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Brahms and Schumann featuring Christian Zacharias as both conductor and pianist

Brahms and Schumann featuring Christian Zacharias as both conductor and pianist

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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The German pianist and conductor Christian Zacharias returns to Symphony Hall as both conductor and pianist in a rarity for piano and orchestra by Robert Schumann, his Introduction and Allegro appassionato, which his wife Clara premiered with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig in 1850. The BSO has only played it on two occasions, both at Tanglewood more than 50 years ago. Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 was actually the second symphony he wrote. He completed its original version in 1841, just after finishing his Symphony No. 1, but was dissatisfied with it, publishing its revised, final form only a decade later. Schumann’s use of recurring thematic ideas creates an innovative, interconnected overall form. Opening the program is Brahms’ five-movement Serenade No. 2, substantial in length but generally light in mood, like the Classical-era serenades that were the composer’s models. Brahms omits violins from the orchestra for this piece, resulting in a mellow, dark-hued tone.

Featured Performers

Christian Zacharias, conductor and piano
Christian Zacharias, conductor and piano View biography in full page >

“One must ‘speak’ music…” Christian Zacharias is a narrator among the conductors and pianists of his generation. In each of his elaborate, detailed and clearly articulated interpretations, it’s clear what he means: Zacharias is interested in what lies behind the notes.

With a unique combination of integrity and individuality, brilliant linguistic expressiveness, deep musical understanding and a sure artistic instinct, paired with his charismatic and engaging artistic personality, Christian Zacharias has established himself not only as a world-class pianist and conductor, but also as a musical thinker. Numerous acclaimed concerts with the world’s best orchestras and outstanding conductors as well as multiple honors and recordings characterize his international career.

Since the 2017/18 season, Christian Zacharias holds the position of Principal Guest Conductor with the Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, presenting among other things a focus on the music of Robert Schumann. Schumann’s music forms a central point in Zacharias musical work, appearing in further programs in Toulouse, Madrid, Gävle and Barcelona. In addition, in the 2018/19 season he continues his cooperation with the English Chamber Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, among others as well as concerts in international music centers in Paris, Lyon, Moscow and the much-acclaimed Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. This season he presents classical works by Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn et al. as well as works from Schoenberg and Bruckner.

Christian Zacharias started his season at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York with an all-Mozart program, and will continue to dedicate himself to the composer’s work further in Bremen and Gothenburg. In addition to a few selected piano recitals, he will continue to present his piano lectures in venues such as Wigmore Hall in London.

Zacharias’ longtime musical partners include the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Berlin Konzerthausorchester and the Bamberger Symphoniker. He’s also developed a special love of opera and has directed productions of Mozart’s La Clemenza the Tito and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène. The production of Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, which he conducted at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège, was awarded the “Prix de l’Europe Francophone” 2014 by the Association Professionnelle de la Critique Théâtre, Musique et Danse in Paris.

Since 1990, various films have also been produced featuring Christian Zacharias: “Domenico Scarlatti in Seville”, “Robert Schumann – the Poet Speaks” (both for INA, Paris), “Zwischen Bühne and Künstlerzimmer” (for WDR-arte), “De B comme Beethoven à Z comme Zacharias “(for RTS, Switzerland) as well as the complete Beethoven piano concertos (for SSR-arte).

The musical work of Christian Zacharias has been honored many times, for example with the Midem Classical Award “Artist of the Year” 2007, the honorable award “Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” of the French state and a tribute from Romania for his services to culture. In addition, Christian Zacharias was appointed a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 2016, and in 2017 received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg.

Numerous internationally acclaimed recordings were made during his time as Principal Conductor of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra. Particularly noteworthy are the recordings of the complete Mozart piano concertos – awarded the Diapason d’Or, Choc du Monde de la Musique and ECHO Klassik – as well as the complete Schumann symphonies.

In 2015 and 2017, Zacharias was chairman of the jury of the Clara Haskil Competition, and in 2018 president of the jury of the Geza Anda Competition where he also conducted the final concert.


Christian Zacharias, conductor and piano
Program Notes Audio
BRAHMS - Serenade No. 2 (34 min)
SCHUMANN - Introduction and Allegro appassionato, for piano and orchestra
SCHUMANN - Symphony No. 4 (30 min)