Russian Masterworks

Valery Gergiev - Conductor


Stravinsky - Symphony in C

Shostakovich - Symphony No. 9


Prokofiev - Symphony No. 5

Thursday, February 12, 2015

8:00 pm Verizon Hall

Who better to conduct some of the treasures of the Russian repertoire than Valery Gergiev in his only American symphonic guest conducting appearances this season? Written within seven years of each other, these three symphonies together illustrate how three giants of 20th-century Russian music responded to the upheaval of World War Two. Stravinsky’s Symphony in C was written between 1938 and 1940, as the composer endured illnesses and death in his family. The War forced him to emigrate from Europe, and he finished the piece in Hollywood. Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony was originally conceived as a celebration of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany, but it evolved into a much lighter style by the time he finished it in 1945. It fell afoul of Soviet censors and was banned from 1948 to 1955. Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony enjoyed a much happier reception from its premiere in 1945, and it has remained one of his most popular pieces. With the end of the War in sight, the Symphony takes an optimistic look at the future for the war-ravaged peoples of Europe. Gergiev and The Philadelphia Orchestra will bring the Russian soul of these pieces to life.

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program notes

Christopher Gibbs, professor of music at Bard College

Pre-Concert Conversations