their recordings have won 15 Grammys, seven of those for their cycle of Mahler symphonies, available on the Symphony's own label, SFS Media. The recording of John Adams's Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine won a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Some of the most important conductors of the past and recent years have been guests on the SFS podium, among them Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, and Sir Georg Solti, and the list of composers who have led the orchestra includes Stravinsky, Ravel, Copland, and John Adams. The SFS Youth Orchestra, founded in 1980, has become known around the world, as has the SFS Chorus, heard on recordings and on the soundtracks of such films as Amadeus and The Godfather Part III. For two decades, the SFS Adventures in Music program has brought music to every child in grades 1-5 in San Francisco's public schools. SFS radio broadcasts, the first in the US to feature symphonic music when they began in 1926, today carry the orchestra's concerts across the country. In a multimedia program designed to make classical music accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, the SFS has launched Keeping Score on PBS, DVD, radio, and at the website San Francisco Symphony recordings are available at, as is a history of the SFS, Music for a City, Music for the World: 100 Years with the San Francisco Symphony.

    Michael Tilson Thomas

    Michael Tilson Thomas first conducted the San Francisco Symphony in 1974 and has been music director since 1995. A Los Angeles native, he studied with John Crown and Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, becoming music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at 19 and working with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland at the famed Monday Evening Concerts. He was pianist and conductor for Piatigorsky and Heifetz master classes and, as a student of Friedelind Wagner, an assistant conductor at Bayreuth. In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ten days later, he came to international recognition, replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO's associate conductor, then principal guest conductor. He has also served as director of the Ojai Festival, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, a principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and principal conductor of the Great Woods Festival. He became principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988, and now serves as principal guest conductor. For a decade he served as co-artistic director of Japan's Pacific Music Festival, which he and Leonard Bernstein inaugurated in 1990, and he continues as artistic director of the New World Symphony, which he founded in 1988. Mr. Tilson Thomas's recordings have won numerous international awards, and his recorded repertory reflects interests arising from work as conductor, composer, and pianist. His television credits include the New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts, and in 2004 he and the SFS launched Keeping Score on PBS. His compositions include From the Diary of Anne Frank, Shówa/Shoáh (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing), Poems of Emily Dickinson, Urban Legend, Island Music, and Notturno. He is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France, was selected as Gramophone's 2005 Artist of the Year, was named one of America's Best Leaders by US News & WorldReport, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2010 was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

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  • Jeremy Denk

    Jeremy Denk has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, and London. He regularly gives recitals in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and throughout the US. Last season included a return to Carnegie Hall in recital as part of a 13-city tour of the US, as well as a performance of Bach's complete keyboard concertos with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Other recent and upcoming engagements include tours with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. He will also perform and serve as artistic director of the 2014 Ojai Music Festival, for which he is composing the libretto to a semi-satirical opera. Mr. Denk's writings on music have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The New York Times Book Review. His website, "think denk," was recently selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress Web Archives.

    In 2012, Mr. Denk made his debut as a Nonesuch Records artist with a recording that paired works of Beethoven and Ligeti. The disc was named one of the best albums of 2012 by the The New Yorker, NPR, and the Washington Post. His most recent recording is a disc of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, also on Nonesuch. Mr. Denk has a longstanding attachment to the music of Charles Ives, reflected in his acclaimed recording of Ives's two piano sonatas. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2004 and is featured in Henry Cowell's Piano Concerto on the symphony's recent American Mavericks album on SFS Media. Mr. Denk has toured frequently with violinist Joshua Bell, and their album French Impressions, on the Sony Classical label, won a 2012 Echo Klassik award. He also regularly collaborates with cellist Steven Isserlis. Mr. Denk has cultivated relationships with many living composers and has several commissioning projects currently in progress. He lives in New York City. Visit for more information.

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Copland's Symphonic Ode
San Francisco Symphony | Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor
RCA Victor

At a Glance

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72a

The success of the one opera that Beethoven wrote—the work that began as Leonore and came finally to be called Fidelio—arrived slowly and late, and at the cost of immense pain. Of the four overtures that Beethoven composed for the opera, No. 3 is the most popular as a concert piece.

STEVEN MACKEY  Eating Greens

Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the early-1990s, Eating Greens is an uproarious orchestral work in three parts and seven sections. Though it contains elements of subversive humor—the score calls for a cardboard party horn, boom box, and referee's whistle, along with the normal orchestral forces—the work is anything but lightweight, featuring music that is finely crafted and touchingly sincere.

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART  Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503

The C-Major Concerto marks the culmination of a three-year period in which Mozart wrote 12 piano concertos—a series of masterpieces that delight the mind, charm and seduce the ear, and pierce the heart. In K. 503, Mozart's approach to the genre changed subtly, becoming less operatic and more symphonic, and imbued with unprecedented compositional richness. This is one of Mozart's big trumpets-and-drums concertos, with massive gestures and grand sonorities.

AARON COPLAND  Symphonic Ode

The Symphonic Ode was commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky, who as conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra believed passionately in the cause of new music and who had previously presented Copland's Organ Symphony and Piano Concerto, among other compositions. The Ode was one of Copland's favorites among his works: He thought of it as the piece in which he announced that he had achieved maturity as a composer.

Program Notes
Funding for the Carnegie Hall Live broadcast series is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Additional support for this Carnegie Hall Live broadcast is provided by Macy*s.
The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Richard A. Debs in support of the 2013-2014 season.

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