23 May 2017: Myaskovsky, Strauss, Brahms



© David Fisher

Conductor: Philip Ellis

Tuesday 23rd May 2017 at 7.30pm
St John’s Smith Square, London


– Myaskovsky Symphony no.21
– Strauss Tod und Verklärung
– Brahms Symphony no.3

Myaskovsky produced a total of 27 symphonies, having studied under Lyadov and Rimsky-Korsakov at the St Petersburg Conservatoire. A lifelong friend of Prokofiev, he taught at the Moscow Conservatoire from 1921 to 1950, only falling foul of the Communist Party’s savage onslaught on ‘formalism’ in 1948. The 21st Symphony, in a single movement, was commissioned by Frederick Stock, conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and first performed in Moscow in November 1940. The symphony has echoes of Rimsky-Korsakov and William Walton, and presents many challenges as well as moments of lyrical beauty for the orchestra.

Remarkably, Tod und Verklärung and Brahms’ third Symphony were both written in the same decade, with Strauss in his mid-twenties and Brahms in his fifties. As Strauss described it, Tod und Verklärung represents “the dying hours of a man who had striven towards the highest idealistic aims” who relives his past life, and whose soul leaves his body to achieve his artistic ambitions. Brahms’ third symphony has a similar sense of thematic cross-reference to Tod und Verklärung, particularly evident in the reflective Finale.

Tickets available from St John’s Smith Square or may be obtained from orchestra members.

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