Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Press Release

Milwaukee Symphony Prepares for Tchaikovsky’s Emotional Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique”

The Sixth Symphony of Tchaikovsky, his final composition, is saturated with pessimism and despair.

By - Jan 13th, 2016 02:49 pm

MILWAUKEE, WIS. 01/13/2016– The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, led by guest conductor Hans Graf, presents two performances of Tchaikovsky’s passionate Symphony No. 6 “Pathètique” on January 30 at 8:00 p.m. and January 31 at 2:30 p.m. at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Tchaikovsky’s symphony will be paired with Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 as performed by Orli Shaham, who has established an impressive international reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists.

Both concerts include Meet the Music, a free, interactive pre-concert discussion held one hour prior to concert start time in the Anello Atrium. Meaghan Heinrich of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music will lead Meet the Music for this set of performances.

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 by Tchaikovsky: The Sixth Symphony of Tchaikovsky, his final composition, is saturated with pessimism and despair. His range of expression is enormous, and the dynamics stretch from ppppp to ffff. The first movement rises from the murky depths of the introduction with a low bassoon solo over muddy strings. It sounds like the beginning of creation itself – primordial ooze coming slowly and poignantly to life. The soaring principal theme of the second movement is lovingly introduced by muted violins and cellos before it is richly and expansively developed. An orchestral tour de force, the third movement demands dazzling virtuosity and rhythmic precision. The symphony’s final movement is one last cry of despair where the music slowly fades into silence as the cellos and basses have the last mournful word, retreating into the dark underworld in which the whole symphony began.

Piano Concerto No. 3 by Bartók: Bartók’s third piano concerto was one of the master’s last compositions. It dates from 1945, his final year, when he was living in America and suffering from polycythemia, the blood disease that would eventually take his life. Bartók intended the work as a gift for his wife – the gifted pianist Ditta Pásztory –for her upcoming 42nd birthday on October 31, but he died on September 26 with the concerto unfinished. The composer’s friend Tibor Serly completed the final 17 measures of the concerto’s orchestration by drawing from Bartók’s notes.


Hans Graf

Known for his wide range of repertoire and creative programming, the distinguished Austrian conductor Hans Graf is one of today’s most highly respected musicians.

Appointed Music Director of the Houston Symphony in 2001, Mr. Graf concluded his tenure in May 2013 and is the longest serving Music Director in the orchestra’s history. Prior to his appointment in Houston, he was the Music Director of the Calgary Philharmonic for eight seasons and held the same post with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine for six years. He also led the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra from 1984 to 1994.

Hans Graf is a frequent guest with all of the major North American orchestras. In Europe, Mr. Graf has conducted the Vienna and London Philharmonics, Vienna Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra as well as the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra Berlin, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic among others. He is also a regular guest with the Sydney Symphony and the Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Seoul Philharmonics.

Born near Linz, Hans Graf first studied violin and piano. After receiving diplomas in piano and conducting from the Musikhochschule in Graz, he continued his studies in Italy with Franco Ferrara and Sergui Celibadache and in Russia with Arvid Jansons. Mr. Graf has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur by the French government for championing French music around the world as well as the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria.

Orli Shaham

A consummate musician recognized for her grace, subtlety and vitality, Orli Shaham has established an impressive international reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists. Hailed by critics on four continents, Ms. Shaham is in demand for her prodigious skills and admired for her interpretations of both standard and modern repertoire. The Chicago Tribune recently referred to her as “a first-rate Mozartean,” London’s Guardian said Ms. Shaham’s playing at the Proms was “perfection,” and The Winnipeg Free Press declared Ms. Shaham’s piano skills “almost too good to be true.”

Ms. Shaham’s 2014-2015 season is highlighted by the release of a new solo CD, Brahms Inspired, which includes music by Brahms and Chopin, along with new works by Brett Dean, Avner Dorman, and Bruce Adolphe. Highlights of the season include the Aspen Music Festival, Arizona Musicfest, the “Chicago Symphony Presents” series, and concerto performances with Orchestre National de France in Paris, the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Colorado Springs Philharmonic. In addition, Ms. Shaham serves as the Artistic Director for Pacific Symphony’s chamber music series in Costa Mesa, California, a position she has held since 2007, and for the interactive children’s concert series, Baby Got Bach, which she founded in 2010.

Recent concert highlights include Ms. Shaham’s performances of Steve Mackey’s piano concerto Stumble to Grace with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia. The world premiere recording of Stumble to Grace is on Shaham’s CD American Grace, which was released in 2014.


Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique”

Hans Graf, conductor

Orli Shaham, piano

Uihlein Hall, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Saturday, January 30 | 8:00 p.m.

Meet the Music, Anello Atrium | 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 31 | 2:30 p.m.

Meet the Music, Anello Atrium | 1:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $20-$110. Group rates are available. For more information, please call 414.291.7605 or visit Tickets may also be purchased through the Marcus Center Box Office at 414.273.7206.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Edo de Waart, is among the finest orchestras in the nation and the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. Now in his seventh season with the MSO, Maestro de Waart has led sold-out concerts, elicited critical acclaim, and conducted a celebrated performance at Carnegie Hall on May 11, 2012. The MSO’s full-time professional musicians perform over 135 classics, pops, family, education, and community concerts each season in venues throughout the state. Since its inception in 1959, the MSO has found innovative ways to give music a home in the region, develop music appreciation and talent among area youth, and raise the national reputation of Milwaukee.

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