William Tell is an opera in four acts by Rossini. Its libretto was written by Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis, based on Schiller’s drama entitled Wilhelm Tell. The première took place on 3 August 1829 in the Paris opera house. This was Rossini’s last opera. Its length (more than four hours of music) and extraordinary requirements (very high range parts for the singers) make it a rather rarely performed piece. The overture, however, is world famous and often featured in both films and cartoons. It presents the main motifs of the opera, in four parts: a peaceful introductory melody is followed by the depiction of a storm, then a call to the dairy cows written for English horn and finally, the sounds of the cavalry charge which is also the climax of the overture.

Ravel planned to perform his Piano Concerto in G minor himself for the first time, however, since the technical requirements proved to be excessive, he gave up on it and had Marguerite Long play the solo at the première in January 1932. The two artists then set out on a Central European tour and so Piano Concerto in G major was also performed in Hungary: the concert took place on 18 April in the Pest Vigadó.

“The music of a Concerto, in my opinion, should be light-hearted and brilliant, and not aim at profundity and dramatic effects. … I had thought at first of entitling my concerto ‘Divertissement.’ Then it occurred to me that there was no need to do so, because the very title ‘Concerto’ should be sufficiently clear in the matter of characterization. In certain respects this concerto is not unrelated to my Violin Sonata. It has touches of jazz.” This is how Ravel described Piano Concerto in G major to a journalist, however, research has shown that his sentences insisting on the light-heartedness of his work should not be taken at face value. In fact the composer had toiled with the idea of writing a piano concerto already at the beginning of the 1910’s, in order to preserve the memory of his homeland, the Pyrenees in it that he visited almost every summer in later times as well. The two framing movements of Piano Concerto in G major were written using the early notes and sketches of that planned work and so this music probably did mean more than just a brilliant play to Ravel. The slow movement that was composed somewhat later, however, as far as we know now, does not rely on these earlier plans – rather, it may have been inspired by the slow movement in Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet according to Roland Manuel, the first biographer and close friend of Ravel.

The closing piece of our concert will be one of Tchaikovsky’s last compositions. The première of Symphony No. 6 (Pathetique) was on 28th October 1893, only 9 days before the author’s death. The musical piece did not cause a great sensation and had moderate success in Saint Petersburg at the time. However, a few days later, on the day of Tchaikovsky’s death, rumours started spreading that the composer actually wrote of his own passing in this symphony and that’s why he never spoke of the programme of the work. On 14th November a concert in honour of Tchaikovsky was organised where, among other works, Symphony No. 6 was also performed. After the concert, Rimsky-Korsakov wrote, “People actually tend to go crazy for such stories. What moved the audience this time was the fact that the last, sombre movement of the symphony offered itself for a connection to such presentiments. The excellent composition soon became very famous, what’s more, fashionable”. Tchaikovsky wrote of his work as follows, “The form of this symphony will have much that is new, and amongst other things, the finale will not be a noisy allegro, but on the contrary, a long drawn-out adagio. You can’t imagine how blissful I feel in the conviction that my time is not yet passed, and to work is still possible. … [The symphony is now] “coming along. I’m very pleased with its content, but dissatisfied, or rather not completely satisfied, with the instrumentation. To me it would be typical and unsurprising if this symphony were torn to pieces or little appreciated, for it wouldn’t be for the first time that had happened. But I absolutely consider it to be the best, and in particular, the most sincere of all my creations. I love it as I have never loved any of my other musical offspring”.


Rossini: William Tell Overture
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 (Pathetique)

performing artists

Zoltán Fejérvári – piano

Conducted by: Kristóf Baráti

2021-05-01 - 19:30
Zeneakadémia - Budapest, Liszt Ferenc tér 8, 1061
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