Virtual Concert: Feelings

Friday 22.1.2021 19.00 Spring Series 2 & 3
Spring Series 2 Spring Series 3
Friday 22.1.2021 19.00 YouTube
Spring Series 2 Spring Series 3

Conductor Anja Bilhmaier introduces the audience the virtuoso Oboe Concerto by Zimmermann. The soloist is Juliana Koch, Principal Oboe with the London Symphony Orchestra. Brahms’s utterly Romantic Fourth Symphony concludes the programme.

Virtual concert on YouTube on Friday 22 January 2021 at 7 pm. The video will be online until February 21st 2021.


Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Concerto for oboe and small orchestra
I Hommage à Strawinsky
II Rhapsodie
III Finale

Johannes Brahms: Symphony no. 4 in E minor op. 98
Allegro non troppo
Andante moderato
Allegro giocoso
Allegro energico e passionato

The program is subject to change, even in the last minutes. The most current information is found on our website:



Bernd Alois Zimmerman

Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra

German composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann was one of the great lonely artists of the post-war era: a seeker, a doubter and a pessimist who eventually ended up killing himself in the absence of any other solution to his life and his artistic impasse. In the 1950s, he progressed from the Neo-Classicism of his early works to atonality, dodecaphony and eventually serialism, but he is best known for the pluralist idiom bringing together a variety of styles that he ended up with in the 1960s. His most celebrated work is the massive and wildly heterogeneous opera Die Soldaten (1965).
Zimmermann’s Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra is a relatively early work, dating from 1952. He wrote other solo works around that time, such as the Violin Concerto (1950), the Trumpet Concerto Nobody knows the trouble I see (1954) and Canto di Speranza for cello and small orchestra (1957). His Oboe Concerto reflects his stylistic shift from Neo-Classicism to dodecaphony, and its musical material is based on the same twelve-tone row that he used in his Trumpet Concerto. Yet the work is very much Neo-Classical in its idiom, and the first movement bears the sub-title ‘Hommage à Stravinsky’. The solo oboe part requires a performer of virtuoso calibre and makes effective use of rapid transitions between the registers of the instrument.
The Concerto is in three movements and very concise; the slow middle movement is nearly as long as the two flanking movements combined. The opening movement is edgy and acerbic in a Neo-Classical vein, and the homage to Stravinsky is evident in the form of references to his Symphony in C. By contrast, the tense and menacing slow movement, ‘Rhapsodie’, is like a nightmare variation on the night music from Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, although there are a few brighter moments with a fairy-tale feel. The oboe part is largely recitative-like and eventually breaks off into a solo cadenza. The lively and airy finale also includes a cadenza for the soloist before the brief concluding gestures.

Johannes Brahms

Symphony No. 4 e-minor op. 98

Brahms travelled a long and rocky road to emerge as a symphonic composer. His severe self-criticism and what he described as the footsteps of a giant behind him (Beethoven) led him to maintain a respectful distance from the genre until well into his maturity. After he had finally completed his First Symphony after nearly two decades of struggle, at the age of 43 in autumn 1876, the next three came in quick succession: he completed his last Symphony, in E minor, in summer 1884 and 1885.
Brahms wrote his Fourth Symphony at Mürzzuschlag in Steiermark, at the foot of the Alps. Brahms identified the music with the location: “I’m afraid it smacks of the climate – cherries do not ripen here, and you would not want to eat them.” There is indeed something undeniably autumnal and elegiac in its tones.
The first movement begins with the famous and justly celebrated main subject, whose balanced proportions conceal a deep melancholy. The first movement is in a tightly built sonata form where the transition to the recapitulation is blurred due to an extended version of the main subject. The dynamic culmination does not come until the exceptionally weighty coda.
The slow movement is remarkable in how it vacillates between C major and E major, lending an archaic Phrygian colour to the music. Brahms never wrote a proper scherzo in his symphonies, but the solidly defiant and energetic third movement in this Symphony comes very close to the Beethovenian ideal for this function.
The finale of the Symphony is rooted in the Baroque, in terms of both form and material. The movement is a passacaglia (or a chaconne, depending on how one looks at it), the theme of which is adapted from the final chorus of J.S. Bach’s Cantata no. 150, Nach dir Gott verlanget mich. The variations, which follow each other without breaks, seem to create a vortex drawing the music onwards. They divide up into three main sections; the contrasting calmer middle section opens with a flute solo, while the final section enters with a powerful brass declamation.

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