Presented by Audi

Louis Lortie Returns

& Roderick Cox conducts Beethoven's Eroica

2023-10-25 20:00 2023-10-26 23:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Louis Lortie Returns

In-person event

French-Canadian pianist Louis Lortie makes a welcome return to Southam Hall for two nights only, to perform some of the most beautiful music ever written for piano and orchestra.  Since 1980, Louis Lortie has appeared in Southam Hall or with the NAC Orchestra nearly 50 times, including on the Orchestra’s 1995 European tour and its 1992 Canadian tour. Tonight, Lortie performs Mozart’s Rondo in D major for Piano and Orchestra. A rondo, known for its recurring refrain alternating...

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Southam Hall,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
October 25 - 26, 2023

≈ 2 hours · With intermission

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Last updated: October 25, 2023


SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR Ballade in A minor for Orchestra, Op. 33 (12 min)

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Rondo in D major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 382 (10 min)

GABRIEL FAURÉ Ballade for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 19 (14 min)


LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, “Eroica” (47 min)

I. Allegro con brio
II. Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace
IV. Finale: Allegro molto



Ballade in A minor for Orchestra, Op. 33

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) was an English composer, likely the first modern composer of African descent to achieve national and international fame. Despite earning the acclaim of critics and audiences and the respect of many composers and musicians during his lifetime, he was largely forgotten after his death. His works were rarely performed and his significant contributions to British and American musical life have been overlooked in music history sources. Undoubtedly, systemic racial prejudice, which the composer himself endured even though he attained “mainstream” success, has played a part. Fortunately, since the late 1990s, scholars and performing artists have steadily worked to shed light on Coleridge-Taylor’s life and music through research and in the concert hall.

The son of a physician from Sierra Leone and a British woman from London, Coleridge-Taylor was musically precocious from a young age. His talent attracted patrons who supported his formal education in violin and composition at the Royal College of Music, which he entered at age 15. During his studies, performances of his own compositions drew the attention of British music critics, and of significant English composers like Edward Elgar. He also became well known in the United States; indeed, Coleridge-Taylor’s contact with African American cultural figures, like the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, sparked in him a deep and sustained interest in African American history and his own West African heritage, the themes and elements of which he incorporated in much of his later music. Alongside his composing career, Coleridge-Taylor taught at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Trinity College of Music, as well as conducted concerts on both sides of the Atlantic. He led London’s Handel Society from 1904 until 1912, when, at age 37, tired and overworked, a bout of pneumonia claimed his life. 

Coleridge-Taylor composed his orchestral Ballade in A minor, in 1898, the year after he graduated from the RCM. It was his first major commission, and no less a figure than Elgar made it happen. Too busy to write a “short orchestra thing” proposed by the prestigious Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester, Elgar wrote to the organizers, “I wish, wish, wish you would ask Coleridge-Taylor to do it. He still wants recognition, and he is far and away the cleverest fellow going amongst the young men. Please don’t let your committee throw away the chance of doing a good act.”

The Ballade was completed in three months, with its first performance eagerly anticipated by the press. Rehearsals of the piece were attended by notable composers including Hubert Parry, Arthur Sullivan, and Elgar, who remarked to August Jaeger of the music publishing firm Novello (and a supporter of Coleridge-Taylor’s) that “I liked it all and loved some and adored a bit.” When Coleridge-Taylor conducted the premiere at Gloucester’s Shire Hall, it was an immediate success. Among the many papers featuring reviews, The Standard reported that the Ballade was a “remarkable and striking work” that “seems to glow with intensity and life, and it holds the attention with relentless grasp”, while The Daily Graphic noted that “it is long since a Festival novelty has provided 15 minutes packed so full of excitement and charm.”

The Ballade begins boldly, with an extended trill in the flutes and clarinets against which the strings introduce a vigorous motif, punctuated by horns and timpani. Woodwinds follow with a muscular theme, soon restated by the whole orchestra. These themes alternate in turn, creating a fiercely energetic opening, which then transitions into a contrasting section featuring a tender, lyrical melody. First sung by muted violins and violas, it later soars to passionate heights, and subsides. Thereafter, the material from the first section returns for further development, building to a noisy climax (with cymbal crashes). More iterations of the themes ensue, including a striking transformation of the vigorous motif, its sharp edges now smoothed out into an expressive song, which eventually leads into a full reprise of the lyrical section. Following that, the opening materials appear once more, undergoing additional variation; soon, the mounting tension peaks on an expanded version of the first motif, filled in with upward-rushing scales, after which the orchestra whooshes downward to a fiery conclusion.


Rondo in D major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 382

In 1781, Mozart (1756–1791) finally got his wish to be formally released from service to the Archbishop of Salzburg, Hieronymus Colleredo. For the better part of a decade, he had been working for the archbishop in a permanent position providing music for the church and the court. Initially, Mozart was eager to fulfil his duties but, over time, Colloredo placed restrictions on the composition of instrumental music—an artform that was fast gaining popularity and prestige at public concerts—thus dampening the composer’s enthusiasm and creative freedom. Now at liberty to work as he wished, Mozart was keen to establish himself in Vienna as a freelance artist—performing, composing, and teaching.

An opportunity for him to make his name arose on March 3, 1782. On that day, Mozart had secured a venue (possibly the Burgtheater) to stage his first public “academy” (or concert). With such occasions being rare and finances tight, success was crucial, so he followed the recommendations of his friends as to the type of repertoire that would be most appealing to the Viennese public. The program would feature the best extracts from his Munich opera Idomeneo, one of his piano concertos (with him as the soloist), and improvisations to close.

For his concerto, Mozart selected K. 175 in D major. Composed in 1773 (thus, early in his time at Salzburg), it was the first original concerto he wrote. A personal favourite, he had already performed it in Munich in 1774 and Mannheim in 1778 to great success. But to unequivocally win over the Viennese audience, he felt it needed revision, so he penned a new third movement for K. 175: the Rondo, K. 382. The revised work was a triumph, and it was clear the Rondo was the reason. As Mozart reported to his father three weeks after the concert, “I am sending you…the last rondo which I wrote for my concerto in D major and which is making such a big noise in Vienna. Please guard it like a jewel—and not give it to anyone to play. […] I wrote it specially for myself—and no-one else but my dear sister may play it.” In the ensuing years, he played the concerto with its new finale many more times to enthusiastic reception.

K. 382 replaces the more cerebral, contrapuntal sonata-form finale of K. 175 with a set of variations based on a tuneful theme. (Mozart also adds a flute to the original instrumentation.) As musicologist and Mozart specialist Simon Keefe has noted, its appeal lies in several aspects. For one, Mozart used a popular tune (later known as “Fleuve du Tage”) that his audience would have recognized. The tune’s simplicity, in turn, offered Mozart great scope for invention, enabling him to show off, in the variations, the “brilliant and expressive sides of his virtuoso persona,” which was vital in establishing himself as a performer-composer.

Furthermore, the Rondo exhibits a combination of simplicity and complexity that would have attracted both the educated “connoisseurs” and the less informed listeners that Mozart identified in his audience. The latter would have enjoyed his varied treatment of the pleasing tune, while the former, who were interested in following musical structure and argument, would have been intellectually challenged by the way the variations unfold. Despite its title, K. 382 is not quite a standard rondo alternating a recurring refrain and episodes but plays on formal expectations through the placement of certain variations that depart only slightly from the theme so they sound like a refrain. For example, following the fourth variation in the minor mode, the fifth variation feels akin to a rondo-like reprise of the theme.

Mozart also arranged his variations into three sections of different tempos: Allegretto grazioso, which contains the theme and the first five variations; Adagio (variation 6); and Allegro (variation 7 in lilting triple time, plus a solo cadenza, written by Mozart). A final return to the theme’s original duple meter and tempo ultimately leads into the Rondo’s brilliant close. Considering this larger structure, the Rondo is like a mini concerto unto itself, thus making it viable to be performed as an independent work. Indeed, by 1785, the Wiener Zeitung featured ads by the Viennese music dealer Lorenzo Lausch offering the Rondo as a standalone publication. For Mozart, the success of K. 382 was a turning point—never again would he write a sonata-form finale for any of his concertos.

Gabriel Fauré

Ballade for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 19

French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) is perhaps better known today for his solo piano pieces and works for chamber ensemble than his orchestral music. Despite an œuvre dominated by more intimate genres of composition, Fauré is nevertheless regarded as among the most progressive composers in France in his time, developing a personal style that anticipated many of the musical innovations in melody, harmony, and form adopted by early 20th-century composers. His Op. 19 Ballade, first completed for solo piano in 1879, then a version for piano and orchestra in 1881, is a significant work in this respect. Its distinctive appeal not only helped to make him well known, but also paved the way for the modern movement of musical “impressionism”, as epitomized in the suggestive and atmospheric works of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

This Ballade, considered an early masterpiece, shows Fauré taking various modern musical techniques in form, melody, and harmony, and making them his own. Primary influences included Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, whose music his teacher Camille Saint-Saëns had introduced to him during his studies. (The Ballade is dedicated to Saint-Saëns.) As Fauré biographer Jessica Duchen has pointed out, it was Liszt’s “idiosyncratic experiments with form and his deep yet sensual spirituality and poetic instinct” that inspired the French composer. Indeed, the Ballade’s innovative structure owes something to Lisztian concepts of form and thematic transformation: it consists of three initial sections, each developing its own theme, after which the music culminates in a final section in which two of the themes are combined in a kind of apotheosis.

A tender song (Andante cantabile) in the key of F-sharp major opens the piece, first presented by the piano after which it’s reprised with solo flute in canonic imitation. After a brief transition, the piano proceeds with a contrasting episode in E-flat minor (Allegretto moderato), featuring a restless second theme characterized by a descending scale that is passed from one hand to the other amidst intricate counterpoint. As the piano continues, the song from the first section appears in the orchestra; this is later taken up by the piano, which then winds through delicate arpeggios as solo clarinet, then strings restate the second theme.

An Andante interlude follows, in which the flute intones a rocking motif that becomes the main tune of the third section—a sprightly Allegro in B major. Here, the piano is further unleashed to play sparkling figuration, while the new tune and the descending figure of the restless second theme are developed together. A brief cadenza-like passage with trills brings us to another Andante interlude—with a gently undulating melody that is a variation of the third tune—which is really a preface to the final section, the Allegro molto moderato. Although now back in F-sharp major, Fauré employs frequent harmonic shifts to create a magical atmosphere, in which the undulating melody and the descending second theme are intertwined amidst bird-like trills, chirping figures, and glittering passages. His source of inspiration was the “Forest Murmurs” episode in Richard Wagner’s opera Siegfried from the Ring cycle (Fauré saw it in its entirety while he was working on the Ballade), in which the young hero sits in silent reverie, enchanted by the sounds of the forest. Like the music in that scene, Fauré’s “impression of nature” in his Ballade also evokes, as Duchen aptly describes, “a sense of innocent wonder and freedom.”


Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, “Eroica”

I. Allegro con brio
II. Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace
IV. Finale: Allegro molto

Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony is today considered an established masterpiece of the orchestral repertory but it’s always fruitful to consider—and hear—its significance afresh. Its creation, between 1802 and 1804, was closely connected to events in the composer’s own life—he had just weathered a personal crisis concerning his deafness. Out of his stoic acceptance of his physical condition (the thought process of which he outlined to his brothers Carl and Johann in his famous Heiligenstadt Testament from October 6, 1802) emerged his choice of a heroic subject for this symphony, and more importantly, a new direction in his compositional style to convey it. Beethoven’s novel way of using the components of symphonic music itself (orchestration, structure, melodic and harmonic character, rhythmic movement, etc.) to express a symbolic narrative—in this case, a hero’s journey of facing and overcoming adversity with courage and optimism—imbues an otherwise abstract artform with a new emotional power for audiences.

In this vein, it’s worth mentioning that Beethoven’s creation of this symphony, as various scholars have shown, is bound up with the music of his Op. 43 ballet, Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus). Notably, Beethoven used the theme from the ballet’s finale as the first theme for the symphony’s finale. But the ballet’s subject—about the mythic titan, Prometheus, and later stole fire from the gods to ennoble humankind with his gifts of art and knowledge, an act for which he was severely punished—is symbolically reflected in the symphony’s overall narrative arc as well: its four movements can be interpreted to outline, respectively, Prometheus’s struggle, death, rebirth, and apotheosis.

In his “Eroica” Symphony, Beethoven introduced several innovations to Classical symphonic form. Particularly significant is his expansion—and sometimes, disruption—of the formal conventions of each movement in the work. The first movement is substantial in scope, with a central development section that is much longer than the opening exposition, and a coda (closing section) that is almost like another development section. In the second movement, the elegiac funeral march is recapitulated with the addition of a fugato and a surprise episode. The string “chatter” and the first theme of the Scherzo alternate several times, quietly, before reaching a triumphant statement of the latter. And the playful finale’s variations are based on not one, but two themes, with a large central section that incorporates a fugue and a double fugato.

Importantly, these structural innovations serve to accommodate moments of tension that are set up and resolved in the music, thereby evoking aspects of the hero’s journey. For example, new thematic material does not usually appear in the development section of sonata form. However, in the first movement of the “Eroica”, the introduction of a new theme, in the distant key of E minor, seems dramatically inevitable, following a cataclysmic climax ending on a silence; the theme is later recalled in the coda. Sometimes, the resolution occurs in a later movement: the mysterious descent—E-flat to D to C-sharp—in the symphony’s opening theme is finally clarified when its ascending counterpart (which Beethoven labelled “a strange voice” in his sketches)—D-flat to D to E-flat—appears, in the clarinet, then flute, near the end of the third movement. With this aspect resolved, the finale is free to embody the process of creation itself; as noted Beethoven scholar William Kinderman has pointed out, from the bare bones of the bass theme arises a series of variations that “extol the imagination and its transformative possibilities”, which in turn, relate to the myth of Prometheus as the creator of humankind. Such aspects are what give the “Eroica” Symphony its considerable expressive power.

Program notes by Hannah Chan-Hartley, PhD


  • Conductor Roderick Cox
  • Piano Louis Lortie
  • Featuring NAC Orchestra
  • stage manager Tobi Hunt McCoy


NAC Orchestra

First Violins
Yosuke Kawasaki (concertmaster)
Jessica Linnebach (associate concertmaster)
Noémi Racine Gaudreault (assistant concertmaster)
Jeremy Mastrangelo
Marjolaine Lambert
Emily Westell
Manuela Milani
Zhengdong Liang
*Erica Miller
*Martine Dubé
*Oleg Chelpanov
*Heather Schnarr

Second Violins
*Jeffrey Dyrda (guest principal)
Emily Kruspe
Frédéric Moisan
Carissa Klopoushak
Leah Roseman
Winston Webber
Mark Friedman
Karoly Sziladi
Edvard Skerjanc
*Andréa Armijo Fortin
*Renée London

Jethro Marks (principal)
David Marks (associate principal)
David Goldblatt (assistant principal)
Paul Casey
David Thies-Thompson
Tovin Allers
*Sonya Probst

Rachel Mercer (principal)
**Julia MacLaine (assistant principal)
Leah Wyber
Marc-André Riberdy
Timothy McCoy
*Desiree Abbey
*Karen Kang
*Thaddeus Morden

Double Basses
Max Cardilli (assistant principal)
Vincent Gendron
Marjolaine Fournier
*Paul Mach
*Talia Hatcher

Joanna G'froerer (principal)
Stephanie Morin
*Lara Deutsch

Charles Hamann (principal)
Anna Petersen

English Horn
Anna Petersen

Kimball Sykes (principal)
Sean Rice

Darren Hicks (principal)
Vincent Parizeau

*Nicholas Hartman (guest principal)
Julie Fauteux (associate principal)
Lawrence Vine
Lauren Anker
Louis-Pierre Bergeron
*Olivier Brisson

Karen Donnelly (principal)
Steven van Gulik
*Antoine Mailloux

*Steve Dyer (guest principal)
Colin Traquair

Bass Trombone
Zachary Bond

Chris Lee (principal)

*Hamza Able (guest principal)

Jonathan Wade

Principal Librarian
Nancy Elbeck

Assistant Librarian
Corey Rempel

Personnel Manager
Meiko Lydall

Orchestra Personnel Coordinator
Laurie Shannon

*Additional musicians
**On leave

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees