CSO: Perlman Plays Bruch

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Krzysztof Urbański, conductor
Itzhak Perlman, violin

Saturday, August 17, 2019
4:30 PM
Donor Gates Open
5:00 PM
Public Gates Open
7:30 PM
Concert Starts

Tickets: $125 / $35
Lawn: $10

Join the Ravinia Associates Board’s “Strings & Wings” event on August 17 at 5:00 p.m. Tickets to this event include a reserved space on the Lawn; delicious wings, slaw, chips, and ice cream from Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap; and the evening’s performance. Tickets are $46 per person. Buy your tickets by August 10 here.


Kilar:   Orawa
Bruch:   Violin Concerto No. 1
Mussorgsky (orch. Ravel):   Pictures at an Exhibition

About The Artist


Program Notes

  • This may be the first time you’re hearing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing the music of Wojciech Kilar—it’s the CSO’s first performance of his Orawa—but it could be more familiar that you realize. Although Krzysztof Urbański’s Polish countryman primarily wrote film scores in Europe, he broke into English-language movies with Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and later wrote music for Death and the Maiden (Sigourney Weaver), The Ninth Gate (Johnny Depp), and The Pianist (Adrien Brody).
  • The violinist Joseph Joachim, well known for his long friendship with Johannes Brahms, is also closely entwined with the everlasting popularity of Max Bruch’s First Violin Concerto, having helped revise it after its premiere. It may then be a little self-serving, but Joachim, a top violinist in his day, once commented that there are four great German concertos: by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Bruch, whose he characterized as “the richest, the most seductive.”


  • Later in his life, Max Bruch lamented that even though he wrote three violin concertos, whenever soloists sought his input, it was always for the First. It goes to show that composers can hardly choose or predict the popularity of their music! But Bruch clearly had some talent in writing for the instrument, as his second-most popular work is the Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra.
  • For a solid century after Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, French and Russian composers were enamored of using orchestral “colors” for dramatic instrumental storytelling. Perhaps the zenith of common fascination came in 1922 when Serge Koussevitsky commissioned Maurice Ravel to create a new orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky’s solo-piano masterpiece Pictures at an Exhibition.
  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has a long history with Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition: In 1951, the CSO sat before a single microphone with its then-new music director, Rafael Kubelik, and inaugurated the Mercury label’s “Living Presence” series with the fanfare of Pictures’ “Promenade.” The CSO subsequently made another five recordings, each with a different conductor: Fritz Reiner (1957), Seiji Ozawa (1967), Carlo Maria Giulini (1976), Georg Solti (1980), and Neeve Järvi (1989). Each had a unique tempo to the opening “Promenade,” but the CSO’s brass, led by “Bud” Herseth, was a lustrous constant.
  • Krzysztof Urbański made his US conducting debut nearly 10 years ago with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, which he shortly thereafter returned to as its new music director, then the youngest artistic leader of a major orchestra in the country. He then made his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut five years ago on this evening’s stage, earning praise from the Chicago Tribune: “That he is no mere flashy wunderkind of the baton was shown by the freshly invigorated playing he drew from the CSO … [eliciting] musical statements from the orchestra that carried a personal and convincing point of view.”
  • Over his nearly 40 years performing at Ravinia since 1966, Itzhak Perlman has played 20 different violin concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the festival, as well as more than a dozen shorter works for violin and orchestra, including several movie themes arranged specially for Perlman by John Williams.
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