Göteborgs Konserthus Season opening: Boulanger and Beethoven

Triumphant opening of the Gothenburg Symphony's concert season in the Gothenburg Concert Hall, with Santtu-Matias Rouvali conducting and Leif Ove Andsnes on piano!

Concert length: 2 h incl. intermission Scene: Stora salen
380-540 SEK Student 190-270 SEK Youth up to 29 190-270 SEK

Santtu-Matias Rouvali opens the season with the triumphant 5th Piano Concerto by Beethoven, the Emperor Concerto. Norwegian star pianist Leif Ove Andsnes elegantly handles the piano keys, as gracefully as the puppeteer dances through Stravinsky’s ballet Petrusjka.

The piano concerto is Beethoven’s last and the most famous with its heroic themes. The composer himself could no longer play at the premiere, he had become too deaf to play with the orchestra. 

The evening opens with an orchestral masterpiece by child prodigy Lili Boulanger. She was only 24 years old but managed to amaze the whole world. That spring morning in Paris she dressed in tones was completed shortly before her death in 1918. 

Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka takes place in a Russian puppet theater during carnival time. In the music, we hear both folk melodies and waltzes from Vienna, but reworked and with harmonies that bite.


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!


Lili Boulanger grew up in a particularly musical environment. Her father Ernest (1815-1900) was a singing teacher and composer, mainly of light operas. Already at the age of 20, he had won the attractive Prix de Rome with the cantata Achilles. At the Paris Conservatoire, he had the Russian princess Raisa Myshetskaya, 43 years his junior, as a vocal student, and they married in 1877. In 1887, they had a daughter, Nadia, who was awarded second prize in the Prix de Rome in 1908 - she lived to be 92 years old and taught a long line of 20th-century foremost composers from around the world in composition. In 1893, the 77-year-old Ernest became the father of another daughter, Lili, who first studied with her sister and then with Gabriel Fauré, and who in 1913 was awarded that year's Prix de Rome! She became the first woman the French Academy deemed worthy of the grand prize. Unfortunately, she was sickly and weak, and was only 24 years old when she was swept away by Crohn's disease. Lili Boulanger managed to compose around 40 works during her too short life. Already at the age of 14, she had decided to become a composer. During her last year of life, Lili Boulanger composed "A spring morning", the last thing she wrote herself. She dictated the Pie Jesu prayer to her sister three weeks before she passed out powerless. D'un matin de printemps can be played for violin and piano or flute and piano, and is also available in an orchestral version. Given the circumstances, it's strange to listen to this carefree and positive piece, but she had just undergone an operation that appeared to be successful… As a curiosity, it can be mentioned that the asteroid 1181 has been named after Lili Boulanger, and a crater on Venus after Nadia Boulanger. STIG JACOBSSON

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor" 38 min

Intermission 25 min

The Shrovetide Fair Petrushka's Room The Moor's Room Towards evening: The Moor and Death of Petrushka Petrushka, which is an example of Stravinsky's feeling for Russian folklore, actually comes from Stravinsky's first years as a composer. The young law student, who took private lessons in orchestration, had caught the eye of ballet impresario Diaghilev after some orchestral pieces performed back home in Russia. Djagilev was looking for something musically new and interesting. Paris critics liked the Russian ballet's inventive decor and choreography, but found the music boring. After Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, no critics wrote that anymore. But this was several years ahead, first Diaghilev lured Stravinsky to France. The ballet The Firebird was Stravinsky's definitive breakthrough and perhaps the work that made him truly believe in his chosen profession. Ballet number two, Petrushka, became as popular as the Firebird. Petrushka is about three dolls that appear in Russian markets and the music is as full of color and whimsy as you can imagine such a market could be. The amazing dancer Nijinsky played the lead role at the Théâtre du Châtelet on June 13, 1911. Over 30 years later, in 1947, Stravinsky made a new version in the United States with some adaptations, most likely because he did not have the copyright to his earlier version and had to rewrite it to generate income when the work was performed. I'm probably not alone in thinking that the music for Petrushka is among the most beautiful things Stravinsky wrote. Time and time again, the music evokes smiles. Here there are carousels, love, positivity, romance, slapstick. When you close your eyes, both smells and images come to mind. KATARINA A KARLSSON

Thursday 31 August 2023: The event ends at approx. 21.30


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.

Since 2017, Santtu-Matias Rouvali has been chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony. He also has a successful international conducting career and has been hailed by The Guardian as "the latest great talent in the Finnish conducting tradition that you just have to listen to". Santtu-Matias Rouvali is also chief conductor of the Tampere City Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. He has toured with the Gothenburg Symphony and pianist Hélène Grimaud in Nordic capitals as well as with pianist Alice Sara Ott and percussionist Martin Grubinger in Germany. Throughout the season 2022-2023, Santtu-Matias Rouvali continues his relationships with top level orchestras across Europe, including Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Symphoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Münichner Philharmoniker, as well as returning to the New York Philharmonic for his annual visits. He works with soloists including Víkingur Ólafsson, Nemanja Radulovic, Yuja Wang, Nicola Benedetti, Behzod Abduraimov, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Alice Sara Ott, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Vadim Gluzman, Randall Goosby, and Vilde Frang.

The New York Times has called Leif Ove Andsnes "a pianist of magnificent elegance, strength and insight". With his phenomenal technique and profound interpretations, Leif Ove Andsnes has won appreciation throughout the world. In 2019-2020 he was Artist in Residence at the Gothenburg Symphony. Leif Ove Andsnes gave his first concert with the Gothenburg Symphony as early as 1989, and has done around ten concerts with the orchestra since then, including a tour to Las Palmas and Tenerife. Leif Ove Andsnes gives solo evenings every season and appears as a soloist in the world's leading concert halls with the leading orchestras. In 2017-2018 he was Artist in Residence at the New York Philharmonic. He is also a diligent chamber musician and founder of Rosendal's chamber music festival. For nearly two decades he shared the artistic leadership of the chamber music festival in Risør and in 2012 was the artistic director of the Ojai Festival in California. He was awarded an honorary doctorate at Juilliard in New York in 2016 and at the University of Bergen in 2017. Leif Ove Andsnes has made over 30 disc recordings, including solo piano by Chopin, "Ballades & Nocturnes" (Sony Classics). The edition of Beethoven's five piano concertos has been praised by the critics. He is above all known as a master of Grieg and his recording of Grieg's piano concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker (2003) is considered one of the best of all time. In autumn 2022, Andsnes has, among other things, toured Europe with a program consisting of Janácek's only piano sonata, Lamento by Alexander Vustin and Beethoven's penultimate piano sonata, Op. 110.

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