Music for me is absolutely everything!
Martin Pavluš — trumpet · PATRON OF THE CONCERT | photo: Milan Mošna
The Story of the Third Symphony
From the outset, the story of Anton Bruckner’s Third Symphony is full of intrigue and unexpected twists and turns. When the thirty-eight-year-old composer discovered the work of Richard Wagner, almost overnight this modest church musician became a bombastic symphonist and fanatical admirer of Wagner, who did not hesitate to approach Wagner, asking if he could dedicate his Second or Third Symphony to him. The maestro himself was to choose. When the gentlemen met in Munich in 1865 they drank so much that in the morning Bruckner could not remember which symphony he was supposed to dedicate to Wagner! So he wrote a humble letter to the maestro asking him whether it was the symphony in D minor where the theme begins with the trumpet. “Yes! Best wishes!” replied Wagner, who from then on would refer to Bruckner always as “Bruckner the trumpet”. The first version of the symphony contained several obvious quotes from Wagner’s operas. Naturally, the composer reworked it several times and gradually deleted the Wagner references. In any case, today it is called the Wagner Symphony, albeit that in the version from 1877, which you will hear the PKF — Prague Philharmonia play on 11 September, Wagner’s music was more of an inspiration.
The premiere of this expansive work faced difficulties from the very start. The composer, who was famous for his predilection for counting the number of bricks and windows of houses and the number of bars in his gigantic scores in order to ensure their proportions were statistically correct, had to take up the baton himself for the premiere as the original conductor, Johann von Herbeck, had died a month before the concert. This in itself augured badly as Bruckner certainly did not have any of Herbeck’s qualities. On top of this, the players of the Vienna Philharmonic also rebelled against the symphony. The premiere was met with a flood of derision from the audience as well as the orchestra, and by the end only 17 people remained in the hall! Amongst them was the then 17-year-old Gustav Mahler, who was so taken by the work that a few months later he would write out the piano score for it. Several decades later, Alma Mahler packed away the first three movements of the original score into her suitcase when she fled from the Nazi invasion of France to the USA in 1940. The work has survived the test of time and today the Third Symphony is seen as a breakthrough in Bruckner’s symphonic work. To this day the introductory page of the score contains the composer’s lofty dedication: “To the eminent excellency, Richard Wagner, to the unattainable, world-famous, and exalted Master of poetry and music, in deepest reverence.”
Don’t miss the grand opening to the 26th season!
On 11 September you will hear Beethoven’s final piano concerto “the Emperor”. And I believe there will be something regal about the whole concert! With its Art Nouveau style, the Smetana Hall of the Municipal Hall very much suits such a distinguished programme for the opening of the 26th concert season, and what’s more, it will be conducted by our chief conductor, Emmanuel Villaume.
In fact, am very much looking forward to playing under him. The way he has taught us all to listen properly, to deliver the music and play as one person, is immensely instructive and inspirational. I am also looking forward to Simon Trpčeski, with whom we will play for the first time ever, though from his recordings he sounds like a truly first-class pianist and musician.
In the second half is Anton Bruckner’s Third Symphony which requires a much larger orchestra. I am curious as to how we’ll deal with it. You can always tell when there is something unusual or exceptional for all of the players. I personally prefer playing in a larger ensemble – it is a challenge both in terms of sound and harmony, and I enjoy the enormous power of the complete orchestra.
It will certainly be a grand opening to the new season and I am very glad to be part of it!
Martin Pavluš — trumpet · PATRON OF THE CONCERT
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major Op. 73 ‘Emperor’
Symphony No. 3 in D minor WAB 103 ‘Wagner-Symphonie’
Simon Trpčeski — piano
Emmanuel Villaume — conductor