ACADEMY OF ST MARTIN IN THE FIELDS
Joshua Bell, violin
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BIZET Symphony No. 1
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
In a magical marriage of collegial warmth and jaw-dropping virtuosity, Tchaikovsky’s hugely popular Violin Concerto opens the Bravo! Vail season alongside the exuberant high spirits of Bizet’s first symphony.
BEETHOVEN: Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
Egmont Overture, Op. 84 (1809-10)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Beethoven completed one opera and two ballets, but the dramatic genre that most frequently engaged him was incidental music for stage plays. He idolized the polymathic poet Johann Wilhelm von Goethe, and when the Vienna Hoftheater commissioned him to write music for a revival of Goethe’s 1786 tragedy Egmont, scheduled to open in June 1810, he leapt at the opportunity. He wrote to Goethe, adopting a tone of uncharacteristic humility: “You will soon receive my music for Egmont—this wonderful Egmont which I read and felt and set to music thinking warmly of you. I am eager to know what you think of it. Even censure will be beneficial to me and my art and will be just as welcome as unmitigated praise.” Goethe responded with unmitigated praise, expressing particular delight at a passage the composer crafted to accompany the hero’s slumber, the ninth of the ten numbers in Beethoven’s score.
The play’s subject appealed greatly to Beethoven’s ideals of political liberation, derived as it was from a historical incident of the 16th century in which the Flemish nobleman Count Egmont (let us not forget that Beethoven was of Flemish ancestry) defies occupying Spanish forces and seals his own doomed fate to afford his people a vision of freedom.
Beethoven’s overture, by far the most frequently performed piece of his Egmont music, seems crafted to set the scene very specifically. According to traditional lore about the work, a slow introduction depicts the Flemish populace suffering under the yoke of the Spanish oppressors. This eventually yields to a rapid section suggesting the optimistic spirit of revolt harbored by the Flemish and, at the end, a celebratory climax that symbolizes triumph over oppression and that, in the production of the play, would return at the end under the title “Symphony of Victory.”
BIZET: Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 1 in C major (1855)
GEORGES BIZET (1838-75)
Bizet spent nine years as a star pupil at the Paris Conservatoire, where he earned four premiers prix (“top honors”), in solfège, piano, organ, and fugue. During his student years he also befriended the composer Charles Gounod, who urged him toward a career in opera.
One of the few non-operatic works by Bizet to hold a place in the repertoire is his Symphony No. 1. He wrote it in the autumn of 1855, beginning it four days after his 17th birthday. It almost certainly was not performed when it was new, and Bizet never published it, although he did incorporate a snippet into his opera Don Procopio (1858-59). The manuscript was in his estate when he died. His son gave it to the composer Reynaldo Hahn, who deposited it in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 1933.
The piece came to the attention of the eminent conductor Felix Weingartner, who personally underwrote its publication and led its world premiere, in 1935. Quickly embraced by many leading conductors, it gained further fame when George Balanchine used it for his ballet Le palais de cristal, unveiled in July 1947 at the Paris Opéra and nine months later in New York, when Ballet Society presented the same work under the rubric Symphony in C.
Although this symphony may by turns remind us of Schubert, Beethoven, Rossini, and Mendelssohn, it is actually modeled on Gounod’s Symphony No. 1 (1855), for which Bizet created a two-piano reduction for publication that same year. It is ironic that Gounod’s splendid D-major Symphony should have largely receded in to the shadows, its place taken by what is effectively an imitation of it. And yet Bizet’s symphony is a wonder in its own right, displaying a freshness and vitality that make it much more than a mere composition exercise.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 (1878)
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-93)
By 1877, Tchaikovsky stood at the forefront of his generation of Russian composers. That year he consolidated an arrangement with Nadezhda von Meck, whose financial patronage freed him to compose full-time; and then, in an apparent act of homosexual panic, he got married. A fortnight after the wedding, he had a nervous breakdown, remained unconscious for two weeks, and woke up to a life that would not henceforth include his wife. As part of his recovery, he traveled to Switzerland with the violinist Yosif Kotek, his former pupil and sometime bedmate, at the outset of 1878.
They played through a lot of music together, including Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole, a violin concerto in all but name that inspired Tchaikovsky to write his own violin concerto. When he sent the score to von Meck, she wrote back that she didn’t like it. The composer, who was often given to self-doubt, defended his piece, although he did decide to replace his original slow movement. Further objections came from the violinist Leopold Auer, who Tchaikovsky hoped would introduce the concerto. When he declared it unplayable, the honor of the premiere went instead to Adolf Brodsky, who worked on the concerto for more than two years before he dared to perform it. Auer eventually changed his mind, performing it himself and teaching it to such pupils as Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, and Nathan Milstein.
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is a lyrical work that rarely ventures into the stormy outbursts that can characterize his symphonic pieces. The first movement, by turns graceful and urgent, makes difficult technical demands, but the fireworks generally sparkle as counterpoint to the overall gentility. The slow movement is elegiac but not depressive (Tchaikovsky could fall into that trap), and the Finale emerges without a break, serving up a dazzling array of pyrotechnics.
With a career spanning more than 30 years, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Academy of St Martin in the Fields Music Director Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era.
With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. An exclusive Sony Classical artist, he has recorded more than 40 CDs garnering Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone and Echo Klassik awards, and is a recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, as well as the Lumiere Prize for his work in the sphere of Virtual Reality. Named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 2011, he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958, and recently renewed his contract through 2020. In 2016, Sony released Bell’s album For the Love of Brahms with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk, followed in 2017 by the Joshua Bell Classical Collection, a 14 CD set of Bell’s Sony recording highlights from the past 20 years.
Summer 2017 saw Joshua Bell perform at the BBC Proms with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Verbier Festival, as Artist In Residence at the Edinburgh International Festival and – in the US - at Tanglewood, Ravinia, and the Mostly Mozart Festival. In the 2017/18 season in the US, Bell takes part in the New York Philharmonic’s celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, performing Bernstein’s Serenade led by Alan Gilbert, and also appears with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra among others. His North American recital tours take him to Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center and Washington D.C.’s Strathmore Center. Highlights in Europe include appearances as soloist with the Vienna Symphony and Danish National Symphony; as director and soloist with the Orchestre National de Lyon; and recitals in Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Bologna, Milan and London. With the Academy of St Martin in the Fields he will tour widely including in the United Kingdom, United States and Europe, featuring performances in London, New York, San Francisco, Reykjavik and at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
Convinced of the value of music as a diplomatic and educational tool, Bell participated in President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ first cultural mission to Cuba. He is also involved in Turnaround Arts, another project implemented by the Committee and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which provides arts education to low-performing elementary and middle schools.
Joshua Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by François Tourte.
Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
Strings take center stage in this sumptuous program, opening with Principal Cello Carter Brey, celebrated for his “elegant phrasing and deft technique,” (New York Times), playing Haydn’s beautifully poised concerto. Souvenir juxtaposes delightful images of the sun-warmed Italian landscape, colored by the burnished sound of a string orchestra, with glorious Russian intensity.
Dvořák draws on the striking vitality of Slavic folklore and lyricism for this spirited concerto, perfectly paired with the sublime struggle and transcendence of Beethoven’s "Eroica" Symphony, heralding the Romantic era.
Where are the orchestra concert performances held?
Bravo! Vail orchestral concerts take place at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (GRFA) located at 530 S. Frontage Rd E Vail, CO 81657
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 6:00PM (except for the movie screening which starts at 7:30PM). The GRFA lobby opens 90 minutes prior and gates open 60 minutes prior to performances. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get into the venue. Latecomers will be escorted by ushers at an appropriate interval.
Where do I park?
FREE concert parking is available at the Vail Parking Structure (241 South Frontage Road East, Vail) and the Lionshead Parking Structure (395 South Frontage Road West, Vail). A Town of Vail Special Event express bus provides continuous service from both parking structures to the GRFA before and after concerts. Limited $10 parking is available at Ford Park by the Tennis Center (500 South Frontage Rd). Additional $10 parking is available at the Vail Athletic/Soccer Field lot.
WALKING DIRECTIONS FROM THE VAIL VILLAGE PARKING STRUCTURE:
Via Gore Creek Trail: 15-minute scenic walk
1. Exit the parking garage by following the Pedestrian Exit signs towards “Vail Village” / “Golden Peak”
2. Turn left out of the parking garage onto East Meadow Drive and head east
3. At the end of the road turn right on Vail Valley Drive and cross the road
4. Turn left on the walking path before the bridge, following the street signs towards "Ford Park"
5. Continuing east, follow the walking path along Gore Creek until reaching the GRFA
Via Frontage Road: 15-minute walk
1. From the top level of the parking garage, exit onto the South Frontage Road
2. Turn right and follow the sidewalk east along the south side of the frontage road
3. Cross East Meadow Drive and continue east along the sidewalk
4. Turn right after passing The Wren at Vail on the right
5. Continue down the path down to the GRFA
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 2 hours including intermission. Please call the box office 877.812.5700 for exact running times.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, passes, and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online: bravovail.org
2. By phone: 877.812.5700
3. In person: Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Bravo! Vail accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email, or may be picked up at Will Call.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 4PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700.
The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater box office is open from 11AM until concert start time (5PM on days with no concerts) during the Festival. Tickets for upcoming performances may be purchased on-site at the GRFA before concerts and during intermission.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up at the Box Office located to the right of the main GRFA entrance lobby. The Box Office is open 11AM to concert start time during the Festival.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available for select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
While our standard policy is that tickets are non-refundable, we understand the necessity to be flexible in these unprecedented times. Should you need to change your plans to attend a concert this summer, we ask that you consider donating the value of your tickets to help support Bravo! Vail's ongoing mission of enriching people’s lives through the power of music. If you prefer a refund rather than donating the value of your tickets, please contact the box office.
If we are forced to cancel an event in its entirety, you will have the option to donate the value of your tickets to help support Bravo's mission, place the value of your tickets on account for future use, or receive a refund.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3PM on the day of the performance or allow extra time to request new tickets at the Will Call window.
Where are seating options for people with disabilities?
Per the American Disability Act (ADA), the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is accessible to individuals with disabilities. ADA seating is available in Section 1 Row L and Section 4 Row O in all reserved seating zones and prices (Premium Aisle, Premium, Reserved, and Saver). A limited number of ADA General Admission Lawn seats are available for sale behind Section 2. You must have a designated ADA lawn seat ticket to sit in this area. By purchasing an ADA seat, you are stating that you require an ADA seat. If purchased fraudulently, you may be subject to relocation. If you need assistance purchasing ADA seating, please call the Box Office at 877.812.5700.
What if it rains?
Concerts take place rain or shine. The GRFA is an open-air venue. Refunds are not given due to weather unless a concert is canceled in its entirety with no performance rescheduled.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts. Please be prepared for rain and cooler temperatures.
What should I bring to the concert?
If you will be on the lawn, a blanket, sunglasses, and a hat are recommended. If rain is predicted, please bring appropriate rain gear. Food, commercially sealed non-alcoholic beverages, low-profile lawn chairs, and umbrellas are permitted at concerts. All backpacks, bags, purses, picnic baskets, and coolers will be checked upon entry.
The following articles are not allowed at the venue: cameras, audio/video recording devices, standard-height lawn chairs, baby strollers, alcoholic beverages, firearms, pets, smoking, skateboards, bicycles, scooters, and skates.
What food and beverages are available for purchase at the GRFA?
Concessions are offered for purchase inside the venue. Menu items include snacks, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. A full bar is also available. All major credit cards and cash are accepted for payment. If you have a pavilion seat, please eat prior to the concert or at intermission.
Are lawn chairs available to rent?
What are some general rules of concert etiquette?
Please allow time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to not disrupt musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. In the pavilion seating, we recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
What else should I know?
Vail’s high elevation requires adequate hydration and sun protection. Visitors from lower elevations may experience altitude sickness.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Check with the GRFA box office for lost items at intermission or call 970.748.8497.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9AM–4PM (and Sat–Sun 10AM-4PM during the Festival).
Stay up to date on all of the latest news and events from Bravo! Vail.