Programme

Richard Strauss: Macbeth – symphonic poem, Op. 23

Richard Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks – symphonic poem, Op. 28

Richard Strauss: Suite from Der Rosenkavalier (compiled by Franz Welser-Möst)

Richard Strauss is a composer whose music combines intellectualism and erudition with pleasure-seeking and the ability to overwhelm the listener. On first hearing, listeners are captivated by the brilliance of external effects; then they are drawn into the depths hidden beneath the surface.

Conductor Franz Welser-Möst has devoted himself to Strauss’s music his entire life, and he regards it as a key part of his repertoire. This is one reason why he has chosen to perform Macbeth, one of Strauss’s less familiar tone poems, at the Dvořák Prague Festival. On the other hand, another of Strauss’s tone poems, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, is definitely an evergreen with its catchy French horn theme. The suite from the opera Der Rosenkavalier shows Strauss as a composer of infinite imagination, able to express the erotic passion of a night of lovemaking, the hypocrisy of marrying for money, and the emergence of sincere feelings. Even in the orchestral version without voices, this fairytale of Austria in the days of Maria Theresa is tremendously gripping and eloquent, and true love is allowed to triumph, at least for a moment.

Performers

The Cleveland Orchestra

Now entering its second century, The Cleveland Orchestra, under the leadership of Franz Welser-Möst since 2002, remains one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world. Year after year the ensemble exemplifies extraordinary artistic excellence, creative programming, and community engagement. In recent years, The New York Times has called Cleveland “the best in America” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color and chamber-like musical cohesion, “virtually flawless,” and “one of the finest ensembles in the country (if not the world).”

Founded by Adella Prentiss Hughes, The Orchestra performed its in augural concert in December 1918. By the middle of the century, decades of growth and sustained support had turned the ensemble into one of the most admired around the world.

The past decade has seen an increasing number of young people at- tending concerts, bringing fresh attention to The Cleveland Orchestra’s legendary sound and committed programming. More recently the Orchestra launched several bold digital projects, including the streaming broadcast series In Focus, the podcast On A Personal Note, and its own recording label.

The 2021-22 season marks Franz Welser-Möst’s 20th year as music director, a period in which The Cleveland Orchestra earned unprecedented acclaim around the world, including a series of residencies at the Musikverein in Vienna, the first of its kind by an American orchestra. The Orchestra’s 100th season in 2017-18 featured two international tours, concluding with the presentation of Welser-Möst’s Prometheus Project, featuring works by Beethoven, on three continents.

Its acclaimed opera presentations, including Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (2019), Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (May 2017), Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin and Bluebeard’s Castle (April 2016), and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2014 and 2017), have showcased the ensemble’s unique artistry and collaborative work ethic.

Since 1918, 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. Through concerts at home and on tour, broadcasts, and a catalog of acclaimed recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra is heard today by a growing group of fans around the world. For more information, visit clevelandorchestra.com.

(October 2021) Cleveland Orchestra – source: Askonas Holt

Franz Welser-Möst

Franz Welser-Möst is among today’s most distinguished conductors. The 2021-22 season marks his twentieth year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra. With the future of their acclaimed partnership extended to 2027, he will be the longest-serving musical leader in the ensemble’s history. The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s direction to be “America’s most brilliant orchestra,” praising its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion.

With Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra has been acclaimed for its inventive programming, its ongoing support for new musical works, and for its innovative work in presenting semi-staged and staged operas. An imaginative approach to juxtaposing newer and older works has opened new dialogue and fresh insights for musicians and audiences alike. The Orchestra has also been hugely successful in fostering a new and, notably, a young audience. To date, the Orchestra and Welser-Möst have been showcased around the world in nineteen international tours together. In 2020, despite shutdowns caused by the global pandemic, the ensemble launched its own recording label — and new streaming broadcast performances — to continue and extend sharing their artistry globally.

In addition to his commitment to Cleveland, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys a particularly close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic as a guest conductor. He has twice appeared on the podium for their celebrated New Year’s Concert, and regularly leads the orchestra in subscription concerts in Vienna, as well as on tours in Japan, China, Australia, and the United States. Highlights of appearances in recent seasons include performances of Strauss’s Die Aegyptische Helena at Teatro alla Scala, as well as concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He is a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival, where his work leading a series of opera performances has been widely admired. These have included Rusalka, Der Rosenkavalier, Fidelio, Die Liebe der Danae, Aribert Reimann’s Lear, and Strauss’s Salome and Elektra.

From 2010 to 2014, Franz Welser-Möst served as general music director of the Vienna State Opera. His partnership with the company included a wide-ranging repertoire, including a series of critically-praised new productions. Mr. Welser-Möst had earlier led the Zurich Opera across a decade-long tenure, conducting more than forty new productions.

Franz Welser-Möst’s recordings and videos have won major international awards and honors. 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 and a multi-DVD set of major works by Brahms. A number of his Salzburg opera productions, including Der Rosenkavalier, have been released internationally on DVD by Unitel.

In 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 Cleveland Orchestra’s Distinguished Service Award (given during the ensemble’s 100th season celebrations for his focus on community and education), a Cleveland Arts Prize citation, the Vienna Philharmonic’s “Ring of Honor” for his personal and artistic relationship with the ensemble, recognition from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, honorary membership in the Vienna Singverein, appointment as an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste, and the Kilenyi Medal from the Bruckner Society of America.

Franz Welser-Möst’s book From Silence: Finding Calm in a Dissonant World was published in Austria in July 2020, under the title Als ich die Stille fand, and rapidly rose to number one on the [German-language] best-seller lists, where it remained through much of 2021. The English version of From Silence was released worldwide in Summer 2021.

Source: Askonas Holt

Place

Rudolfinum, Dvořák Hall

The Rudolfinum is one of the most important Neo-Renaissance edifices in the Czech Republic. In its conception as a multi-purpose cultural centre it was quite unique in Europe at the time of its construction. Based on a joint design by two outstanding Czech architects, Josef Zítek and Josef Schultz, a magnificent building was erected serving for concerts, as a gallery, and as a museum. The grand opening on 7 February 1885 was attended by Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, in whose honour the structure was named. In 1896 the very first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra took place in the Rudolfinum's main concert hall, under the baton of the composer Antonín Dvořák whose name was later bestowed on the hall.