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Christoph von Dohnányi conducts Haydn, Ligeti and Tchaikovsky featuring BSO principal flutist Elizabeth Rowe and BSO Principal oboist John Ferrillo 

Christoph von Dohnányi conducts Haydn, Ligeti and Tchaikovsky featuring BSO principal flutist Elizabeth Rowe and BSO Principal oboist John Ferrillo 

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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For the final subscription series concerts of 2019-20, the eminent German conductor Christoph von Dohnányi makes a welcome return to Symphony Hall after an absence of nearly five years. He and the orchestra are joined by two soloists from within the BSO’s ranks, principal flute Elizabeth Rowe and principal oboe John Ferrillo, for György Ligeti’s intense, atmospheric Double Concerto for Flute, Oboe, and Orchestra, which they performed together with Dohnányi and the BSO in 2011. Haydn Symphony No. 12, dating from 1763, opens the program; the BSO has never performed this charming symphony from early in Haydn’s career. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, Pathètique, was the last piece the composer wrote. Concerned, like Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and Fifth symphonies, with the idea of fate, the Pathètique is a powerfully expressive piece that ends, unusually, with a substantial slow movement.

Featured Performers

Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor
Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor View biography in full page >

Christoph von Dohnányi is recognized as one of the world's most distinguished conductors. He started his career as assistant to Sir George Solti in Frankfurt and after four years became the youngest General Music Director in Germany, in Lübeck in 1957. He was opera director and GMD at the Frankfurt Opera and Intendant and Chief Conductor at Hamburg State Opera. He was chief conductor at the WDR Sinfonie Orchestra in Cologne and the NDR Sinfonie Orchestra in Hamburg, as well as Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, and Principal Guest Conductor and Musical Adviser of L'Orchestre de Paris.

Maestro von Dohnanyi served as sixth Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1984 to 2002 having been appointed Music Director Designate in 1982. He conducted the orchestra in subscription concerts, in semi-staged concert version opera performances at Severance Hall, and on domestic and international tours to Asia and Europe. He initiated a project conducting world premieres of composers from the Cleveland area. The renovation and the extension of Severance Hall, the founding of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Youth Chorus were significant achievements during his era as Music Director.

He recorded numerous works with the Cleveland Orchestra: CD releases by Decca feature wide ranging repertoire with works by Mozart, Mahler, Bruckner, Dvorak, Strauss, Ives, Varese, Bartok, Adams, Ruggles, Webern, Ran, Shostakovich and all Schumann symphonies. A compilation of all Beethoven symphonies was recorded by Telarc, and a collection of all Brahms symphonies by Teldec. Live radio broadcast recordings were released by the Cleveland Orchestra, one set in celebration of the orchestra's 75th anniversary and one commemorative box upon finishing his tenure in Cleveland representing his 20 years as Music Director. In 2002 he was named the first Music Director Laureate of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Since ending his tenure in Cleveland Christoph von Dohnányi has been a regular guest conductor with the Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as the Cleveland Orchestra.

Maestro von Dohnányi is Honorary Conductor for Life of the Philharmonia Orchestra. This longstanding partnership began in 1994 when he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor and subsequently became Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser. In addition to concerts at the South Bank Centre and in venues around England, Dohnányi and the Philharmonia have performed in Europe's musical centers like the Musikverein in Vienna, the Salzburg Festival, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, the Lucerne Festival and in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs Elyseés. For several seasons they were in residence at the Théâtre du Châtelet presenting new productions of Strauss's Arabella, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Die schweigsame Frau, Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel. His final tour as Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia led them to the U.S., with concerts in Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco and at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

In summer seasons, Maestro von Dohnányi is a frequently seen guest at the Tanglewood Music Festival leading concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra including, among many others, the opening concert of the 75th anniversary season of Tanglewood. He conducted the Tanglewood Music Center's 2010 production of Ariadne auf Naxos and in 2013 a performance with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra of Mahler's Symphony no.1. At the Ravinia Festival he led the Chicago Symphony in two all Brahms programs in 2011 and a pair of all Beethoven concerts in 2013.

Last season, Mo. von Dohnányi toured with the Philharmonia Orchestra in Europe and conducted the gala concert in London celebrating the orchestra's 70th anniversary. Dohnányi conducts the Orchestre de Paris this season, and leads subscription weeks with the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and the Boston, Chicago, and Sydney Symphony Orchestras. On May 8, 2016, he led a special concert marking the end of World War II in Europe, leading the Vienna Smphony Orchetra in works by Schoenberg and Beethoven.

His conducting schedule permitting, Maestro von Dohnányi also works with student orchestras of institutions like the New England Conservatory in Boston, Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, the Juilliard School in New York, the Cleveland Institute of Music and, during the summer, at the Tanglewood Music Center.

In November 2013 exceptional events marked his collaboration with the Philharmonia. By invitation of HRH Prince Charles they performed a birthday concert in Buckingham Palace with an all Wagner program, honoring the composer's 200th birthday. The University of London held a ceremony bestowing on Dohnanyi the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa, by the Royal Academy of Music.

He has been a frequent guest conductor in concert with the Vienna Philharmonic and at the Vienna State Opera. Herbert von Karajan and his successor Gerard Mortier invited him to the Salzburg Festival. There he led the Vienna Philharmonic in productions of Der Rosenkavalier, Salome, Cosi fan Tutte, Erwartung, Bluebeard's Castle, Die Zauberflöte, and in the world premieres of Henze's Die Bassariden and Cerha's Baal. He also led the Cleveland Orchestra in concerts at the Große Festspielhaus and Felsenreitschule in Salzburg.

For London/Decca he recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic a variety of symphonic works by Schubert, Strauss, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, all Mendelssohn symphonies and a number of operas, including Beethoven's Fidelio, Berg's Wozzeck and Lulu, Schoenberg's Erwartung, Strauss' Salome, and Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. During opera director Alexander Pereira's tenure Dohnanyi regularly appeared at the Opernhaus Zurich conducting new productions of Strauss's Die Schweigsame Frau, Ariadne auf Naxos, Salome, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, Mozart's Idomeneo, Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Berg's Wozzeck, Schoenberg's Moses und Aron and Wagner's The Flying Dutchman.

Maestro von Dohnányi has conducted at the world's great opera houses, including Covent Garden, La Scala, the Vienna State Opera, Berlin, Paris and in the US at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera in Chicago. At the Vienna State Opera he conducted the new production of the Ring des Nibelungen in 1992/93. At the Deutsche Oper Berlin he led the first performance of Henzes Der junge Lord. Herbert von Karajan invited him regularly to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

He was invited by Wieland Wagner to conduct Tannhäuser und Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Bayreuth Festival, however, after Wieland Wagner's death these contracts were not realized.

Christoph von Dohnányi was born in Berlin in 1929 and studied music in Munich, finishing his studies at the Hochschule für Musik with the award of the Richard Strauss prize of the City of Munich; and at Florida State University with his grandfather, pianist and composer Ernst von Dohnányi. He completed his studies in the US by attending a conducting class at Tanglewood in 1952.

Among his many honors Christoph von Dohnányi has received honorary doctorates of Music from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, Oberlin College of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Kent State University and Case Western Reserve University, London's Royal Academy of Music, and an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, and the Anti-Defamation League's Torch of Freedom Award. He is the recipient of the Goethe plaque of the city of Frankfurt, the prize of Wissenschaft and Forschung of the city of Hamburg and the Bartok medal in Hungary. He is a member of the Order of Arts and Letters of France, and received the Verdienstkreuz of the Republic of Austria and the Bundesverdienstkreuz of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor Elizabeth Rowe, flute
Elizabeth Rowe, flute View biography in full page >

BSO principal flutist Elizabeth Rowe joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2004 and holds the Walter Piston Principal Flute Chair. Prior to joining the BSO, she held titled positions with the orchestras of Fort Wayne, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. Regularly featured in front of the orchestra, Ms. Rowe has been soloist with the BSO in Ligeti’s Double Concerto for flute and oboe with conductor Christoph von Dohnányi and BSO principal oboe John Ferrillo (a collaboration to be repeated in the closing concerts of the BSO’s 2019-20 subscription season); the American premiere of Elliott Carter’s Flute Concerto; Mozart’s G major flute concerto, K.313 (with which she made her first BSO appearance as a concerto soloist); Mozart’s C major concerto for flute and harp with BSO principal harpist Jessica Zhou (including a performance on tour with the orchestra in Tokyo); Gabriela Lena Frank’s Illapa, Tone Poem for Flute and Orchestra; Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and Strings; Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 2 and 5; and Leonard Bernstein’s Ḥalil (in the BSO’s Opening Night all-Bernstein program under Andris Nelsons in September 2017 and at Tanglewood in July 2018 under Herbert Blomstedt). Noted for her insightful teaching, Ms. Rowe attracts flute students from around the country to her lessons and master classes. She works regularly with students at the New England Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Center and is a frequent guest artist at the New World Symphony. She previously taught at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and University of Maryland. As a member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, she can be heard in a wide variety of chamber works throughout the season at NEC’s Jordan Hall and in several recordings. Elizabeth Rowe grew up in Eugene, Oregon. She received her bachelor of music degree from the University of Southern California, where she was a Trustee Scholar and a student of Jim Walker, former principal flute of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Ms. Rowe’s connection to the Boston Symphony Orchestra dates back to the summer of 1996, when she was a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow and performed as principal flute under Seiji Ozawa’s direction in the TMC production of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes that marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opera’s 1946 American premiere at Tanglewood. For more information, please visit iamelizabethrowe.com.

Visit bostonsymphonychamberplayers.org for more information about the Boston Symphony Chamber Players.

Elizabeth Rowe, flute
John Ferrillo, oboe
John Ferrillo, oboe View biography in full page >

John Ferrillo joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as principal oboe at the start of the 2001 Tanglewood season, occupying the Mildred B. Remis Principal Oboe Chair, having appeared with the orchestra several times in previous seasons as a guest performer. From 1986 to 2001 he was principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Mr. Ferrillo grew up in Bedford, Massachusetts, and played in the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute, where he studied with John de Lancie and received his diploma and artist’s certificate. He also studied with John Mack at the Blossom Festival and has participated in the Marlboro, Craftsbury, and Monadnock festivals. Prior to his appointment at the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Ferrillo was second oboe of the San Francisco Symphony, and was a faculty member at Illinois State University and West Virginia State University. A former faculty member of the Mannes School of Music and Juilliard School of Music in New York City, he has taught and performed at the Aspen and Waterloo festivals and currently serves on the faculties of the New England Conservatory, Boston University, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. His previous BSO appearances as soloist have included Ligeti’s Double Concerto for flute and oboe, with BSO colleague Elizabeth Rowe, which they will perform again on the final subscription concerts of the current season; Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds, Timpani, Percussion, and Strings, also with BSO colleagues; Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto; two collaborations with violinist Pinchas Zukerman at Tanglewood in music of J.S. Bach; Wayne Barlow’s The Winter’s Past, led by Leonard Slatkin in a 2014 Tanglewood program celebrating the conductor’s 70th birthday; Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat for oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon, K.297b, with BSO colleagues on the opening program of the 2014-15 season; and, most recently, in May 2018, Marcello’s Concerto in C minor for oboe and strings with Moritz Gnann conducting. As principal oboe of the BSO, Mr. Ferrillo is also a faculty member at the Tanglewood Music Center and a member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, with whom he can be heard in BSO Classics recordings of Mozart’s Quartet in F for oboe and strings, K.370; William Bolcom’s Serenata Notturna for oboe and strings, and Dutilleux’s Les Citations for oboe, harpsichord, double bass, and percussion. 

Visit bostonsymphonychamberplayers.org for more information about the Boston Symphony Chamber Players.

John Ferrillo, oboe
Program Notes Audio
HAYDN - Symphony No. 12
LIGETI - Double Concerto for Flute, Oboe, and Orchestra
TCHAIKOVSKY - Symphony No. 6, Pathétique (48 min)