Most of the controversy surrounding the symphony is concerned with the real significance of the finale and particularly of its last few minutes, blatant with D major brass fanfares and battering drums. There is no doubt about the overwhelming sense of musical resolution here, but most verbal commentary has done little but confuse the issue. A constant problem with Shostakovich is that his own remarks should never be taken too seriously, for he notoriously said what people wanted to hear. The façade he presented was that of a cool professional, an efficient servant of the Soviet State, and on the occasion of the Moscow premiere he quoted an unnamed Soviet critic to the effect that his Fifth Symphony was “the practical creative answer of a Soviet artist to just criticism,” a phrase that was for many years accepted in the West as the composer’s own subtitle. The main outline of the post-Beethoven Romantic symphony, opening in conflict and arriving at a triumphant apotheosis, certainly allows an orthodox interpretation of the Symphony as a description of the creation of Soviet Man, and it was in these terms that Shostakovich spoke of it at the time: “I saw man with all his experiences in the centre of the composition...In the finale, the tragically tense impulses of the earlier movements are resolved in optimism and joy of living.” But in Testimony, the reminiscences attributed by Solomon Volkov to the sick and embittered composer towards the end of his life, this is all turned upside-down. “I think that it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth...it’s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying ‘Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,’ and you rise, shakily, and go off muttering ‘Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.’” - Program Note © Andrew Huth lONdON SyMphONy ORChESTRa The London Symphony Orchestra is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading orchestras. The LSO has an enviable family of artists, including LSO Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas and Daniel Harding as Principal Guest Conductors, and long-standing relationships with some of the leading musicians in the world—Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Mitsuko Uchida and Maria João Pires, among others. The LSO is proud to be Resident Orchestra at the Barbican, where it performs around 70 concerts a year. The LSO also enjoys successful residencies in New York, Paris and Tokyo. Regular tour destinations include the Far East, North America and all the major European cities. In late 2014, the Orchestra toured to Australia for the first time in more than 30 years and tonight’s performance forms part of an extensive tour of the United States with Michael Tilson Thomas, celebrating his 70th birthday with the Orchestra this year. The LSO is set apart from other international orchestras by the depth of its commitment to music education, reaching
more than 60,000 people each year. LSO Discovery enables the Orchestra to offer people of all ages opportunities to get involved in music-making. LSO On Track, a long-standing project involving young musicians from across London, has given a platform to talented teenagers to appear in the London Olympic Stadium, at outdoor concerts in Trafalgar Square, and also on Abbey Road recordings side-by-side with LSO musicians. The Orchestra is a world leader in recording music for CD, film and events. LSO Live is the most successful label of its kind and last year celebrated its hundredth release. Recordings are available globally on CD, SACD and online. The LSO has also recorded music for hundreds of films, including Philomena, The Monuments Men, four of the Harry Potter films, Superman and all six Star Wars movies. MIChaEl TIlSON ThOMaS, CONduCTOR Michael Tilson Thomas is Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. Born in Los Angeles, he is the third generation of his family to follow an artistic career.
about the artists
depth of feeling here: many at the premiere were reduced to tears by its controlled anguish. Much of the emotional power is due to the long, sustained melodic lines and restrained instrumentation. The brass instruments are all silent, even the quietly sustaining horns.
Mr. Tilson Thomas studied piano, conducting and composition at the University of Southern California and at the age of nineteen he was named Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra where he worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen and Copland on premieres of their compositions at Los Angeles’ Monday Evening Concerts. During this same period he was the pianist and conductor for Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz. In 1969, after winning the Koussevitzky Prize at Tanglewood, he was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. That year he also made his New York debut with the Boston Symphony and gained international recognition after replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert. He was later appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra where he remained until 1974. He was Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 1971 to 1979 and a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1981 to 1985. In February 1988, he inaugurated the New World Symphony, an orchestral academy for graduates of prestigious music programs and, in the same year, he became Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra —a post he held until 1995. He now enjoys a Principal Guest Conductor relationship with the LSO. Mr. Tilson Thomas became the Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1995. This season celebrates his 20th anniversary with the orchestra. His tenure has been broadly covered by the international press with feature stories in Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Times of London and The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, among many others.