From The BSO Archives: William Steinberg conducts Holst and Elgar
Boston Symphony Orchestra
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Available March 4 - April 3
The second of four archival programs featuring artists who enjoyed especially close relationships with the orchestra. All four programs were originally produced and distributed by Boston public broadcaster GBH for the iconic Evening at Symphony television series. Longtime CRB announcer Brian McCreath will serve as host for the archival BSO NOW streams.
The German-born conductor William Steinberg was the BSO’s Music Director from 1969 until 1972, succeeding Erich Leinsdorf. Steinberg, who founded the orchestra that became the Israel Philharmonic, was 70 when he took on his BSO role, and health issues limited his scope. He was known for his deeply musical, classically restrained approach to the repertoire. In these performances from 1969 and 1970, he leads music by two great composers from early 20th-century England. Opening the program is Gustav Holst’s “Mercury” from his most popular work, The Planets. Based on the astrological properties of the heavenly bodies, Holst’s suite covers immense expressive territory. “Mercury,” as one might guess, is a light and scherzo-like movement, as befitting the winged messenger of the Roman gods. Holst’s older colleague Edward Elgar was the most important composer in his country’s reclaiming of a national musical voice with such works as the Enigma Variations. "I have written out my soul" in the Symphony No. 2, he revealed to a friend. Dedicated to King Edward VII in memoriam, the Second is grand orchestral edifice that Elgar—in spite of the work’s melancholic shadows—referred to as his "spirit of delight" symphony.