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About the program

Ernő Dohnányi: Symphonic Minutes

The “muse” of the Symphonic Minutes comprising five short movements was the composer’s second wife, Elza Galafres, who previously enjoyed success in Vienna with the pantomime the Veil of Pierrette. Together with the Ruralia Hungarica movements, this work provided the music for the dance legend “Szent fáklya” (The Holy Torch).

Symphonic Minutes was heard for the first time on the eightieth anniversary of the Budapest Philharmonic Society Orchestra, together with five folk song arrangements by Bartók, accompanied by the orchestra, and Zoltán Kodály’s Dances of Galánta. Aladár Tóth wrote about Dohnányi’s composition: “This splendid bagatelle is nothing but harmony, shape and fluidity, where it is mischievous or capricious, it is still full of song; his esprit is always enthusiasm too, i.e. a divertimento which entertains the spirit but also refreshes the soul. It enchains and liberates…”

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 1 (C-Major)

Although the numbering of the Piano Concerto in C-major places it as the first of the piano concertos, based on its date it was by no means the composer’s first creation written in this genre. However, he was still polishing the second when the first piano concerto was already published and performed: the concerto in C-major premiered in April 1800 in the Burgtheater in Vienna.

Brahms: Symphony No. 4

“A pair of Entr’actes are to hand – such as together one commonly calls a symphony… I can’t stop thinking of the pleasure of starting the rehearsals with you. I don’t know whether a wider public will get to hear it. I fear it has the taste of the climate here – where the cherries never become sweet enough to eat!” – Brahms wrote to his friend Hans von Bülow about his fourth symphony he was preparing. The fears transpiring from the composer’s words, caused by the sombre notes of the piece, proved to be unfounded. Bülow’s famous orchestra from Meiningen performed the Symphony in E-minor in 1885 with great success, the last of the composer’s works in this genre.


Ernő Dohnányi: Symphonic minutes
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano concerto no.1 in C Major
Johannes Brahms: Symphony no.4 in e minor


Iván Fischer


Imogen Cooper, piano