Neglected symphony: Wilhelm Peterson-Berger Symphony No. 5

I hadn’t even heard of this composer before a conductor friend suggested I listen to this piece, the Symphony No. 5 by Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (1867-1942). Peterson-Berger was a Swedish composer and music critic who was an anti-modernist. The Symphony No. 5, written in 1932-33, is so conservative, in fact, that one could consider it almost backward. The problem is that it’s also interesting, beautiful and accomplished. See what you think.

Michail Jurowski conducts the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra.

Hear another neglected Swedish symphony by clicking here.

To hear more of my series, click on the “neglected symphonies” tag below this post.

Symphonic progressivism, 1896

I came across the program above quite by chance the other day, during another search (I don’t even remember what I was looking for).

It’s rather astounding. In our own time, symphony orchestras have come to be seen as conservative organizations and as curators of the past. The call has gone out for a greater diversity in the repertoire, for the performance of more living composers and the performance of more women composers.

Here, from 1896, is an exemplar from the Boston Symphony. It’s a subscription concert and every composer on the program above, except for the last, was alive at the time of the performance.

And the first piece on the agenda — the “Gaelic” Symphony by Amy Beach — was, yes, composed by a woman. It’s a piece very much worth reviving, by the way.

Neglected symphony: Symphony No. 3 by Franz Berwald

Here’s another offering in my neglected symphony series, the Symphony No. 3, “Sinfonie singuliere,” by the Swedish composer Franz Berwald (1796-1868). Why is it neglected, you ask? I don’t think you can say it has anything to do with the work’s quality. It’s more that the 19th-century classical music culture was dominated by Germans, who forged the canon, who left out Swedes and many others.

Okko Kamu conducts the Helsingborgs Symfoniorkester.

Playlist: Some British symphonic music

It was gratifying last week to see the audience’s response to Pacific Symphony’s first performances of Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 (and how well the orchestra played it, under the baton of guest conductor Michael Francis). We don’t get much British symphonic music here in California, or in the U.S. generally, so I thought I’d put together a little playlist for those of you who are curious to explore a little more.

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Program for New Year’s concert from Vienna

The 2018 New Year’s concert from Vienna (with the Vienna Philharmonic), on January 1, will be conducted by Riccardo Muti for the fifth time. KOCE will broadcast the event at 9 p.m. on Jan. 1. This is always one of the most enjoyable classical music broadcasts of the year (in our opinion) and is best accompanied with a good bottle of champagne.

Muti and the Vienna Phil will perform the following program:

  • Johann Strauss, Jr.
    Einzugsmarsch aus der Operette „Der Zigeunerbaron“, ohne op.
  • Josef Strauss
    Wiener Fresken. Walzer, op. 249
  • Johann Strauss, Jr.
    Brautschau. Polka, op. 417
    Leichtes Blut. Polka schnell, op. 319
  • Johann Strauss, sen.
    Marienwalzer, op.212
    Wilhelm Tell Galopp, op. 29b
  • Franz von Suppé
    Ouvertüre zu “Boccaccio”
  • Johann Strauss, Jr.
    Myrthenblüten. Walzer, op. 395
  • Alphons Czibulka
    Stephanie-Gavotte, op. 312
  • Johann Strauss, Jr.
    Freikugeln. Polka schnell, op. 326
    Tales from the Vienna Woods, Waltz, op. 325
    Fest-Marsch, op. 452
    Stadt und Land. Polka mazur, op. 322
    Un ballo in maschera. Quadrille, op. 272
    Rosen aus dem Süden. Walzer, op. 388
  • Josef Strauss
    Eingesendet. Polka schnell, op. 240

They will also, of course, play the two traditional encores, which are the “Blue Danube” Waltz and the “Radetzky” March. The U.S. broadcast has in the past trimmed some items from the program, but these days the complete concert will be viewable on YouTube.