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Tomas Cohen Photography

Luisi Conducts Brahms' Third

Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra Concert
Friday, June 30, 2023 at 6pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

Acclaimed Israeli violinist Maxim Vengerov makes his Bravo! Vail debut, performing Mendelssohn’s revered Violin Concerto with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in a program that includes BrahmsSymphony No. 3, led by Music Director Fabio Luisi

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra delivers uplifting, entertaining, and enriching musical experiences worldwide. This summer, the Orchestra returns to Bravo! Vail with a rich lineup that includes classical favorites and exciting pops programs.

All artists, programs, and pricing are subject to change.​

Program Details

Fabio Luisi, conductor 

Maxim Vengerov, violin 

MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto 

BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 

Guest Artists

Fabio Luisi


Maxim Vengerov


Program Notes

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844)

(22 minutes)


Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
     Allegro molto appassionato [attacca]
     Andante [attacca]
     Allegretto ma non troppo—Allegro molto vivace


Through a curious coincidence, composerand-pianist Felix Mendelssohn and violinist Ferdinand David were born in the very same house in Hamburg about a year apart. The families moved from their respective apartments, but they became re-acquainted in 1825, after the Mendelssohns had acquired a dilapidated mansion in Berlin, which they restored to its former glory. There the Mendelssohns hosted Sunday salons at which Felix and his sister Fanny could try out their latest compositions. Felix and Ferdinand became fast friends and frequent partners in chamber music. In 1835, Mendelssohn settled in Leipzig to become conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and he promptly appointed David concertmaster. When Mendelssohn founded the Leipzig Conservatory, David was one of the first musicians appointed to the faculty. If Mendelssohn was Leipzig’s premiere musical citizen, David was without doubt its “second in command,” busy not only with the orchestra and conservatory but also as a soloist, chamber musician, conductor, music editor, and (minor) composer. They remained close until Mendelssohn’s passing in 1847, when David was among the small group attending the composer’s deathbed and then served as a pallbearer.

“I’d like to do a violin concerto for you for next winter,” Mendelssohn wrote to David in July 1838. “One in E minor is running through my head, and the opening of it will not leave me in peace.” Curiously, ensuing sketches reveal that it was a piano concerto, rather than a violin concerto, that started taking form, one that matched the eventual violin concerto in both key and structure. By the time Mendelssohn focused definitively on the composition in 1844 it had evolved with certainty into a violin concerto. He consulted closely with his soloist while composing it, mostly about technical issues but in some cases about more general concerns of structure and balance, and he took David’s suggestions to heart. David played the premiere, in 1845, and programmed it often thereafter.

Mendelssohn liked to dovetail the separate movements of his largescale pieces, a device he had used to great effect in the two piano concertos of his maturity. He maintained that preference in this last of his orchestral works, such that the three movements connect into a single overarching span. Subtle mirroring of tonal architecture and fleeting reminiscences of earlier themes at key moments of transition help invest a sense of the organic and inevitable in this most Classical of the great Romantic violin concertos. In 1921, the commentator Donald Francis Tovey cited these connecting passages as the most remarkable flashes of genius in the entire piece, but he complained that he had never actually heard them in concert as they were always drowned out by applause.


(18 minutes)

Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90 (1882-83)

(33 minutes)


Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
     Allegro con brio
     Poco allegretto
     Allegro—Un poco sostenuto


Johannes Brahms did much of his best work during his summer vacations, usually at some bucolic getaway in the Austrian, German, or Swiss countryside. He spent the summer of 1883, during which he completed his Third Symphony, in Wiesbaden, a spa resort along the Rhine. It is perhaps not coincidental that the piece’s opening recalls the corresponding spot of the Rhenish Symphony, which his mentor Robert Schumann had composed in 1850 shortly after moving to Düsseldorf, another city on the Rhine.

The shortest of Brahms’ four symphonies, the Third is sometimes introspective (especially in its meltingly beautiful third movement), sometimes valiant. “Its foundation is self-confident, rough and ready strength,” said the music critic Eduard Hanslick, and the conductor Hans Richter, who led its premiere, referred to it as Brahms’ Eroica. This comparison to one of Beethoven’s mightiest scores must have moved Brahms deeply, since he had spent many years being intimidated about writing symphonies, worrying that his could not stand as worthy successors to Beethoven’s. “The ‘heroic’ element in it has nothing to do with anything military,” Hanslick insisted, “nor does it lead to any tragic dénouement, such as the Funeral March of Beethoven’s Eroica. Its musical characteristics recall the healthy soundness of Beethoven’s second period, never the eccentricities of his last. And here and there are suggestions of the Romantic twilight of Schumann and Mendelssohn.”

The musical politics of Vienna practically guaranteed that Brahms’ new works would be greeted with loud opinions pro and contra. True to form, listeners who preferred the avant-gardism of Liszt and Wagner made their displeasure known, but Brahms was pleasantly surprised by the warmth with which this piece was greeted overall. In fact, he grew to resent the symphony’s cascading popularity, feeling that it was overshadowing others of his works that he felt deserved similar enthusiasm. His friend and confidante Clara Schumann (Robert’s widow) was among its devotees. “From start to finish one is wrapped about with the mysterious charm of the woods and forests,” she wrote to him. “I could not tell you which movement I loved most. In the first I was charmed straight away by the gleams of dawning day, as if the rays of the sun were shining through the trees. …The second is a pure idyll. … The third movement is a pearl, but it is a gray one dipped in a tear of woe, and at the end the modulation is quite wonderful. How gloriously the last movement follows with its passionate upward surge! But one’s beating heart is soon calmed down again for the final transfiguration which begins with such beauty in the development motif that words fail me!”

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra delivers uplifting, entertaining, and enriching musical experiences  worldwide. This summer, the Orchestra returns to Bravo! Vail for its 22nd summer residency with a rich lineup that includes classical favorites and exciting pops programs

All artists, programs, and pricing are subject to change.

Presented At

Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater