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Czech Philharmonic ⬩ Rudolf Buchbinder
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73 (“Emperor”)
Symphony No. 4 in G Major
Historical connections can sometimes be entertaining. In the scholarly literature, one reads that Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto was dedicated to a Habsburg named Rudolf. This building, the Rudolfinum, was also named for Rudolf. But make no mistake, one Rudolf is not to be confused with the other. Beethoven’s friend was Archduke Rudolf, to whom he also dedicated his great Archduke Trio, Op. 97, while “our” Rudolf was the crown prince seventy years later. Beethoven had given the premieres of all of his piano concertos, but by the time of the Emperor Concerto, he almost could not hear at all, unfortunately, so the part was entrusted to Friedrich Schneider in Leipzig and to Carl Czerny in Vienna. The composition is a culmination of the classical-era instrumental concerto while also throwing the door wide open to Romanticism.
Mahler’s Fourth Symphony concludes a tetralogy through which songs from the cycle The Youth’s Magic Horn run like a common thread. The preceding symphonies work with material from several of the songs, while the Fourth Symphony quotes only one, Das himmlische Leben (Heavenly Life). There are flashes of the song in various forms throughout the symphony, then it finally appears as a whole in the fourth movement. The title Das himmlische Leben comes directly from Mahler, and it captures a child’s idea of heaven. He had originally wanted to use the song in his Third Symphony, which contains quotes of it. Ultimately, however, he made Das himmlische Leben the focal point of his Fourth Symphony, with its breath of heavenly beauty, child-like purity, and deep peace.
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
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