In 1804, Beethoven was asked to write an opera by the Intendant of the Vienna Opera House, and it was in response to this request that the opera Leonora was written a year later. The première was delayed for various reasons, so Beethoven rewrote the overture and premièred the work in this second version. The opera was not a success, and after three performances it failed and was taken off the programme. In 1806, Beethoven revisited the work, reworked the opera and changed the overture, thus producing its third version, which was to become and is still known as Leonore Overture No. 3. Unfortunately, this version of the opera was not very popular either, and after a few performances it was dropped from the programme again. Beethoven had to wait eight years for its triumph, and in 1814 he reworked the piece again, this time under the title Fidelio, the overture again falling victim to the revision, as the composer himself found it too grandiose and over-dramatic for the opera. The new version of the opera, with its new overture, was finally a success. The Leonore Overture No. 3, however, has survived the centuries, and is still frequently performed as an independent work in concerts. The overture is a condensed summary of the opera in symphonic form: Leonore disguises herself as a man in order to free her beloved husband who has been unjustly imprisoned. The overture begins in dark tones, and then brightens up to finally proclaim triumphant victory.
Haydn is a great master of Viennese Classicism, who left behind a rich oeuvre. Still very popular, his works are regularly performed in concerts in our day. Tonight, Budafok Dohnányi Orchestra will perform the overture to his perhaps lesser-known opera L’incontro improvviso. This work is the sixth of Haydn’s 13 operas, written in 1775 for the private theatre of the Eszterházy court. It is set in the Middle East and has an oriental theme. And although it is not one of his most successful works, its overture is very popular and has everything to make you love Haydn’s works.
The concert will be followed by Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D major. The work is known as the ‘Coronation Concerto’, because Mozart played it in October 1790 in Frankfurt during the Coronation celebrations. The concerto is closely related to the piano concerto series of 1784-86. It is perhaps only in this concerto that the role of the piano is more pronounced; and the very first theme of the piece was modelled in this spirit by the composer. In the development of the first movement, Mozart provides a compendium of all that the solo instrument had achieved in this genre, and the maximum of what the piano technique of the time could demand. The slow movement, although we have encountered the type several times in Mozart’s Andantes, is again unique in its kind, with its crystalline calm, and nobility: it is like a still lake with clear waters. The theme of the concluding Rondo is also specifically for piano, but the composer has invested such painstaking artistry in the shaping and execution of this movement that it is not only worthy of the solemn act of the Coronation, but also of the standards of Mozart’s mature period. This evening the concerto will be performed with Anna Maria Kokits playing the piano.
Schubert left behind five unfinished symphonies, of which Symphony No.7 is the only one that was structurally complete, and for each movement Schubert prepared sketches and orchestrated the slow introduction to the work. He then set the work aside to write an opera, and ultimately never got back to it again. Over the centuries, many attempts have been made to make this symphony accessible to the public, and tonight the orchestra will play the version that was completed by Austrian composer Richard Dünser and conductor Mario Venzago. This version is also special because the less inspiring middle movement has been replaced by musical sketches by Schubert from the year of his death. The result is the grandiose work known as Symphony No. 7, which is being performed in this form for the first time in Hungary this evening.