Bee3 Intro

Severance Hall
November 7 – Thursday at 7:30 p.m. 

November 8 – Friday at 8:00 p.m. 
November 9 – Saturday at 8:00 p.m. 
November 10 – Sunday at 3:00 p.m.


(R)evolutionary Music

This week’s concerts present two musical works, by two of classical music’s biggest names:  Ludwig van Beethoven and Dmitri Shostakovich.  Given its public premiere in 1805, the Third Symphony signalled the arrival of Beethoven as a major composer, determined and destined to make a statement not just with music but about the world.  Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto, written nearly a century-and-a-half later, is a differently animated work — because it had to be.  Shostakovich had already made a name for himself, but was carefully learning just how open or guarded he could be within the confines of Soviet communism.

Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan plays the solo role for Shostakovich’s concerto, filled with beauty and troubling outbursts.  Written in the aftermath of World War II, but kept unpublished until the next decade (following Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s death) with a renewed thawing of the government’s controlling views on artistic values, it is a bravura work for soloist and orchestra, and a dynamic view of Shostakovich’s thrilling brand of music-making.

After intermission, guest conductor Jakub Hrůša leads one of Beethoven’s biggest battle-works, the Third Symphony, nicknamed “Eroica,” meaning “Heroic.”  This mighty piece, born from alternating thoughts of admiration and disgust for Napoleon Bonaparte — and conceived simultaneously as the composer first wrestled with fate’s choice to gradually steal his hearing away toward deafness — did much to launch Beethoven’s greatness for posterity.  It also solidified his own resolve to “fight for good” through his music.  Here politics and philosophy, heroics and will, might and right, are blended together into one of the greatest symphonies ever written.  This is music filled with joy and heartache, fun and confrontation — and pure genius.

Eric Sellen