Göteborgs Konserthus Night of the Giants

A brilliant supernova with the Gothenburg Symphony, Herbert Blomstedt conductor and Maria João Pires piano.

Concert length: 1 h 45 min incl. intermission Scene: Stora salen
380-540 SEK Student 190-270 SEK Youth up to 29 190-270 SEK

Two stars collide and form a supernova in tonight’s concert. Herbert Blomstedt conducts and the masterful Maria João Pires is the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. To conclude, we hear the symphony in which Brahms paid tribute to single life on the theme “free but happy”. 

When Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires takes her place on stage, musical magic occurs. Here she tackles Beethoven’s poetic, dramatic and playful 4th Piano Concerto. We also hear Brahms’ nature-inspired and melodically expressive third symphony, all conducted by the legendary Herbert Blomstedt. 

Maria João Pires has a long career behind her and is a star pianist in the true sense of the word. With her amazing touch and concentrated musicality, she can make a simple chord open up a whole universe of emotions. We hear that when she tackles Beethoven’s 4rth Piano Concerto. It begins with some quietly searching major chords, just a few measures, which Beethoven then develops into a magnificent musical masterpiece. 

As a conclusion, we get Brahms’s Third Symphony. It opens with the motif F –Ab – F, which alludes to Brahms’ personal motto “Frei-Aber-Froh” – free but happy.
Most famous is the lovingly soft third movement in three-eighth time. 

Thanks to a generous support from the Stena Foundation, we get to experience Maria João Pires in this concert.


Get to know the classical pieces.

Introduction to the concert

Take a seat in the Great Hall one hour before the concert begins and learn more about the music you will soon experience! You will get the stories behind the music, knowledge of the composers and own reflections about the classical pieces. The introduction last for about 30 minutes, it is free and free seating in the hall. Warm welcome!


Beethoven Piano Concerto No 4 34 min

Intermission 25 min

Brahms's third symphony boasts one of the most beautiful romantic themes ever written: the allegretto in C minor, which with its easy three-beat chords resonates with most discerning people. In modern times, it became known as the theme of the Ingrid Bergman film Do you like Brahms... (1961) after Françoise Sagan's short story Aimez-vous Brahms? as it is more affectionately called in the original. Brahms's third symphony was inspired by nature, he created best with the greenery in the knots. He had inherited the strategy of Beethoven and other predecessors: work as a pianist, musician and teacher from fall to spring, compose in the summer. For Brahms it became a way of life. Mahler followed the same model. Originally, Brahms had intended to spend the summer in Bad Ischl, but plans changed when he found seclusion and inspiration in the German city of Wiesbaden, an old health resort, where he arrived after a journey along the Rhine. It is clear that Brahms wrote the symphony under happy circumstances this summer of 1883. Was he in love? Always in Clara Schumann. After playing through the symphony in the version for two pianos, she wrote to Brahms: "All the movements seem to form a unity, like a heartbeat." The symphony is a salute to her and a tribute to her late husband Robert Schumann, Brahms' mentor and friend. The very introduction to the symphony - which opens up like a wonderful view when one reaches a high altitude after a long hike among pines and firs - is not a little reminiscent of the introduction to Schumann's "Rhine Symphony" (the third). The mentioned allegretto also has similarities with the romance in Schumann's fourth symphony, which Brahms published in the original version at his own expense after the composer's death. Brahms also makes an ironic comment on the ongoing feud between Brahms followers (traditionalists) and Wagnerians (new German school) - three notes in horn and oboe at the end of the first movement. Do you recognize it? That's right, Tristan and Isolde. Wagner had died in February of that year… STEFAN NÄVERMYR

Wednesday 20 December 2023: The event ends at approx. 21.15
Thursday 21 December 2023: The event ends at approx. 21.15


The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1905 and currently consists of 109 musicians. The orchestra is based in Gothenburg Concert Hall – a gem of functionalism on Götaplatsen square that has enchanted music lovers since 1935. Wilhelm Stenhammar was the orchestra’s Chief Conductor from 1907 until 1922. He gave the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra a strong Nordic profile and invited his colleagues Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius to collaborate with the orchestra. Under the leadership of Chief Conductor Neeme Järvi between 1982 and 2004, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra undertook a number of international tours and made a hundred or so album recordings while establishing itself as one of Europe’s foremost orchestras. In 1997 the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra received the title of the National Orchestra of Sweden. Since season 2017-2018 Santtu-Matias Rouvali is Chief Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Since season 2019-2020 Barbara Hannigan is Principal Guest Conductor. Christoph Eschenbach was also Principal Guest Conductor of Gothenburg Symphony in the years 2019-2022 – together they formed a strong three-leaf clover consisting of three completely different types of artists. We are also extremely proud to be an official partner of soprano Barbara Hannigan’s mentor initiative Equilibrium, with focus on young singers and musicians who are just beginning their careers. Sten Cranner is the orchestra’s CEO and Artistic Director, while Gustavo Dudamel holds the title of Honorary Conductor and Neeme Järvi that of Principal Conductor Emeritus. Region Västra Götaland is owner of the orchestra. The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra works regularly with conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, Joana Carneiro, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Christian Zacharias and Anja Bihlmaier.

Despite his record-breaking age, Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt, born in 1927, continues to be one of the world's most sought-after conductors. He has been a regular and much-appreciated guest conductor with the Gothenburg Symphony since 1954 and is also named Honorary symphonic. During his career, Herbert Blomstedt has been chief conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, the NDR Orchestra in Hamburg, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with most of the world's major orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic. Herbert Blomstedt's discography includes hundreds of recordings. Among his later releases are Stenhammar's Serenade and Symphony No. 2 with the Gothenburg Symphony (BIS).

Pianist Maria João Pires has performed worldwide with all major orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Orchester de Paris and Vienna Philharmonic. She has been heard at all major international festivals including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Schubertiaden, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Montpellier, Lucerne, Edinburgh and the BBC Proms. She has been recording on Deutsche Grammophon for over 20 years. Maria João Pires was born in Lisbon in 1944. She made her first public appearance at the age of seven with Mozart's piano concertos in Porto, Portugal. She studied at the Lisbon Conservatory with Professor Campos Coelho and took courses in composition, theory and music history with Francine Benoit. She continued her studies in Germany. Since the 1970s, she has been involved in social issues and education. In 1999 she created the Belgais Center for the Study of the Arts in Portugal which offers interdisciplinary workshops for musicians and music lovers. In 2012, she founded the project Partitura, which is aimed at young musicians. Maria Joao Pires has become known as a leading interpreter of Mozart and Beethoven and other classical repertoire, as well as Chopin and Brahms. In 2018, she stopped touring but continues giving concerts.

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