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NSO: Brahms, Berlioz

NSO: Brahms, Berlioz

NSO Season

NSO: Brahms, Berlioz

National Symphony Orchestra
Lio Kuokman conductor 
Jonathan Biss piano
Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 
Berlioz Symphonie fantastique 

Infatuated by the Irish actress Harriet Smithson, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique blazes with all the intensity of an opium-induced phantasmagoria. Desire and delirium go hand in hand in music as surreal and savage as it is sensual.

‘An eloquent interpreter with a powerful technique’ (New York Times), Jonathan Biss is the soloist for Brahms’s vigorous and flamboyant First Piano Concerto, one of the most popular and frequently performed of all piano concertos.

Did you know?

Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was the first orchestral work by the 25-year-old composer to be performed in public.

Initially a sonata for two pianos, then a symphony, its concerto version retained material only from its original first movement, Brahms writing new music for what followed.

When Berlioz abandoned his studies in medicine to devote himself to composing, his devout, disapproving Catholic mother disowned him.

Though their marriage was short and unhappy, Berlioz and Harriet Smithson were buried together in Montmartre Cemetery in Paris.

Listen out for…

The piano’s waltz-like introduction calming and soothing the extended orchestral turbulence that opens Brahms’s Piano Concerto.

The Adagio’s serene winds and strings and the piano’s loving portrait of Clara Schumann.

The finale’s rhythmic vigour, and the piano’s theme alternating with contrastingly defiant and lyrical episodes before ending in D major sunlight. 

The forlorn strings and yearning horns that begin Symphonie fantastique – a self-portrait of the lovesick Berlioz.

The flute and oboe that animates the subject of the composer’s affections that grow more ardent and intense.

The solo clarinet’s summoning of the beloved’s image in the ‘March to the Scaffold’ before a swiping flurry of winds and percussion ends the last reverie.

The blending of the ‘Dies Irae’ and a demoniacal witches dance in a frenzy of drunkenly ecstatic brass and strings at the finale.

Book Now
Friday 28 Mar 2025
Main Stage
€15, €25, €29, €34.50, €39
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