Hall: Concert Hall
Subscription: C1 - Symphonic concerts, Z1 - Golden subscription
Price: 25-80 zł
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, a brilliant composer and harpsichordist in the service of the flutist‑ king Frederick II, was valued by the monarch most likely only as an accompanist, since his own original music went far beyond his employer’s conservative tastes. As a composer, Bach was more highly regarded outside the royal court. It was most likely with public concerts in mind that he wrote his symphonies which – along with those by Joseph Haydn – proved to be milestones in the genre’s development. He won special fame with his cycle of Sinfonien mit zwölf obligaten Stimmen Wq 183 (Wq 183), created already after his escape from the ungrateful Berlin court to Hamburg and printed with a dedication to Frederick William, heir to the Prussian throne.
Many famous pieces of music are known under secondary titles which do not come from the composers themselves. On CD covers, the splendid Andante from Piano Concerto in C Major frequently bears the subtitle ‘Elvira Madigan’. Was this some important woman in Mozart’s life? Not at all. She was a 19th‑ century Danish circus acrobat (real name: Hedvig Jensen). Her brief life, full of adventures and love affairs, is the subject of a Swedish film by Bo Widerberg (1967), whose soundtrack includes this wonderful Andante (featuring Géza Anda on the piano). The film contributed to the popularity of the piece and – though now forgotten and only sporadically broadcast on TV – its title became closely linked with Mozart’s Concerto.
Undaunted by the rather indifferent reception of his Symphony No. 1, Beethoven soon began to write his Second. In the meantime, his life was affected by a dramatic discovery – the first symptoms of losing his hearing. He suffered a breakdown, reflected in his shocking letter to his brothers of 6th October 1802 (never delivered to its addresses), known as the ‘Heiligenstädter Testament’. It is hard to believe that almost exactly in the same period he wrote a piece as joyful and cheerful as his Symphony No. 2! It was interpreted as an escape from the feeling of dejection and from thoughts about his illness. An important formal innovation is the replacement of the minuet with a scherzo.