≈ 2 hours · With intermission
Last updated: February 8, 2019
Overture to Der Freischütz, Op. 77
Franz-Paul Decker was on the podium in 1973 for the NAC Orchestra’s first performance of Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz. Pinchas Zukerman was the conductor for the Orchestra’s most recent interpretation in 2012.
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
The NAC Orchestra played Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 for the first time in 1971, with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting and Min‑Young Kim as soloist. In 2013 and 2014, the ensemble gave performances of this concerto in Southam Hall, as well as on tours in China and the United Kingdom, under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman who also played the violin, as he does tonight.
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
In 1975, the NAC Orchestra gave their first interpretation of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, under the baton of Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Pinchas Zukerman led performances of this symphony several times during his tenure as Music Director of the Orchestra, and the ensemble’s most recent performance took place in 2016 with Rafael Payare on the podium.
The NAC Institute for Orchestral Studies (IOS) was established under the guidance of former NAC Orchestra Music Director Pinchas Zukerman, and is in its 12th season. During selected main series weeks of the 2018–2019 season, IOS apprentices rehearse and perform with the NAC Orchestra. The IOS is proudly supported by the RBC Emerging Artist Project with additional support by the NAC’s National Youth and Education Trust.
A custom-designed uOttawa – NAC Orchestra Institute for Orchestral Studies pilot project has been initiated as the result of a longstanding partner-ship between the University of Ottawa School of Music and the National Arts Centre. Five outstanding uOttawa string students have been selected for three‑week apprenticeships during the 2018–2019 NAC Orchestra season. These apprentices will play in rehearsals, with the potential of also performing in concert with the Orchestra in their weeks. You may see one or more uOttawa apprentices performing during various weeks of the season. We welcome them on our stage!
Learn more about the Institute for Orchestral Studies
Born in Mühlhausen (near Prague), Bohemia (today Nelahozeves, Czech Republic), September 8, 1841
Died in Prague, May 1, 1904
The genial, carefree spirit of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 has endeared it to generations of concertgoers. Its prevailing happy spirit, idyllic moods and evocations of nature and simple rustic life call to mind other symphonies of a pastoral nature: Beethoven’s Sixth, Schumann’s Spring Symphony (No. 1), Schubert’s Fifth, Mahler’s Fourth and Brahms’s Second.
Dvořák began work on his Eighth Symphony in late August 1889. He was in high spirits and full of creative confidence. He “complained” to a friend that his head was so full of ideas that it was a pity it took so much time to jot them down. “Melodies simply pour out of me.” For this reason, it took him only 12 days to write the composition sketch for the first movement, a week for the second, four days for the third and six for the finale. The orchestration required an additional six weeks. Three months after commencing work on it, the score was ready for the printer, who, in this exceptional case, was not the usual Simrock, but the English firm of Novello. Dvořák conducted the first performance on February 2, 1890 in Prague.
It used to be fashionable to dub this work Dvořák’s “English” Symphony, but the composer himself dedicated the score “To the Bohemian Academy of Emperor Franz Josef for the encouragement of art and literature, in thanks for my election.” The symphony does indeed reflect the composer’s renewed interest in Czech nationalism, and with its dedication to the Academy, the title “Bohemian” would seem more appropriate. Dvořák composed it at his summer home in Vysoká, where the natural beauty and rustic charm of his native country worked its way through the soul of the symphony.
The conditions under which this work was written compare very closely to those under which Brahms composed his Second Symphony. In the case of both composers, we find a symphony of warmly lyric, relaxed character following one darkly serious and grim. To carry the analogy further, both compositions were written in an idyllic countryside setting, which both composers credited with stimulating their creative urges to a greater degree than usual. Still another parallel with Brahms can be noted. Both composers were invited to receive an honorary Doctorate from Cambridge University – Brahms in 1876, and Dvořák in 1891. Brahms declined; he had little tolerance for academic formalities, and he simply couldn’t be bothered to make the trip to England (a personal appearance was mandatory for conferral of the degree). Dvořák accepted, and offered as his “exercise” the recently completed Symphony in G major.
On his sixth trip to England, he attended the stuffy ceremony, but recalled the event in something less than glowing terms: “I shall never forget how I felt when they made me a Doctor in England. Nothing but ceremony, and nothing but doctors. All faces were serious, and it seemed to me as if no one knew any other language but Latin. I looked to the right and to the left, and I did not know to whom I was to listen. And when I realized that they were talking to me, I had quite a shock, and I was ashamed at not knowing Latin. But when I think of it today, I must laugh, and I think that to compose the Stabat Mater is, after all, more than equal to knowing Latin.” Like Brahms, Dvořák felt much more at home in the countryside of his homeland than in a university environment. As part of the presentation ceremony, Dvořák led the London Philharmonic in performances of his symphony and the Stabat Mater.
The symphony’s first movement presents analysts with a puzzle: What role does the opening nostalgic theme play? Is it the “first” theme, or an introduction? Is the “main” theme then the simple, birdlike tune played later by the flute? If so, what then does one call the warmly noble cello theme that follows the timpani’s “rat-a-tat” and the succeeding idea characterized by upward leaping octaves in the cellos? No matter, really. The point is that Dvořák did incorporate a great wealth of melody into this movement. One program annotator (Richard Freed) finds in it “an atmosphere of fairy tales and forest legends… bird calls, woodland sounds and bluff Slavonic marches.”
The second movement, like the first, opens with a nostalgic, rather solemn theme. A second idea in C major offers a new theme in the flute and oboe, accompanied by descending scales in the violins. An angry outburst from the horns leads to a brief, anxiety-filled passage, but sun, warmth and charm soon return.
The third movement is a graceful waltz, which frames a central trio section announced by a new theme in the flute and oboe. Dvořák borrowed this theme from his opera The Stubborn Lovers. The waltz returns, and a brief, energetic coda concludes the movement.
A trumpet fanfare opens the Finale, followed by a charming and carefree theme in the cellos. Simple and natural as the theme sounds, it caused Dvořák much difficulty. He wrote 10 different versions of it before he was satisfied. (Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” theme underwent a similar metamorphosis.) Dvořák then builds a set of variations on this theme, including an exuberant outburst from the full orchestra with trilling horns and scurrying strings. A central section in C minor presents a new march-like idea. When this subsides, Dvořák returns to the peaceful world of the principal theme, which undergoes further variations. A rousing coda brings the symphony to a brilliant close.
Program notes by Robert Markow
Pinchas Zukerman has remained a phenomenon in the world of music for over four decades. His musical genius, prodigious technique and unwavering artistic standards are a marvel to audiences and critics. Devoted to the next generation of musicians, he has inspired younger artists with his magnetism and passion. His enthusiasm for teaching has resulted in innovative programs in London, New York, China, Israel and Ottawa. The name Pinchas Zukerman is equally respected as violinist, violist, conductor, pedagogue and chamber musician.
Pinchas Zukerman's 2016-2017 season, his eighth as Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and his second as Artist-in-Association with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, includes over 100 concerts worldwide. In January 2017, he serves as Artistic Director of the Winter Festival for three weeks of concerts and educational residency activities with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Guest conducting and soloist engagements include the Cleveland Orchestra and Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal Symphonies, plus overseas appearances with the Berlin and Israel Philharmonics, Camerata Salzburg, Sydney Symphony, Korean Chamber Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Miyazaki Festival Orchestra. European recitals with pianist Yefim Bronfman and chamber concerts with the Zukerman Trio round out the season.
Over the last decade, Pinchas Zukerman has become as equally regarded a conductor as he is an instrumentalist, leading many of the world's top ensembles in a wide variety of the orchestral repertoire's most demanding works. A devoted and innovative pedagogue, Mr. Zukerman chairs the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music, where he has pioneered the use of distance-learning technology in the arts. In Canada, where he served as Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra from 1999-2015, he established the NAC Institute for Orchestra Studies and the Summer Music Institute encompassing the Young Artists, Conductors and Composers Programs. He currently serves as Conductor Emeritus of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, as well as Artistic Director of its Young Artists' Program.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1948, Pinchas Zukerman came to America in 1962 where he studied at The Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian. He has been awarded the Medal of Arts, the Isaac Stern Award for Artistic Excellence and was appointed as the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative's first instrumentalist mentor in the music discipline. Pinchas Zukerman's extensive discography contains over 100 titles, and has earned him 2 Grammy awards and 21 nominations. Recent releases include Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 and Double Concerto with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and cellist Amanda Forsyth, recorded in live performances at Ottawa’s Southam Hall, and an album of works by Elgar and Vaughan Williams with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Youth sticks with some people… Zukerman seems the forever-young virtuoso: expressively resourceful, infectiously musical, technically impeccable, effortless. As usual, it was a joy to be in his musical company.”
- The Los Angeles Times