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Czech Philharmonic ⬩ Giovanni Antonini
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Don Juan, ballet suite
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93
While Count Carl von Oppersdorff was visiting his friend Prince Lichnowsky, he heard Ludwig van Beethoven’s Second Symphony, and he was so enthusiastic that he immediately offered the composer a large sum of music to composer another symphony for him. But while Beethoven’s music thrilled Count von Oppersdorff, the critics in Vienna could not stand it. According to the “Newspaper for the Elegant World”, the Second Symphony made the impression of “a hideously writhing, wounded dragon that refuses to die, but is writhing in its last agonies and, in the fourth movement, bleeds to death.” Beethoven further strengthened the effect of this terrible, devilish music by excluding the elegant minuet and by putting a thorny scherzo in its place. As it turns out, scherzos would become a fixed feature of symphonic form, displacing the unfortunate minuet for good. The Eighth Symphony is one of Beethoven’s few compositions that does not bear any dedication. Beethoven called it “my Little Symphony in F Major” to differentiate it from the Pastoral Symphony. Although its premiere was not as successful as that of the Seventh Symphony that preceded it, the composer held it in very high regard musically.
The ballet Don Juan by Christoph Willibald Gluck also tells a very exciting story. Its importance to the ballet genre is similar to the importance of the revolutionary work Orfeo ed Euridice to opera. Don Juan is actually the first ballet to present the entire narrative of a story. Gluck had a very good grasp of dance, and he understood it as an art form all its own, entirely independent of music. The task of the dancer was to combine the musical and dancing elements into a single effective whole. There could be no better subject matter for this “prototype” than the drama of Don Juan.
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
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