The Hungarian National Philharmonic's Beethoven Concerts
Rain date: 18 July
Beethoven: King Stephen Overture, op. 117
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, op. 125
Conductor: Gergely Vajda
Eszter Sümegi – soprano
Atala Schöck – alto
Tibor Szappanos – tenor
Krisztián Cser – bass
Hungarian National Choir (choirmaster: Csaba Somos)
Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra
Hungarian music lovers always take pleasure in listening to Beethoven’s King Stephen Overture (1811). This is not only because the incidental music written for a Kotzebue play – the overture constituted the opening movement – was composed by Beethoven for the inauguration of the German Theatre of Pest, but also because the composer paid tribute to his “mustachioed Hungarian friends” with the piece’s noble verbunkos melodies. Symphony No. 9 (1824), Beethoven’s last completed symphony, is a major work of Western culture, on a par with Bach’s St. Matthew Passion or Mozart’s The Magic Flute, in that in addition to its aesthetic value, it also helped define timeless moral standards. The finale, which employs both choir and soloists, combines the genres of oratorio and symphony. Beethoven’s setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy to music is a paean to not only joy itself, but also to love and liberty.
The career of conductor, composer and clarinetist Gergely Vajda (b.1973) developed in the United States as the head of the Milwaukee, Oregon and Huntswille symphony orchestras, though the artist has always remained in constant and close contact with Hungarian music.