James Ehnes: Beethoven's Violin Concerto | Concert Program

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Melbourne Symphony Orchestra


LIGETI Six Miniatures

Performed by MSO Woodwind and Brass

BARTÓK Divertimento for Strings

Performed by MSO Strings under Concertmaster Dale Barltrop

BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto

Directed by James Ehnes

Running time: approximately two hours including interval. Our musical Acknowledgment of Country, Long Time Living Here by Deborah Cheetham AO, will be performed at this concert.

Pre-concert events

Pre-concert talk: 17 & 19 October at 6:45pm in Stalls Foyer, Level 2 at Hamer Hall. Pre-concert talk: 18 October at 6:45pm at Robert Blackwood Hall.

Learn more about the performance at a pre-concert presentation with Megan Steller.

These concerts may be recorded for future broadcast on MSO.LIVE

Please note audience members are strongly recommended to wear face masks where 1.5m distancing is not possible. In consideration of your fellow patrons, the MSO thanks you for silencing and dimming the light on your phone.

Acknowledging Country

In the first project of its kind in Australia, the MSO has developed a musical Acknowledgment of Country with music composed by Yorta Yorta composer Deborah Cheetham AO, featuring Indigenous languages from across Victoria. Generously supported by Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and the Commonwealth Government through the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, the MSO is working in partnership with Short Black Opera and Indigenous language custodians who are generously sharing their cultural knowledge.

The Acknowledgement of Country allows us to pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land on which we perform in the language of that country and in the orchestral language of music.

About Long Time Living Here

In all the world, only Australia can lay claim to the longest continuing cultures and we celebrate this more today than in any other time since our shared history began. We live each day drawing energy from a land which has been nurtured by the traditional owners for more than 2000 generations. When we acknowledge country we pay respect to the land and to the people in equal measure.

As a composer I have specialised in coupling the beauty and diversity of our Indigenous languages with the power and intensity of classical music. In order to compose the music for this Acknowledgement of Country Project I have had the great privilege of working with no fewer than eleven ancient languages from the state of Victoria, including the language of my late Grandmother, Yorta Yorta woman Frances McGee. I pay my deepest respects to the elders and ancestors who are represented in these songs of acknowledgement and to the language custodians who have shared their knowledge and expertise in providing each text.

I am so proud of the MSO for initiating this landmark project and grateful that they afforded me the opportunity to make this contribution to the ongoing quest of understanding our belonging in this land.

Australian National Commission for UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 4
— Deborah Cheetham AO

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Established in 1906, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is Australia’s pre-eminent orchestra and a cornerstone of Victoria’s rich, cultural heritage.

Each year, the MSO engages with more than 5 million people, presenting in excess of 180 public events across live performances, TV, radio and online broadcasts, and via its online concert hall, MSO.LIVE, with audiences in 56 countries.

With a reputation for excellence, versatility and innovation, the MSO works with culturally diverse and First Nations leaders to build community and deliver music to people across Melbourne, the state of Victoria and around the world.

In 2022, the MSO’s new Chief Conductor, Jaime Martín has ushered in an exciting new phase in the Orchestra’s history. Maestro Martín joins an Artistic Family that includes Principal Guest Conductor Xian Zhang, Principal Conductor in Residence, Benjamin Northey, Conductor Laureate, Sir Andrew Davis CBE, Composer in Residence, Paul Grabowsky and Young Artist in Association, Christian Li.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra respectfully acknowledges the people of the Eastern Kulin Nations, on whose un‑ceded lands we honour the continuation of the oldest music practice in the world.

| 17–19 November 5
James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto

Jaime Martín

Chief Conductor

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Your MSO James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto | 17–19 November 6
Correct as of 7 November 2022 Learn more about our musicians on the MSO website


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# Position supported by

James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto | 17–19 November 7

James Ehnes director & violin

James Ehnes has established himself as one of the most sought-after violinists on the international stage. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favourite guest of many of the world’s most respected conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Marin Alsop, Andrew Davis, aStéphane Denève, Mark Elder, Iván Fischer, Edward Gardner, Paavo Järvi, Juanjo Mena, Gianandrea Noseda, David Robertson and Donald Runnicles. Ehnes’s long list of orchestras he has worked with include the Boston, Chicago, London, NHK and Vienna symphony orchestras, the Los Angeles, New York, Munich and Czech philharmonic orchestras, and the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Philharmonia and DSO Berlin orchestras.

Dale Barltrop concertmaster

Brisbane-born violinist, Dale Barltrop, is Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and First Violinist of the Australian String Quartet. He previously served as Concertmaster of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Canada and Principal Second Violin of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra in the United States, having performed with all of these orchestras as soloist and director.

Barltrop has also appeared as Concertmaster of the Australian World Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle, guest director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, ACO2 and the Camerata of St John’s chamber orchestra in Brisbane. He made his solo debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15, later moving to the United States in 1998 to attend the University of Maryland and continuing his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Barltrop performs on a violin crafted by JB Guadagnini, Turin, 1784. It is on loan from the Ukaria Cultural Centre and was purchased through the generosity of Allan J Myers AO, Maria J Myers AO and the Klein Family.

Concertmaster position supported by David and Angela Li

Concerto | 17–19 November 8
James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin

Program Notes


Six Minatures for Wind Ensemble (Arr. Friedrich K. Wanek)

I. Allegro con spirito

II. Rubato. Lamentoso

III. Allegro grazioso

IV. Presto ruvido

V. Adagio, mesto (Béla Bartók in memoriam)

VI. Molto vivace. Capriccioso György Ligeti was born in 1923 to a Hungarian-speaking Jewish family living in the city of Dicsőszentmártonin in Transylvania. These Miniatures for wind ensemble are based on the solo piano cycle Musica ricercata, written between 1951 and 1953. Ligeti arranged six of the eleven movements for wind quintet, and his colleague Friedrich K. Wanek expanded the instrumentation for ten players in 1975.

Though Ligeti’s musical career was just beginning in the early ‘50s, so much had already happened in his life. His hometown shifted from Romania to Hungary and back again, and he was placed in a Jewish forced-labor battalion during the Second World War. When the Russian Army pressed into the region, Ligeti escaped his work detail, evading both retreating Nazi and advancing Soviet forces until he could blend back in with the civilian population. He walked more than 300 miles home to find everyone gone. He later learned his father and younger brother had been killed in concentration camps, and his mother was the only family member to survive the Holocaust. He enrolled at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, a city still in ruins from the war. He hoped to study with Béla Bartók

– who was rumored to soon return from America – but the eminent Hungarian composer died of leukemia in New York at age 66, never making it home. Like Bartók, Ligeti loved folk music. But when the Communist government elevated it as a nearly mandatory style to emulate, he wanted to work against the system, and began to look for other ways of writing. Musica ricercata was a first step, written for his “lower drawer” – that is, Ligeti knew it could not be performed behind the Iron Curtain. But for him alone, it was a new beginning, built from the most basic musical elements. Each movement uses a limited number of pitches, gradually adding more as the cycle advances, as if rebuilding a musical language from scratch. It premiered in Sweden in 1969, a decade after Ligeti fled to Vienna by freighthopping on a mail train. He spent the rest of his career in Western Europe, and became widely known when his dense, atmospheric pieces were used in the films of Stanley Kubrick.

The Six Miniatures for winds starts with the third movement of the piano version, where Ligeti allows himself four pitches (E-flat, C, G, and E-natural). The Allegro con spirito is bright with skittering rhythms raising an excited alarm. The second movement, Lamentoso, builds out to six pitches, and offers a cold, severe contrast to the opening; the sharp dissonances in particular were forbidden in Hungary as “anti-socialist.” The Allegro grazioso arrives at a complete scale, a melancholy mixolydian in which the oboe plays an arching melody over a rapid-fire pattern. The very brief Presto throws down a brilliant dance. The eerie Mesto is dedicated to Bartók’s memory, and it echoes his style with nocturnal whirring and extreme dynamic contrasts. The finale, Molto vivace, builds up to 11 notes in zany chromatic writing, a kind of harmonic rebirth.

James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto | 17–19 November 9



Divertimento for Strings

I. Allegro non troppo

II. Molto adagio

III. Allegro assai

The intensity which shines from Bela Bartok’s eyes in photographs is hardly ever absent from his music. The title ‘Divertimento’, however, harks back to the music for pleasure of the 18th century. Bartok composed this piece with his usual fanatical thoroughness, but in circumstances unusually happy for him. It was commissioned by Swiss conductor Paul Sacher for the Basle Chamber Orchestra (Bartok had already written for Sacher the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion).

Late in 1938 Sacher asked Bartok for a work for smaller string orchestra. Sacher put at Bartok’s disposal for the summer of 1939 his chalet at Saanen, in the mountains of the Swiss canton of Bern. Saanen was a quiet and idyllic village outside the ski season, and the Sachers saw to it that the composer was undisturbed. Bartok wrote to his son that he felt like a musician of olden times, the invited guest of a patron of the arts. Under these serene conditions he composed the Divertimento in fifteen days. Within months of its completion, the death of his mother and political events in Hungary cruelly interfered with Bartok’s life.

The Divertimento was one of the last compositions Bartok finished before emigrating to the United States. Altogether one of his most accessible and enjoyable works, it shows that the tone of simplicity, directness, and warm humanity to be found in his American compositions had already entered his music before he left Europe.

The Divertimento benfitted from Bartok’s exploration of the possibilities of string

instruments in his third to sixth string quartets, and in the earlier work for Sacher’s orchestra. He wrote to his son that he was thinking of ‘some kind of concerto grosso, interchanging with a concertino’, and he makes much of the contrast of sonorities between the soloists’ group (string quartet plus double bass) and the main body of strings, but alternating more frequently between the two than did the 18th-century composers. The elegant style of that century is blended in the dance-inspired music of the Divertimento’s first and third movements, with the Verbunkos, or recruiting dance, a type of Hungarian folk music. All the melodic material has the modal character of Hungarian folk music. All the melodic material has the modal character of Hungarian tunes, and Bartok’s lifelong concern with the overall unity of each of his compositions is seen in the close relationship of the themes of the first and third movements.

The first movement has a relaxed character, but the themes are treated with typically ingenious combination and development (mainly using canons and other forms of imitation). The slow movement, in complete contrast, is sombre and almost tragic in feeling. It has been compared to a vision of a funeral procession, with sound effects Bartok uses elsewhere to suggest night, and cries and shrieks for violins and violas, expressing perhaps Bartok’s dread of war and fear for the future of Europe. The third movement is a fast folk dance, in rondo form. The interludes are free rhapsodies. After a passage of strict, learned imitation, the solo violin seems to thumb its nose at this music with a cadenza in gipsy style. The first theme is eventually turned into a polka dance with violin slides over plucked strings, a kind of café music, after which Bartok jerks the listener back to attention with a racing ending.

Concerto | 17–19 November 10
James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin


Violin Concerto in D, Op.61

I. Allegro ma non troppo

II. Larghetto –

III. Rondo (Allegro)

In December 1806, Johann Nepomuk Möser attended a benefit concert which he reviewed for the Wiener Theaterzeitung. He wrote that ‘the excellent Klement’, leader of the orchestra at the Theater an der Wien, ‘also played, besides other beautiful pieces, a Violin Concerto by Beethhofen, which on account of its originality and many beautiful parts was received with exceptional applause’. Well, we might say, quite. But Möser went on to note that the ‘experts’ were unanimous, ‘allowing it many beauties, but recognising that its scheme often seems confused and that the unending repetitions of certain commonplace events could easily prove wearisome’. While it was rumoured that the wife of a 20th century virtuoso used quietly to sing ‘At last it’s over, at last it’s over’ to the tune of the finale, it is still hard to imagine how the critics back then got it so wrong and why there was only one other documented performance during Beethoven’s life. (It was not until Joseph Joachim took the piece up in 1844, that it gained any currency at all.) Beethoven himself may have felt that the work had no future, as he made a version for piano and orchestra for the pianist, composer and publisher Muzio Clementi soon after the premiere. Then again, the soloist at the premiere had played one or two lollipops of his own composition (one, according to legend, with the instrument upside down) between the first and second movements, which, though not unusual practice, must have broken the spell. And to be fair, Beethoven, who had been working at tremendous speed

in the latter half of 1806, only delivered the score at the last minute leaving little, if any, time for rehearsal. He had finally completed the first version of his opera Fidelio and then in quick succession composed the Fourth Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto, the three ‘Razumovsky’ string quartets, the Violin Concerto and one or two other things before the end of the year.

We often describe the early years of the nineteenth century as Beethoven’s ‘heroic decade’ as the music includes works such as the Eroica and Fifth Symphonies that dramatise seemingly titanic struggles and epic victories on a scale unimagined by previous composers. It is almost too easy to see this as reflecting Beethoven’s own heroic response to the deafness which began to hamper his professional and personal life at the time; it may also reflect radical upheavals in European society: Napoleon’s armies occupied Vienna three times in the course of the decade. But the period also produced works of great serenity – especially the Fourth Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto and the Violin Concerto. They remain largescale works, but their emotional worlds are far from the violent tensions of the odd-numbered symphonies. Beethoven had toyed with the idea of a Violin Concerto in the early 1790s: there exists a fragmentary first movement in C, and it is possible that one of the Romances in F or G was intended as a slow movement for the uncompleted work. While he may have abandoned the early concerto, by the time of the D major work he had nonetheless had composed nine of his ten sonatas for piano and violin. From the 1802 Op.30 set on, he invested these with the same complexity of emotion and expanded scale that we have noted in the symphonies and string quartets. But Beethoven’s interest in the concerto medium was, until 1806, primarily in

| 17–19 November 11
James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto

composing works for himself as soloist – the first four piano concertos; after that time his hearing loss made concerto playing too risky.

At one remove, as it were, in this work he could concentrate on the problem of reconciling the principles of symphonic composition – which stress dramatic contention and ultimate integration of contrasting thematic material – and concerto composition, which adds the complication of pitting the individual against the mass.

In the Violin Concerto Beethoven uses a number of gambits to bring about this synthesis. As in a number of works of this period, the Violin Concerto often makes music out of next to no material: the opening five drum taps, for instance, are a simple reiteration in crotchets of the key note (D). This gesture, seemingly blank at the start, returns several times during the movement, most strikingly when the main material is recapitulated: there the whole orchestra takes up the motif. Similarly, the larghetto slow movement has been famously described by Donald Tovey as an example of ‘sublime inaction’ –nothing seems to be happening, though in fact subtle changes and variations of material stop the piece from becoming monotonous. The seemingly improvised transition into the last movement was not so much to preclude Clement from playing something with his teeth or behind his back, but to dramatise the gradual change from that immobility to the release of energy in the finale. Throughout the work Beethoven plays expertly with our expectations: the soloist only enters after a fully symphonic introduction, and only then with an ornamental flourish, rather than any thematic material. The beautiful second theme is, as Maynard Solomon notes, perfectly composed to exploit the richness of the lowest string of the instrument, but the soloist only gets

that theme at the movement’s end. This large scale plotting of the work allowed Beethoven to expand the scale of the violin concerto beyond all expectations, and lay the foundation for the great concertos of Brahms and Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius.

Concerto | 17–19 November 12
James Ehnes: Beethoven’s
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Alan Egan JP

Gunta Eglite

Marguerite Garnon-Williams Drs L C Gruen and R W Wade

Louis J Hamon AOM

Carol Hay

Jennifer Henry Graham Hogarth Rod Home

Tony Howe

Lindsay and Michael Jacombs Laurence O’Keefe and Christopher James

John Jones

Grace Kass and the late George Kass Sylvia Lavelle

Pauline and David Lawton Cameron Mowat

Ruth Muir

David Orr

Matthew O’Sullivan

Rosia Pasteur

Penny Rawlins

Joan P Robinson

Anne Roussac-Hoyne and Neil Roussac

Michael Ryan and Wendy Mead

Andrew Serpell and Anne Kieni Serpell

Jennifer Shepherd Suzette Sherazee

Dr Gabriela and Dr George Stephenson

Pamela Swansson

Lillian Tarry

Tam Vu and Dr Cherilyn Tillman Mr and Mrs R P Trebilcock

Peter and Elisabeth Turner

Michael Ulmer AO

The Hon. Rosemary Varty

Terry Wills Cooke OAM and the late Marian Wills Cooke Mark Young

Anonymous (19)

The MSO gratefully acknowledges the support of the following Estates:

Norma Ruth Atwell

Angela Beagley

Christine Mary Bridgart

The Cuming Bequest

Margaret Davies Neilma Gantner

The Hon Dr Alan Goldberg AO QC Enid Florence Hookey Gwen Hunt

Family and Friends of James Jacoby Audrey Jenkins

Joan Jones Pauline Marie Johnston C P Kemp Peter Forbes MacLaren

Joan Winsome Maslen Lorraine Maxine Meldrum Prof Andrew McCredie Jean Moore

Maxwell Schultz Miss Sheila Scotter AM MBE Marion A I H M Spence Molly Stephens

Halinka Tarczynska-Fiddian Jennifer May Teague Albert Henry Ullin Jean Tweedie

Herta and Fred B Vogel Dorothy Wood

19 Supporters


Mary Armour

The late Hon Michael Watt KC and Cecilie Hall

Tim and Lyn Edward Kim Williams AM Weis Family


John and Lorraine Bates

Colin Golvan AM KC and Dr Deborah Golvan

Sascha O. Becker

Maestro Jaime Martín

Elizabeth Proust AO and Brian Lawrence

The Kate and Stephen Shelmerdine Family Foundation

Michael Ullmer AO and Jenny Ullmer Jason Yeap OAM – Mering Management Corporation


Life Members

Mr Marc Besen AC

John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC

Sir Elton John CBE

Harold Mitchell AC

Lady Potter AC CMRI

Jeanne Pratt AC

Michael Ullmer AO and Jenny Ullmer Anonymous

Artistic Ambassadors Tan Dun Lu Siqing

MSO Ambassador

Geoffrey Rush AC

The MSO honours the memory of Life Members

Mrs Eva Besen AO

John Brockman OAM

The Honourable Alan Goldberg AO QC Roger Riordan AM Ila Vanrenen



David Li AM

Co-Deputy Chairs

Di Jameson

Helen Silver AO

Managing Director

Sophie Galaise Board Directors

Shane Buggle

Andrew Dudgeon AM

Danny Gorog

Lorraine Hook

Margaret Jackson AC David Krasnostein AM Gary McPherson

Hyon-Ju Newman Glenn Sedgwick Company Secretary Oliver Carton

The MSO relies on your ongoing philanthropic support to sustain our artists, and support access, education, community engagement and more. We invite our supporters to get close to the MSO through a range of special events.

The MSO welcomes your support at any level. Donations of $2 and over are tax deductible, and supporters are recognised as follows:

$500+ (Overture)

$1,000+ (Player)

$2,500+ (Associate)

$5,000+ (Principal)

$10,000+ (Maestro)

$20,000+ (Impresario)

$50,000+ (Virtuoso)

$100,000+ (Platinum)

20 Supporters

Get closer to the Music

Become an MSO Patron

Help us deliver an annual Season of musical magic, engage world-renowned artists, and nurture the future of Australian orchestral music by becoming an MSO Patron.

Through an annual gift of $500 or more, you can join a group of like-minded musiclovers and enhance your MSO experience. Be the first to hear news from the MSO and enjoy exclusive MSO Patron activities, including behind-the-scenes access, special Patron pre-sales, and events with MSO musicians and guest artists.

To find out more, please call MSO Philanthropy on (03) 8646 1551, or join online by clicking the button below. Thank you for your support.


Maestro Jaime Martín, Chief Conductor Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Thank you to our Partners Government Partners Principal Partner Premier Partners Supporting Partners Education Partner Venue Partner Major Partners Quest Southbank Bows for Strings Ernst & Young Orchestral Training Partner

Trusts and Foundations


Erica Foundation Pty Ltd, The Sir Andrew and Lady Fairley Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts, Scobie & Claire Mackinnon Trust, Perpetual Foundation – Alan (AGL) Shaw Endowment, Sidney Myer MSO Trust Fund, The Ullmer Family Foundation

Media and Broadcast Partners
Foundation Victoria