Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 21
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
This concert will feature one piece each by the three key figures of German classical music.
It is no coincidence that Mendelssohn was frequently compared to Mozart. He made his debut as a pianist when he was nine years old, and composed music regularly from the age of 12. He only decided to fully dedicated his life to music, however, at the age of 16. Until then, the exceptionally talented young Mendelssohn was interested in a variety of other things, including literature, languages, swimming, fencing and equestrianism. At the age of 17, he composed an overture to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a captivating mixture of fairy plays and folk comedies. He later composed a piece to serve as the musical accompaniment to the entire play using parts of the overture.
While Beethoven did not begin composing at such a young age as Mendelssohn, his talent was also quickly discovered; so much so that even as a child he was his family’s main breadwinner, thanks to the financial support provided by the Elector of Cologne. At the Prague debut of Piano Concerto No. 1, the 28-year-old Beethoven performed the piano parts himself. At the Festival Orchestra’s concert, they will be brought to life by Seong-Jin Cho, the 24-year-old South Korean piano prodigy who rose to international fame by winning the XVII International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015.
Brahms was born in the red-light district of Hamburg. His father was a bohemian musician, well-versed in multiple instruments, while his mother was a noblewoman 17 years his father’s senior. Just like Mendelssohn and Beethoven, Brahms’ talent was apparent very early in his life: at the age of 13, he was already playing music in harbour taverns for money and food. He was lifted out of poverty by Hungarian violinist Ede Reményi. The piece performed at the concert, Symphony No. 1, which took 20 years to compose, was not a great success in its time; its value was only recognised later by audiences.