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…”
Prokofjev: Piano Concerto No. 3
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26 is the best-known concerto by Sergei Prokofiev. It was completed in 1921 using sketches first started in 1913. Prokofiev began work on the concerto as early as 1913 when he wrote a theme with variations which he then set aside. Although he revisited the sketches in 1916–17, he did not fully devote himself to the project until 1921 when he was spending the summer in Brittany.
Prokofiev himself played the solo part at the premiere on 16 December 1921 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frederick Stock. The work did not gain immediate popularity and had to wait until 1922 to be confirmed in the 20th century canon, after Serge Koussevitzky conducted a lavishly praised performance in Paris. The first Soviet performance was on 22 March 1925, by Samuil Feinberg, with the Orchestra of the Theatre of the Revolution under Konstantin Saradzhev.
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.