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in various forms and tempos. Taras Bulba, though, predicts Russia’s triumph and the work closes with a great hymn of victory. lISZt: pIano ConCerto no. 2 In a maJor, S. 125 Considered one of the greatest pianists of all time, Franz Liszt wrote hundreds of piano works but only two piano concertos. (A “Third” Piano Concerto was discovered in 1989 and is believed to predate the other two concertos.) The Second Piano Concerto even had a different name when he first wrote it: Concerto symphonique. Liszt was influenced by his friend Henry Litolff, who composed four extant works with that title. These pieces, according to Litolff, were symphonies with piano obbligato. Although Liszt eventually changed the name to Piano Concerto No. 2, the inspiration of Litolff can be heard in the concerto. As in Litolff’s works, Liszt’s concerto is in a single movement containing multiple sections that convey different moods. Liszt also uses thematic transformation, where a musical idea is presented and then continually altered throughout the work. Liszt did this in other pieces, including the symphonic poem Les Préludes. Overall, the Second Concerto does not have the overt flashiness of the First Concerto and has not achieved as much success in the concert hall. The rewards of the Second Concerto are subtler. The work starts gently with the woodwinds presenting the theme that will carry throughout the concerto. The piano makes its first entrance soon after, playing quiet arpeggios. From here, Liszt takes the listener on a journey of different moods, including dramatic, reflective (with an extended solo for the cello), noble, and a vibrant

CZECH PHILHARMONIC (DANIEL HAVEL)

march towards the end. All of the sections are based upon the opening theme and, after a while, it may seem almost like a game to discover in what new ways the theme will appear. For many portions of the concerto, the traditional roles are reversed as the piano accompanies the orchestra (hence the original title of Concerto symphonique), but there are also plenty of places for undisguised virtuosity, particularly as the work draws to its thrilling conclusion. Dvořák: Symphony no. 9 In e mInor, op. 95 “from the new worlD” Dvořák composed his ninth and final symphony in 1893, one year after moving to New York to head the National Conservatory of Music, the brainchild of Jeanette Thurber. She had lured Dvořák to come, in part, with a massive annual salary of $15,000 (about $400,000 in today’s dollars). 3

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Czech Philharmonic Program  

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