The outstanding must-see concert events of the season! The National Arts Centre welcomes London’s internationally acclaimed Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in two extraordinary concerts conducted by Pinchas Zukerman January 16: The RPO with violin soloist Pinchas Zukerman
January 17: The combined forces of the RPO and the NAC Orchestra, with violin soloist Pinchas Zukerman

London’s renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) – now celebrating their 65th season – comes to Ottawa on January 16 and 17, 2012. National Arts Centre Orchestra Music Director Pinchas Zukerman is the Principal Guest Conductor of the RPO, and he will conduct both concerts as well as perform as violin soloist both evenings. Both concerts take place at 8 p.m. in the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall.

The first concert features Maestro Zukerman conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the first NACO Great Performers concert of the 2011-2012 season. Pinchas Zukerman is also the violin soloist in the demanding Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 by Beethoven. The evening’s program includes:
BEETHOVEN  Egmont Overture, Op. 84
BEETHOVEN  Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
ELGAR  Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra, Op. 36 “Enigma”

This performance is made possible through the generous support of Margaret and David Fountain, Halifax, NS.
The second concert on January 17 features Maestro Zukerman conducting the combined forces of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. In the first half of the concert, the RPO performs Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G major, Op. 26, with Pinchas Zukerman performing as violin soloist. The second half of the concert features both the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra performing Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 by Berlioz, an orchestral tour de force.
BRUCH  Violin Concerto No. 1 in G major, Op. 26
BERLIOZ  Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14  

Acknowledged as one of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra enjoys an international reputation for bringing audiences worldwide first-class performances and the highest possible standards of music-making across a diverse range of musical repertoire. This was the vision of the Orchestra’s flamboyant founder Sir Thomas Beecham, whose legacy is maintained today as the Orchestra thrives under the exceptional direction of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Maestro Charles Dutoit, and Principal Guest Conductor Pinchas Zukerman, who was appointed to the position in 2009.

(January 16 concert) Egmont, Op. 84, by Ludwig van Beethoven, is a set of incidental music pieces for the 1787 play of the same name by Goethe. It consists of an overture followed by a sequence of nine additional pieces. Beethoven wrote it in1809-10, and it was premiered on 15 June 1810. The subject of the music and dramatic narrative is the life and heroism of a 16th-century Flemish nobleman, the Count of Egmont. Composed during the Napoleonic Wars, when the French Empire had extended its domination over most of Europe, the music for Egmont embodied all the themes Beethoven most cherished: freedom, courage, brotherly love, defiance of tyranny, and heroic struggle against oppression. The Overture later became an unofficial anthem of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. The music was greeted with great praise and Goethe himself declared that Beethoven had expressed his intentions with “a remarkable genius”.

(January 16 concert) Beethoven’s sole contribution to this genre was a landmark -- longer and more complex than any previous work of its kind, and eclipsing all predecessors in symphonic thought and expansiveness. The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 was written in 1806 and premiered on 23 December in Vienna. Beethoven wrote the concerto for his colleague Franz Clement at the violin virtuoso’s request. The deeply lyrical quality of this concerto, the finesse of its phrases and its poetry all reflect the attributes of Clement’s playing, which according to contemporary accounts was marked by perfect intonation, suppleness of bow control, “gracefulness and tenderness of expression” and “indescribable delicacy, neatness and elegance.” The concerto was little performed in the following decades, but was successfully revived in 1844, well after Beethoven's death.

(January 16 concert) Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra ("Enigma"), Op. 36, commonly referred to as the Enigma Variations, is a set of a theme and fourteen variations written by Edward Elgar in 1898–1899. It is Elgar's best-known large-scale composition -- for both the music itself and the enigmas behind it – and its success put the composer firmly on the musical map. Elgar dedicated the piece to “my friends pictured within”. The people portrayed in the variations include his wife Alice and Elgar himself. The enigma is not the identity of the persons portrayed, as those are known, but rather a hidden theme that is, in Elgar's words, "not played". Elgar was pleased with his little joke, taking the secret with him to the grave. The piece was first performed in London on 19 June 1899. Critics were at first irritated by the layer of mystification, but most praised the substance, structure, and orchestration of the work. Elgar revised the final variation and the new version was first played on 13 September 1899, with Elgar conducting. 

(January 17 concert) Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26, is one of the most popular violin concertos in the repertoire. It continues to be performed and recorded by many violinists and is arguably Bruch’s most famous composition. The concerto was first completed in 1866 and the first performance was given on 24 April 1866 with Bruch himself conducting. The concerto was then considerably revised with help from celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim and completed in its present form in 1867. The fate of the score: Bruch sold the score to the publisher Simrock outright for a small lump sum -- but he kept a copy of his own. At the end of World War I, he was destitute, having been unable to enforce the payment of royalties for his other works due to chaotic worldwide economic conditions. He sent his autograph to the duo-pianists Rose and Ottilie Sutro (for whom he had written his Concerto in A flat minor for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Op. 88a, in 1912), so that they could sell it in the United States and send him the money. Bruch died in October 1920, without ever receiving any money. The Sutro sisters decided to keep the score themselves, but they claimed to have sold it, and sent Bruch's family some worthless German paper money as the alleged proceeds of the alleged sale. They always refused to divulge any details of the supposed purchaser. In 1949, they sold the autograph to Mary Flagler Cary, whose collection, including the Bruch concerto, now resides at the Pierpont Morgan Public Library in New York

(January 17 concert) Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties (Fantastic Symphony: An Episode in the Life of an Artist, in Five Parts), Op. 14, is a symphony written by Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences worldwide. The first performance took place in Paris in December 1830. The work was repeatedly revised between 1831 and 1845 and subsequently became a favourite in Paris. The symphony tells the story of “an artist gifted with a lively imagination” who has “poisoned himself with opium” in the “depths of despair” because of “hopeless love.” The romantic background story is that Berlioz had fallen in love with an Irish actress, Harriet Smithson, after attending an 1827 performance of Hamlet with Smithson in the role of Ophelia. He sent her numerous love letters, all of which went unanswered. When she left Paris they had still not met. He then wrote the symphony as a way to express his unrequited love. It premiered in Paris on 5 December 1830 – but Harriet was not present. She eventually heard the work in 1832 and realized that she was the inspiration for the symphony. Berlioz and Smithson finally met, fell in love, and were married in October 1833. Sadly, there is no happy ending. Their marriage was increasingly bitter, and they separated after several years of misery.

These performances are made possible through the generous support of Margaret and David Fountain, Halifax, N.S.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra appears as part of the Great Performers Series at 8 p.m. on Monday January 16, 2012 in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre. Tickets are $25, $36.59, $49.50, $58.11, $68.88, $79.64, and $95.78, for adults and $14, $19.80, $26.25, $30.56, $35.94, $41.32, and $49.39 for students (upon presentation of a valid student ID card).
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra perform at 8 p.m. on Tuesday January 17, 2012 in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre. Tickets are $26.50, $41.50, $54.40, $64.15, $77.30, $87.30, and $98.50, for adults and $14.75, $22.25, $28.75, $33.58, $40.15, $45.15, and $50.75 for students (upon presentation of a valid student ID card).
Tickets are available at the NAC Box Office (in person) and through Ticketmaster (with surcharges) at 613-755-1111; Ticketmaster may also be accessed through the NAC’s website

Subject to availability, full-time students (aged 13-29) with valid Live Rush™ membership (free registration at may buy up to 2 tickets per performance at the discount price of $12 per ticket. Tickets are available online ( or at the NAC box office from 10 a.m. on the day before the performance until 6 p.m. on the day of the show or 2 hours before a matinee. Groups of 10 or more save 15% to 20% off regular ticket prices to all NAC Music, Theatre and Dance performances; to reserve your seats, call 613-947-7000, ext. 634 or e-mail

Discover the new NACmusicbox TIMELINE: 200 orchestral works, 80 Canadian compositions, 1 interactive TIMELINE that provides a visual representation of our rare online archival collection and encourages the exploration of music connections. The NACmusicbox TIMELINE has been specifically designed to showcase the works of Canadian composers within the history of orchestral music and offers cross-curricular content with classroom-ready activities and lesson plans developed by teachers for teachers. Visit today.
The National Arts Centre gratefully acknowledges the financial investment by the Department of Canadian Heritage in the creation of this online presentation for the Virtual Museum of Canada.
We also thank our partner CBC Radio 2 for generously providing broadcast-quality recordings of the NAC Orchestra’s archival performances.

For additional information, visit the NAC website at
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Information:  Gerald Morris
Communications Officer, NAC Music
613-947-7000, ext. 335

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