Introduction

“Hallelujah!” wrote the euphoric Anton Bruckner in his compositional sketches at the point where the main themes of all parts of his eighth symphony are played simultaneously in the final metres of the work. Bruckner set the bar high when he began working on the symphony: his goal was to compose the greatest symphony of all time. The opening bars of his cathedral-sized eighth symphony invite listeners on a daring journey that is worth taking!

 

Susanna Mälkki

Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra since 2016 and Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2017, Susanna Mälkki is a regular guest with the world’s most illustrious orchestras and at such opera houses as La Scala, the New York Metropolitan and the Vienna State Opera. From 2006 to 2013 she was Artistic Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris on the invitation of Pierre Boulez and has conducted the premieres of works by many of the greatest contemporary composers. Beginning her career as a cellist and winning the Turku Cello Competition in 1994, she spent three years as principal cello in the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Susanna Mälkki is a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in France, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London and a member of the Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien in Stockholm.

www.susannamalkki.com

 

Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in C Minor

The music of Anton Bruckner (1824—1896) requires both time and the right attitude. His works are often likened to a walk in the mountains, sometimes hard-going but well worth the effort for the splendid scenery. He completed the first version of his Symphony No. 8 in 1887 and sent it to Hermann Levi the conductor. To his dismay, Levi replied that though he found many of the themes magnificent and direct, he could not possibly perform the symphony in its current form. Bruckner therefore revised it, and it was not premiered until 1892. Eduard Hanslick the renowned critic walked out after the third movement, but Hugo Wolf thought the symphony was wonderful. Various editions exist of the work, but tonight’s performance is of the one made by Leopold Nowak in the late 1940s.

Beginning in deepest darkness, the symphony ends in blinding light. Though the music is abstract, Bruckner did hint at a ‘programme’. The first movement suggests a clock that goes on ticking after someone has just died in the room. The second is packed with energy but the lyrical section tells, said Bruckner, of his insomnia. The slow third is a battle between faith and doubt, and the finale pictures a meeting between the Austrian Emperor and the Russian Tsar. The fanfares represent the cavalry. The final bars draw the main themes from all the movements together.

Artists

Susanna Mälkki
conductor

Programme

    19:00
    20:15
    Anton Bruckner
    Symphony No. 8 (1890, ed. Nowak)
Series IV
Musiikkitalo Concert Hall
Susanna Mälkki
Anton Bruckner
Symphony No. 8 (1890, ed. Nowak)