Göteborgs Konserthus Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

A fantastic classic with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Alan Gilbert.

Concert length: 1 h 45 min incl. intermission Scene: Stora salen
370-530 SEK Student 185-265 SEK

Composer Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra is a musical milestone that was composed in the USA, where he fled to escape the Nazi oppression in Europe. Bartók had scraped by during a few lean years in New York, but he had started to experience symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as leukemia. Perhaps he felt that his life was starting to slip away when he wrote his Concerto for Orchestra, as this music is like a summary of Bartók’s entire musical deeds. It captures his great love of folk music and is also very beautiful. This evening, Alan Gilbert leads the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of this fantastic 20th century classic.

The programme also features the dramatic Amphitheatre by australian composer Brett Dean and Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements. Igor Stravinsky is considered perhaps the most significant and influential composer of the 20th century. His contribution to music history is invaluable and his influence on both his contemporary and subsequent generations of composers places him in a special position in music history.

American conductor Alan Gilbert became chief conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in the autumn of 2019, and since 2021 he is Music Director of the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. Alan Gilbert was chief conductor of the Royal Swedish Philharmonic Orchestra 2000–2008, and thereafter chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.


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!


Brett Dean (b 1961) Amphitheatre Brett Dean is one of Australia's most recognized contemporary composers, with a past as violinist in the Berliner Philharmoniker. The work Amphitheater was commissioned by Symphony Australia in 2000 for a tour with the conductor Daniel Harding, now well-known in Sweden. The work is a dramatic scene for large orchestra with an essentially slow movement. The title comes from the German author Michael Ende's fascinating children's book "Momo", where he describes the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater located on the outskirts of a big city. According to the composer's own words, the basic musical idea is an oscillating chord change that is first heard in the brass. They will be the boulders on which the structure of this piece is built. "Through a change of color, from the low brass, to winds, strings, and then back to brass, we take in different perspectives of the same object, as if taking a walk around its perimeter." The second motif consists of distant, foreboding trumpet fanfares, memories of past glories that took place within the ancient stone walls, temporarily replacing the stillness of frozen time. "Like the tiered seating of these ancient arenas, radiating outwards from the center of the stage, the layers of sound and texture fold and expand." Jenny Svensson

Overture: Allegro Andante. Interlude Con moto Once again, Stravinsky seems to be departing from his sacred formalist principles when, in a commentary on the work, he called it a "war symphony" concerning the Second World War. The inspiration for the first movement is said to have come from a documentary film that told of a "scorched earth" tactic in Chinese warfare. The third movement also had to do with armies, because there are soldiers in parade march behind the movement scheme. Even the middle movement had a visual connection, for he had sketched it for the film The Song of Bernadette based on Franz Werfel's novel (but Hollywood was cold-hearted to all his suggestions, then and elsewhere). So how does the music move? The first movement is an overture with the tempo designation allegro - but the music is equally marching. Powerful chords begin but are contrasted with a more restrained music, and the most enlightening description is that the transition between the separate sections is reminiscent of a cinematic editing technique. The second movement is a kind of dance, but a dance that has no counterpart in reality. Neither the waltz, the saraband, nor any other three-beat dance responds to the sheer steps, so the great imitator of the past has simply invented his own model. A con moto finishes, but even if it speaks of moderation, one might well listen to Paul Griffiths' characterization of it as a march-jog race. Possibly it can be noticed that during this time Stravinsky was working on a re-orchestration of Spring Sacrifice. Both in the first and last movement there is a suggestive power that is close to ballet, and without a doubt there are choreographic elements in the musical fabric of movement. The work was composed in the years 1942-1945 by order of the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York and it was first performed in 1946 with the composer himself as conductor. ERIK WALLRUP, music critic SvD

Intermission 25 min

Introduzione: Andante non troppo. Allegro vivace Giuco della coppie: Allegretto scherzando Elegia: Andante, non troppo Intermezzo interrotto: Allegretto Finale: Pesante. Presto When this music was written in 1943, Bela Bartók had two years left to live. He had come to the United States fleeing a Europe at war and clawed his way through a few lean years in New York. The honorary doctorate at Harvard provided no income. In addition, he became increasingly ill, what previously appeared to be tuberculosis turned out to be leukemia. But he continued to compose as always. Work was his life - and pleasure too, if you will. Like a child, he rested by doing other things. He was first and foremost a music ethnologist, that is, a recorder and collector of folk music. And it was among other things this immeasurable library, more than 13,000 melodies, he was so keen to save the Second World War. Countless trips in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Turkey were made with a phonograph as a memory aid. In between, he composed, on top of that a whole lot of teaching as income and change, and of course an extensive activity as a concert pianist in many countries. In addition, he was interested in collecting plants, beetles, learning new languages. Palestrina's music was always on the piano and he never traveled without his thumbed score of Stravinsky's Spring Sacrifice under his arm. Is there a diagnosis for this? we would ask today. The music Bela Bartók wrote was highly influenced by all the music he saw and heard on his collecting trips, but in the later works you can also hear how fascinated he was by the Baroque masters. The concerto for orchestra was commissioned by the Sergei Koussevitsky Music Foundation. Bartók himself has described the music as a journey from austerity via an ominous song to a life-affirming ending. Like Mozart, he composed incredibly quickly, he couldn't get an idea out of his head until the next one appeared. With such a cacophony within, it is no wonder that throughout his life he sought out quiet places. Bartok himself saw the collection of folk music as his greatest and most important deed for more than one reason: "…the brotherhood of peoples, brotherhood despite all wars and conflicts. I try - as best I can - to serve that idea in my music: therefore I reject no influences, whether Slovak, Romanian, Arabic, or from other sources." (Bartók, 1931) KATARINA A KARLSSON

Friday 21 April 2023: The event ends at approx. 19.45


The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1902 and the Stockholm Concert Hall has been the orchestra's home since 1926. Among the guest conductors are greats such as Riccardo Muti, Andris Nelsons, Herbert Blomstedt, Nathalie Stutzmann, Gianandrea Noseda and honorary conductors Sakari Oramo and Alan Gilbert. The orchestra has also started a close collaboration with the prominent Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Möst. The Royal Philharmonic's new chief conductor is the award-winning American Ryan Bancroft, who will formally take up his post starting with the 2023-2024 season. Finnish Sakari Oramo was the orchestra's chief conductor in the years 2008-21. Together, over the years, they gained a lot of attention for both recordings and international tours. The German daily Die Welt described the Royal Philharmonic as "one of the world's best orchestras". The Royal Philharmonic has received a lot of attention for its recordings. Among these can be mentioned Carl Nielsen's six symphonies on three cd's (BIS), which were praised by critics worldwide and the CD with symphonies no. 1 and 3 was awarded the BBC Music Magazine Award for best classical orchestral production. Two cd's with recordings of Anders Hillborg's music have both been awarded the Swedish Grammis-award, and they have also released a cd with the American star soprano Renée Fleming.

Alan Gilbert is since 2021 music director at the Royal Opera in Stockholm and since 2019 chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. From 2000-2008 he was chief conductor of the Royal Philharmonic in Stockholm, a period that generated 270 performances in Stockholm's Konserthus and on tours abroad. He now holds the title of honorary conductor of the Royal Philharmonic. Alan Gilbert was born in New York City. He studied music at, among others, the Juilliard School of Music. In 1994 he won the George Solti prize in conducting and the same year first prize at the International Competition for Musical Performance in Geneva. During the 1990s he worked, among other things, at the Santa Fe Opera and was assistant conductor at the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. Gilbert built much of his reputation conducting contemporary and American music. He was the first New York-born conductor to be appointed music director of the New York Philharmonic. Ahead of his first season with the orchestra in 2009-2010, Gilbert introduced a number of new initiatives, including composer Magnus Lindberg and artist-in-residence Thomas Hampson. During the eight years as music director of the New York Philharmonic, Gilbert managed to transform the orchestra into a leading player in the cultural landscape. In 2022, Alan Gilbert was appointed by King Carl XVI Gustaf as court kapellmeister.

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Nr 4 2021-2022 Béla Bartók,1881-1945