Vara Konserthus Gothenburg Symphony plays in Vara Konserthus

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra plays in Vara Konserthus together with conductor Andrew Manze.

Concert length: 2 h incl. intermission

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra plays in Vara Konserthus together with conductor Andrew Manze.


JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897) Tragic Overture Op 81 It was in the summers that Brahms mostly devoted himself to composing: then he left the stress of Vienna and went to some scenic and pleasant health resort where he could let inspiration flow, then he let the musical ideas he had written down during the year blossom into finished works. In the summer of 1880, he was thus in Bad Ischl in the middle of the beautiful Salzkammergut, and on the sheet music, among other things, his Tragic Overture emerged. The name of the work is misleading - because it is more about serious and mature moods than purely tragic. Brahms is one of those composers who carried ideas long before he could decide what they would result in. The first sketches for the overture were by this time more than ten years old, for in the manuscripts of his Liebesliederwalzer and Altrapsodi have also been found 60 measures which can now be found in the overture. Originally this work was intended as part of the music for a production of Goethe's Faust at the Vienna Burgtheater but the theater changed its plans and the overture was instead premiered separately in a concert hall. It is interesting to note that Brahms not infrequently composed his works in pairs, two works that are complete opposites of each other. In parallel with the first piano quartet, he also wrote the second, the orchestral serenade op 11 was written in the same year (1860) as op 16 and the serious Tragic Overture was composed side by side with the extroverted Academic Festival Overture. STIG JACOBSSON

BRITTA BYSTRÖM (b 1977) VOYAGES EXTRAORDINAIRES (Gothenburg Symphony Commission) Voyages extraordinaires is a title I borrowed from the author Jules Verne - it is the collective name of his great series of novels about fantastic or in reality impossible journeys. The title felt fitting because my work is conceived precisely as fantastic musical journeys, where the listener is suddenly transported to a completely new sound world via a recurring orchestral transformation act. A few years ago I composed a piece of chamber music, Diagonal Music, inspired by the geometric paintings of the artist Olle Bærtling. Bærtling's paintings consist of large, brilliant triangle-like shapes, where the lines gradually approach each other, but where the intersection of the angles is often out of view. The consequence is that you, as a spectator, like to try to finish the angle in your own head. This is what I wanted to transfer to music: the lines that approach each other, but rarely or never meet, except possibly in the listener's mind. In Voyages extraordinaires I have tried to develop this technique further, but now in orchestral format, and combined it with the sudden transformation numbers that are also the work's signature. The fantastic journeys thus also refer to journeys in the imagination: what we imagine and complete for our inner eye. I think of the work as a kind of tribute to the possibilities of art to transcend the limitations of life. Britta Byström

Intermission 25 min

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Symphony No 7 Half Viennese classicist, half romantic, but mostly Beethoven. That's how we're used to seeing him, but he had other sides as well. In both the 6th and 7th symphonies, the folklorist Beethoven appears. In the former he depicts dancing peasants (third movement), and in the seventh symphony he delivers a finale built around a folk dance. Of course, in Beethoven's artful and powerful arrangement - he is incredibly driving, thrusting with weight and force into the chords at an accelerating pace. This restless, rhythmic rondo is one of his most explosive creations. The symphony opens slowly, with upward movements (fast versus slow) contrasted with a pretty, dancing trio. Note Beethoven's orchestral dramaturgy as he strips away the score from the full orchestra until only a flute and an oboe remain. Then the main theme takes over, heralding the 9th Symphony's An die Freude. In the thematic development work, one can often discern the struggle of the lonely against the many, a constantly recurring theme in Beethoven's music. The well-known allegretto in movement two is definitely the symphony's pièce de résistance. This variation movement must have seemed like a very strange animal in Beethoven's time: an evocative passacaglia with a rhythmic figure - one long, two short, two long - pulsating throughout the movement. Above this, Beethoven weaves and develops new parts that increase in strength and scope and then thin out and tone down. The swells are crowned by a couple of solid climaxes. This is Bach and the future at once, the innovative polyphony that would blossom fully in the late string quartets and piano sonatas. The third movement is a scherzo to everything but the name – never have boisterous male laughter (the low strings) and female laughter cascades (the woodwind) been depicted so vividly as here. Beethoven also achieves unusual harmonic effects when he lets the trumpets lie on pedal notes above (reversed!) the melody in the rest of the orchestra. The symphony was first performed on 8 December 1813 together with the almost farcical commissioned work Wellington's Victory, including crevados, cannons and a fugato on God save the King. There is no doubt as to which work is the better.

Thursday 9 November 2023: The event ends at approx. 21.00


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.

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