About the event
Could we ever get tired of the warmth-exuding music of Haydn and Mozart, the energetic way in which Gábor Takács-Nagy conducts the orchestra, or the sound of Ilya Gringolts’s Stradivarius? Those who have already heard the Viennese classicism specialist conduct, or just talk about, the music of the two Austrian masters will know that his series with the Festival Orchestra can only be described by words like freshness, dynamism, sparkle, surprise and creativity. This concert will be framed by a rather fiery Haydn symphony and another one paying tribute to a deceased friend. Between the two, one of the most popular violin concertos, Mozart’s virtuoso piece will be performed with the solo of Ilya Gringolts, a former student of Itzhak Perlman and the first violinist of the Gringolts Quartet, who plays the instrument called the “Kiesewetter”.
As opposed to his own traditions, instead of a slow introduction, Haydn’s Symphony No. 59 immediately starts with the main part exploding like fireworks, and that in itself would be enough for it to earn the nickname “Fire”. However, the piece written in 1769 was nicknamed after a specific event long after it had been composed, in the middle of the 1770s. It was performed in the Esterházy Court during the interval of Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Grossman’s play, The Fire, and that was when it received its name. In any event, the title of the theatrical symphony, a typical piece of the Sturm und Drang movement with its wild passages, astonishing shifts in dynamics and unusual diversions into different keys is rather befitting.
Mozart, having gradually explored the boundaries and technical limits of the violin concerto bade farewell to the genre when he completed his fifth, just shy of his 20th birthday. In addition to the orchestral apparatus and the key, the operatic character also connects the piece to Haydn’s Fire Symphony: here the solo violin behaves like a prima donna when in the first movement instead of blending in with the material prepared by the orchestra, it immediately grabs the opportunity for an aria-like introduction for six bars. In the slow movement, we can hear one of the most beautiful singing melodies of Mozart. Also known as “Turkish,” the concerto ends with a finale that truly does evoke Turkish, or perhaps even Verbunkos or other Hungarian motifs.
After the intermission, the BFO will be joined by timpani as well as a sizable wind section, necessary to perform Haydn’s Symphony No. 99. Clarinets are also prescribed, which provide the whole work with an unusual layer of mellowness. For the composer, accustomed to private concerts in royal courts, England’s capital and the paid concerts performed for the public were a tremendous experience. He composed this piece in 1793 for his second hugely successful tour in London. The overture with some complicated key changes is followed by a painful slow movement paying tribute to Haydn’s friend, Marianne von Genzinger, who had passed away not much earlier. After a traditional minuet, the symphony concludes with a lively rondo.
Did you know? Haydn’s Fire Symphony was composed around 1768, Mozart’s violin concerto premiered in Salzburg at Christmas 1775, Haydn’s Symphony No. 99 in London on February 10, 1794; the Fire Symphony was last performed by the Festival Orchestra in Budapest on January 9, 1999 (conductor: Kirill Karabits), the violin concerto in Budapest on January 31, 2015 (soloist: Pinchas Zukerman, conductor: Iván Fischer), Symphony No. 99 in Budapest on January 27, 2001 (conductor: János Kovács).
Contemporary events Mozart wrote his opera Bastien and Bastienne in 1768 at the age of 12 / the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published in 1768 / Emanuel Swedenborg Swedish philosopher and theologian published his work Love in Marriage in 1768 / James Cook English explorer completed his second three-year journey in 1775, during which he managed to prove that the unknown ‘Terra Australis’ is only a myth / in 1775 one of the most prominent work of art of the Baroque architecture in Transylvania, the Bánffy Castle was built in Kolozsvár (today: Cluj Napoca) / on January 20, 1775 the second version of the Czech composer Josef Mysliveček’s opera Demofoonte premiered in Naples / the leaders of the Hungarian Jacobin movement, including Ignác Martinovics and József Hajnóczy were arrested in 1794 / William Blake English painter and poet painted The Ancient of Days in 1794 / The Foundations of the Science of Knowledge by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the German philosopher was published in 1794