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Utah Symphony Celebrates Beethoven’s 250th Birthday with Maestro Fischer Leading Four Masterworks Programs Showcasing the Composer’s Symphonies

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (February 19, 2020) – The Utah Symphony joins in the year-long celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with four Masterworks programs led by Music Director Thierry Fischer featuring Beethoven’s most iconic symphonies, and a gala performance of the composer’s Violin Concerto by piano superstar Joshua Bell commemorating the orchestra’s 80th anniversary.

Utah Symphony performs Symphony No. 7 on February 21 and 22; Symphony No. 6(“Pastoral”) on April 24 and 25; Symphony No. 5 and Romance No. 1 with violinist Augustin Hadelich on May 1 and 2; and Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”) on May 22 and 23.

Additional works by the composer were featured throughout the season, including “The Consecration of the House” Overture on September 13 and 14, 2019 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the opening of Abravanel Hall; “Leonore” Overture No. 3 on January 3 and 4, 2020; and the Violin Concerto with soloist Joshua Bell on May 16 at the orchestra’s spring gala.

The orchestra will continue to highlight Beethoven during the 2020-21 season with a cycle of the composer’s complete piano concertos.

In addition to MacArthur Fellow Stephen Hough’s performances of Piano Concertos No. 5 on September 18 and 19 and Piano Concerto No. 4 on September 25 and 26—both works conducted by Thierry Fischer—Piano Concerto No. 3 is performed by multiple Gramophone Award winner Benjamin Grosvenor on October 23 and 24 in his Utah Symphony debut with conductor Jun Märkl at the podium; Piano Concerto No. 1 is performed by 2006 Gilmore Artist Ingrid Fliter on December 4 and 5, Rune Bergmann conducting; and Piano Concerto No. 2 is performed on December 11 and 12 by Louis Schwizgebel, whose accolades have included first prize at Young Concert Artists International Auditions and recognition as a BBC New Generation Artist. David Afkham conducts.

Additional works by the composer to be featured during the 2020-21 season include Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”), led by Shiyeon Sung with the Utah Symphony Chorus and University of Utah Choirs on November 13 and 14; the “Fidelio” Overture on December 4 and 5; and the “Coriolan” Overture on December 11 and 12.


Maestro Fischer and Utah Symphony take the audience on a journey through Utah’s towering red rocks, and Schumann’s testament of love for his wife, concluding with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 on February 21 & 22 with the first of four Masterworks programs celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

Opening the evening is Messiaen’s powerful  This continues the season’s experience that pairs Utah’s visual beauty with Messiaen’s awe inspiring music. This suite’s movement describes his experiences of Bryce as divine creation with the cathedral-like grandeur of the park’s rock formations on full display.

R. Schumann’s only Piano Concerto follows with its mercurial composition. Originally beginning as a single movement work, his “Fantasie,” was composed in 1841 before adding two movements in 1845 creating a complete concerto before being premiered on New Year’s Day in 1846 with his wife, the great pianist Clara Wieck at its helm.

This will be Francesco Piemontesi’s debut with Utah Symphony. A pianist with exceptional refinement of expression, he is widely renowned for his interpretation of Mozart and the early Romantic repertoire. Mr. Piemontesi has performed around the globe with major ensembles like the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestrea, NHK Symphony, Orchestre National de France, and countless others.

Next is Messiaen’s “Cedar Breaks and the Gift of Awe” from Des canyons aux étoiles. Immaculately connected to the state of Utah, he took inspiration from the landscape and the birds to the monstrous rock formations at Bryce Canyon National Park. Maestro Fischer commented: “Since coming to Utah more than 10 years ago, I have often been awestruck by the beauties and majesties of its natural landscapes. This coming season it gives me great pleasure to honor Utah’s nature with a masterpiece written in Utah and about Utah by Olivier Messiaen.”

Closing the evening is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Full of exuberance, exciting climaxes, and its powerful rhythmic drive, audiences will appreciate as the virtuoso Utah Symphony performs the highly spontaneous and emotionally powerful Symphony No. 7, a work Beethoven himself considered one of his best.


Maestro Fischer and the Utah Symphony continue its celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with his most naturally picturesque symphony, the highly evocative Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral,” which was said to inspire the boldest and strangest parts of Disney’s “Fantasia.” This nature-focused program also features two guest keyboard performing works by Messiaen and Handel that reference birds.

Grammy-award winning organ soloist Paul Jacobs returns to Abravanel Hall after the successful release of his recent CD collaboration with the Utah Symphony. Heralded as “one of the major musicians of our time” by Alex Ross of “The New Yorker” and as “America’s leading organ performer” by “The Economist,” Mr. Jacobs will perform Handel’s Organ Concerto No. 13 “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale” and Barber’s Toccata Festiva for Organ and Orchestra.

The Utah Symphony resume the season-long study of birds and their natural world with Messiaen’s “The Mockingbird” from Messiaen’s “Des canyons aux étoiles,” which will be performed as part of the Pastoral experience with Principal Keyboard Jason Hardink.

Beethoven’s “Pastoral” symphony was one of only two that he intentionally named, and is also known as “Recollections of Country Life.” Beethoven publicly declared the piece’s “extramusical” purpose: an expression of nature. His affinity for nature and his love for walks through the country outside Vienna were captured in the Sixth, as well as in the notes scribbled on sketches of the symphony.


Unrivaled violinist Augustin Hadelich returns to perform Dutilleux’ “The Tree of Dreams” and Beethoven’s Romance No. 1 as the composer’s 250th birthday celebration continues with the orchestra’s performance of Symphony No. 5 led by Maestro Fischer.

Grammy-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich has been called “an intimate performer whose self-effacing quality allows the music to soar” (Los Angeles Times) and “more than impeccable” by Maestro Fischer. This will be his fifth appearance with the Utah Symphony, having dazzled the Abravanel Hall crowds with his performances of concertos by Bartók in 2011, Dvorák in 2013, Mozart in 2016 and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in 2017.

In addition to the musical skills that have earned first prize at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Grammy Award, among other honors, Hadelich has a compelling personal story: A house fire in 1999 left him with severe burns to his upper body and right arm when he was 15, interrupting a promising career. It required a year-long hiatus and recuperation in a German treatment facility before he could resume playing violin again.

“It made me realize how important music was to me,” Hadelich, now 35, told “The Washington Post” in a 2013 interview. “I knew I had to keep playing.”

Fly with the birds one last time with two more movements from Messiaen’s tribute to the wonders of nature, “Des canyons aux étoiles”. The program concludes with the majesty and emotional poignancy of Beethoven’s most recognizable symphony, the monumental No. 5, with its four iconic beginning notes.


Spend one last evening this season with Maestro Fischer leading the Utah Symphony celebrating Beethoven during his 250th birthday year for his powerful and ground-breaking “Eroica” symphony.

The orchestra concludes its season-long homage to the red rocks of southern Utah with Messiaen’s moving and celebratory “Zion Park and the Celestial City” and “The Resurrected and the Song of the Star Aldebaran” from “Des canyons aux étoiles.” In this concert series, the twelve movements of Messiaen’s composition were performed over eight programs, on which they are complemented by additional, nature-inspired works from the baroque to the present day.

The talent and range of the Utah Symphony are on full display in the final work on the 2019-20 season, in the colorful intensity of Ravel’s ballet score, Daphnis et Chloé. Described by Stravinsky as “one of the most beautiful products in all of French music,” Daphnis et Chloé is among Ravel’s finest achievements. The work’s opulent orchestration, yearning melodies and sumptuous harmonic coloring combine with great rhythmic drive to create one of the composer’s most masterful statements.

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