Göteborgs Konserthus Also sprach Zarathustra

Event has already taken place. Magnificent tonal splendour with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali and violinist Johan Dalene.

Concert length: 2 h incl. intermission Scene: Stora salen
370-530 SEK Student 185-265 SEK

Event has already taken place

The initial fanfare in Also sprach Zarathustra is one of the best known pieces of classical music, rivalled only in this regard by Beethoven’s immortal Fifth Symphony. Its use in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey” made it even more well-known.

Yet there is much more to Richard Strauss’ monumental tone poem than just this striking introduction. It also provides us with beautiful string passages and magnificent tonal splendour, with the Gothenburg Concert Hall’s new organ playing a central role.

The music is based on the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s book Thus Spoke Zarathustra – a dense and multifaceted essay on philosophy, mankind and morality.

During this concert we also meet the Swedish super talent Johan Dalene as the soloist in Samuel Barber’s retrospective Violin Concerto. The evening begins with music by the London-born but USA-based composer Anna Clyne.

Violinisten Johan Dalene med instrument.


Get to know the classical pieces

Get to know Anna Clyne.

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!

Art piece in the foyer

Adjacent to the concert we are showing the art piece Pixilation (2019) by composer Johan Svensson, composed for two keyboards, light and samples and specially adapted for Gothenburg’s Concert Hall foyer. Tightly connected sound and light sources create interlaced animation sequences that evolve over time inside light-protected tents. Let yourself be enveloped in darkness and experience how bass frequencies fill the room.

Note: Installations will contain flashing lights and stroboscopes.


Anna Clyne (f 1980) Color Field The central inspiration for Color Field is a person: Melanie Sabelhaus, the honoree of this work. I began the creative process upon first meeting Sabelhaus in New York City, when I learned about her family, her Serbian roots, her work and the music she loves. She is bold, audacious, generous, and a pioneer for women in business and philanthropic work. She also loves the color orange – in particular Hermès Orange – and thus began my exploration of color. This led me to Mark Rothko’s Orange, Red, Yellow (1961) – a powerful example of the artist’s Color Field paintings, featuring red and yellow framing a massive swash of vibrant orange that seems to vibrate off the canvas. While I explored creating music that evokes colors, I thought about synesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon in which a person hears sound, pitch and tonal centers and then sees specific colors, and vice versa. In the case of composer Scriabin, he associated specific pitches with specific colors, which I have adopted as tonal centers for the three movements of this piece: Yellow = D, Red = C, Orange = G. Each movement of Color Field weaves in elements of the life of Melanie Sabelhaus, for whom music has always been in the house. Yellow evokes a hazy warmth and incorporates a traditional Serbian melody, first heard as a very slow bass line, and then revealed in the middle of the movement in the strings and winds. In Red, the fires blaze with bold percussive patterns and lilting lines. In Orange, the music becomes still and breathes, and then escalates once more, incorporating elements of Yellow and Red to create Orange – the signature color of Melanie Sabelhaus. (Anna Clyne 2020)

Samuel Barber (1910–1981) Violin Concerto Samuel Barber was a likeable man without elbows, and he won everyone's heart and received many awards. Only 28 years old, he was appointed professor of composition at the Curtis Institute, where he himself had studied a few years earlier. By then he had already won the coveted Pulitzer Prize two years in a row, and later he would receive it twice more, as well as being awarded the American Rome Prize and a valuable fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. He received an honorary doctorate from Harvard and served as vice-president of the International Music Council, a UNESCO body within the United Nations. With all right, Barber is also counted among the few truly great American composers, and his most important works include his three solo concertos, written for piano, cello and violin. The violin concerto is filled with melodies and poignant thoughts. The introduction itself belongs to the most beautiful whimsy of violin literature and, with its yearning outburst, is unique among contemporary concerts. Barber began composing the concerto in 1939 while in Switzerland, and he managed to write the first two movements before the war broke out. When the intended soloist got to experience this music, he thought the solo part was far too easy. The last movement was composed by Barber while the war was raging at home in the USA – and that music was too difficult for the intended soloist! Today we know that Barber composed a real masterpiece. STIG JACOBSSON

Intermission 25 min

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) Also sprach Zarathustra In October 1894, the 30-year-old Richard Strauss had become assistant to the chief conductor of the Munich Opera, Hermann Levi. He had to take on increasing responsibility, but absolutely did not want to give up his composing. He spent all his free time working on a new large symphonic poem "freely composed after Friedrich Nietzsche". It would turn out that it was so freely formed that the philosopher himself took a very negative view of Strauss's arrangement of the work. in August 1896 Levi resigned and Strauss was appointed the new principal conductor. By then, the composition Also sprach Zarathustra, "thus spoke Zarathustra", was already completed and the premiere took place on November 27 with the composer himself as conductor at a concert in Frankfurt. The music is in no way a musical translation of Nietzsche's controversial theories about the superman. No, there is not much philosophizing here at all, the down-to-earth composer was a stranger to such things, but all the more he had been carried away by the book's vivid and epic language. Strauss saw the positive sides of the author's message: the demand for freedom, the longing for a better world, the power of action. The descriptions of nature were the most important source of inspiration. The extensive orchestral poem is broken up into nine sections whose titles correspond to the names of chapters in the book (though not always in the same order). Between these there are only three general breaks, the rest go in one sweep. As a motto, he placed Nietzsche's "Ode to the Sun" with the call that "For too long we have dreamed of music, let us now wake up. We were sleepwalkers, let us now go out into the day…” The whole work begins with the sunrise: after long, grinding and very low Cs in double basses, contrabassoons and organ, the sun breaks out in the notes C, G and C2. This is probably the most glorious sunrise in the history of music. Its radiant power has long since been used in many different contexts that must have been foreign to Strauss. The music is used, among other things, as a theme in the science fiction film 2001 - A Space Odyssey. The following parts have the titles: "about the inhabitants of the afterlife" with a leitmotif from the Gregorian sequence Credo in unum Deum, "I believe in One God", "about the great longing", "about the joy and the passions" where the oboe intones a mourning melody. It is the dreams of the youth that are buried, now there is no return to the ivory tower, "The Grave Song", "On Science" with a parodic, academic fugue, where all twelve notes of the chromatic scale are found, "The Convalescent", "Dance Song" with waltz-like rhythms, flowing colors and a prominent violin solo. "Song of the Night Wanderer" is a heart-wrenching farewell song where the description of nature returns in a reconciling C major in the basses. In music, C major is allowed to represent man and nature, while B major represents the universe – two keys that are very far apart. At the end of the piece, none of them emerge victorious from the fight. STIG JACOBSSON

Thursday 16 March 2023: The event ends at approx. 21.30
Friday 17 March 2023: The event ends at approx. 20.00


The Gothenburg Symphony, called "one of the world's most formidable orchestras" by the Guardian, has toured the USA, Europe, Japan and the Far East and performed at major music centres and festivals throughout the world. Chief conductor is Santtu-Matias Rouvali who started his tenure in 2017. Barbara Hannigan and Christoph Eschenbach are principal guest conductors since 2019. Already at the orchestra's very first years, the great Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar was appointed principal conductor, contributing strongly to the Nordic profile of the orchestra by inviting his colleagues Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius to conduct their own works. Subsequent holders of the post include Sergiu Comissiona, Sixten Ehrling and Charles Dutoit. During Neeme Järvi's tenure (1982-2004), the orchestra became a major international force. In 1997 it was appointed the National Orchestra of Sweden. During his celebrated tenure as music director (2007-2012), Gustavo Dudamel took the Orchestra to major music centres and festivals in Europe, making acclaimed appearances at BBC Proms and Vienna Musikverein. The list of prominent guest conductors has included Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pierre Monteux, Herbert von Karajan, Myung-Whun Chung, Herbert Blomstedt and Sir Simon Rattle. The orchestra also runs extensive concert projects for children, and regularly releases digital live concerts free on gsoplay.se. The orchestra has been involved in many prestigious recording projects, the latest one the complete Sibelius Symphonies with Santtu-Matias Rouvali for Alpha Classics. Earlier, the orchestra has issued over 100 recordings on BIS, Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, Farao Classics and several other labels. The Gothenburg Symphony is owned by the Region Västra Götaland.

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.

22-year-old Swedish-Norwegian violinist Johan Dalene has made a big impression on the international stages. He appears regularly with leading orchestras and in famous concert halls both at home and abroad. His way of "making his Stradivarius sing masterfully" (Le Monde), combined with refreshing, honest musicianship and the ability to engage both fellow musicians and audience, has earned him many admirers. This was further confirmed when in 2019 he became first prize winner in the prestigious Carl Nielsen competition and winner of the Norwegian Soloist Prize. Highlights from recent seasons include Mozart's 5th Violin Concerto with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt, BBC Proms debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jordan de Souza, as well as debuts with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig with Sakari Oramo, the Czech Philharmonic with Semyon Bychkov, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra with Esa-Pekka Salonen, London Philharmonic Orchestra with Karina Canellakis, Konzerthausorchester Berlin with Christoph Eschenbach, Danmarks Radio Symphony Orchestra with Stanislav Kochanovsky, Lucerne Sinfonieorchester with Thomas Dausgaard and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic with Joshua Weilerstein. In the 2021/22 season, Johan was selected as a Rising Star Artist by the European Concert Hall Organization (ECHO) and during this period gave concerts in some of Europe's most prestigious concert halls such as Wiener Konzerthaus, Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, L'auditori in Barcelona, Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and the Cité de la Musique in Paris. During the period 2019-22, Johan is a New Generation Artist on BBC Radio 3, which means performances in concerts, chamber music concerts and as a soloist with all BBC orchestras. Everything is recorded and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Johan is an exclusive artist on the record company BIS. His third album, featuring Nielsen's and Sibelius' violin concertos, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor John Storgårds, arrived in March 2022. This recording was (like his two previous albums) "Editor's Choice" in Gramophone Magazine and has received top ratings in a number of international magazines . Johan Dalene was also named Young Artist of the Year 2022 by Gramophone.

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Nr 4 2022-2023 Tonsättarporträtt: Samuel Barber

Lär känna tonsättaren Samuel Barber (1910-1981).

Nr 2 2014-2015 Tonsättarporträtt: Richard Strauss 150 år

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Percussionist vid pukor med stockar i handen, omgiven av röd sammet.

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