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Program Highlight

The Drama of Ruy Blas on the San Francisco Symphony, September 2020


We don’t often think of Felix Mendelssohn as a composer of stage works, but from (age 10) 1820 to 1847 he actually composed a number of musical settings for dramatic works, one of which is the Overture to Ruy Blas that we will hear in the 9/15 broadcast of the San Francisco Symphony. The five-act historical drama by Victor Hugo is long, dark and convoluted, but the administrators for the Leipzig Theatrical Pension Fund were committed to presenting the work for a benefit concert and they asked Mendelssohn to write an Overture and vocal piece for the event.

9/1        Ravel:  Le Tombeau de Couperin Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3 Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 (Christian Tetzlaff, v; Michael Tilson Thomas, cond)

9/8        Wagner: Good Friday Spell from Parsifal Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 Mozart: Symphony No. 31, Paris Barber: Symphony No. 1 (Helene Grimaud, p; James Gaffigan, cond)

9/15      Mendelssohn:  Ruy Blas Overture Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 Wagner: Overture and Venusberg Music from Tannhauser, Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde (James Ehnes, v; Marek Janowski, cond)

9/22      Mahler: Symphony No. 7 (Michael Tilson Thomas, cond)

9/29      Stravinsky: Petrushka, Violin Concerto, Le Sacre du printemps (Leonidas Kavakos, v; Michael Tilson Thomas, cond)