The event is about 3.0 hours long.
About the event
The world-renowned Budapest Festival Orchestra is visiting China to perform works by two giants of Western European musical history, balancing on the border between the Classical and Romantic periods; Beethoven and Schubert. The grandiose music of these two composers of contrasting character will be formed into one unit under Iván Fischer, the leader of the ensemble. The sounds of the Egmont Overture, repeatedly a banner for revolutions throughout history, will paint a resolute and somber Beethoven at the beginning of the concert. The composer’s first symphony, legendary for the genre, will close the first half of the concert and, after the interval, Schubert's most important work, the landmark of Romanticism and his last completed symphony, will be performed.
Audiences are mainly familiar with the Overture to Ludwig van Beethoven’s incidental music for Goethe’s play, Egmont. Set during the Spanish Inquisition of 1567-1568, the drama is about the struggle for freedom. Beethoven was very much preoccupied with the ideal of freedom; just think of Fidelio, his only opera. That theme was particularly relevant to the composer, who lived in Vienna under French occupation, but victims of any oppression can identify with it. The composition, rich in orchestral colors, melodies and contrasts, is still emotionally stirring but also brings hope. The gloomy main theme represents the oppressive tyrant, but the work ends in heroic defiance and Egmont's execution and a glorious and celebratory mood.
It seems as if the year 1800 not only brought about the 19th century but also the Romantic era: That was the year when Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 was composed. The piece that, although not yet breaking the boundaries of the genre, already peeks out from them. The composition, which is the first milestone of a symphonic oeuvre of nine masterpieces. The work that follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, but is also unmistakably Beethovian. The composer makes his mark in the very first moment of the symphony, when he starts the opening movement with the “wrong” chord, or at least one unexpected by tradition. The slow introduction is followed by a main section of militant fanfares, lyrical passages and tart melodies. In the more relaxed and reserved music of the slow movement, subtleties in the arrangement include, for example, the flute, violins and percussion playing together. Considering its tempo and character, the third movement, referring - at least in its name – to Haydn’s minuets, already points the way forward to the world of scherzos, and leads to the finale bursting in “like a cat escaping from a bag”, a complex movement built on simple motifs.
After a first symphony, the program will be concluded by a last completed one. After his first six symphonies, Schubert had several attempts at the genre, but completed only one work, which is now known to us today as the ninth. It is not by chance that it is called “The Great”: it lasts one hour or. as Schumann put it, it is of “heavenly length”, breaking the limits set by classical standards; musicians and the public both needed a long time to get to grips with this grandiose work of art. The borderlines between the regularly shaped parts are blurred with amazing transitory passages. In the symphony, Schubert treats his instruments as human voices or as a choir, from the French horn’s motto in the introduction; to the march in a minor key in the slow movement burnishing into a breathtaking major key; to the tutti of the wind instruments in the Scherzo; to the Ode to Joy in the titanic Finale.