Bernstein & Brahms

August 23 & 24

 

Stingray Brava devotes all of August to Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), as Saturday, August 25 marks the famous American conductor, composer and pianist's centenary! Stingray Brava celebrates the renowned maestro's life and work with new concert footage, in which Bernstein's music takes center stage

Naturally, Stingray Brava could not let Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday go unnoticed: this legendary musician was one of the most multi-faceted figures of 20th-century classical music. Consequently, Stingray Brava devotes many August evenings to programs which feature Bernstein in his manifold roles as conductor, piano soloist, and composer! 

Bernstein was born in Massachusetts to Russian-Jewish immigrants. He studied at Harvard University, where he befriended the influential composer Aaron Copland. Bernstein was never a formal student of Copland's, but the latter's influence is easily discernible in Bernstein's composition technique. On August 25, Stingray Brava presents Bernstein's interpretation of Copland's Symphony No. 3. This performance is part of Stingray Brava’s American Weekend, in which Bernstein is the featured piano soloist in George Gershwin's unforgettable Rhapsody in Blue.

Moreover, Stingray Brava offers abundant evidence that Bernstein's immortal music has remained popular even after the maestro's passing: on Sunday, August 26, the Berlin concert gala What a Wonderful Town – a reference to Bernstein's musical Wonderful Town – follows the 1995 American Night from Berlin's Waldbühne. Both concerts are brimming with spirited renditions of Bernstein's most vibrant compositions!

Bernstein's career took off in earnest after World War II. In the 1940s, the young musician studied conducting with the legendary conductor Serge Koussevitzky at the Tanglewood Institute, where he learned the tricks of the trade. Before long, Bernstein made his debut at Carnegie Hall when he stepped in for an ailing Bruno Walter at the last minute in 1943.

This put Bernstein's career on the fast track: in 1945, he was appointed music director of the New York City Symphony, which had been founded only a year before by the leading conductor Leopold Stokowski. In 1946, Bernstein made his opera debut at the Tanglewood Institute with the American premiere of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes. But Bernstein also made a name for himself as a composer: he wrote several symphonic pieces. Apart from his three symphonies and his Serenade on August 23 at 14:00 CEST on Stingray Brava), he composed light music, including successful Broadway musicals. His 1957 West Side Story – a New York version of Romeo and Juliet – was an instant hit the world over, and is still frequently revived.

On August 23 and 24, Stingray Brava broadcasts Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 and No. 4, which marked the return of Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic to the Tanglewood Institute in 1973. These concerts illustrate that Bernstein and Brahms were a perfect match: Bernstein's rendition of the Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, Op. 56, and a number of Brahms Lieder in which Bernstein accompanies soprano Christa Ludwig on the piano bring out the best in Brahms's compositions.


Thursday, August 23 at 21:00 | Brahms – Symphony No. 2 in D Major

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performs Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms under the direction of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). This concert was recorded in 1972 as part of the Tanglewood Festival, Massachusetts. This cultural centre and music institute has hosted the orchestra since 1937. Brahms composed his Symphony No. 2 in the summer of 1877, during a stay in the peaceful Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Austria. Because of its peaceful and cheerful atmosphere, this work is often compared to Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony.


Thursday, August 23 at 21:45 | Brahms - Six Songs

Christa Ludwig has been hailed as the best Mozart and Strauss mezzo-soprano of her generation. In addition, she has always shown a great predilection for the lied, and is known for her soulful interpretations of lieder by Brahms, Mahler and Schubert. In May 1972, Christa Ludwig, accompanied at the piano by Leonard Bernstein, recorded songs by Johannes Brahms at the Tel Aviv Museum: Liebestreu Op. 3/1 - Mädchenlied Op. 107/5 - Sapphische Ode Op. 94/4 - Ruhe, Süssliebchen Op. 33/9 - Die Mainacht Op. 43/2 - Von ewiger Liebe Op. 43/1.


Thursday, August 23 at 22:05 | Brahms - Gipsy Songs

Christa Ludwig has been hailed as the best Mozart and Strauss mezzo-soprano of her generation. In addition, she has always shown a great predilection for the lied, and is known for her soulful interpretations of lieder by Brahms, Mahler and Schubert. In May 1972, Christa Ludwig, accompanied at the piano by Leonard Bernstein, recorded 8 Gipsy Songs from Op. 103 by Johannes Brahms at the Tel Aviv Museum: He, Zigeuner, greife - Hochgetürmte Rimaflut - Wisst ihr, wann mein Kindchen - Lieber Gott, du weisst - Brauner Bursche führt zum Tanze - Kommt dir manchmal in den Sinn - Röslein dreie in der Reihe - Rote Abendwolken ziehn.


Friday, August 24 at 21:00 | Brahms – Symphony No. 4 in E minor

The Vienna Philharmonic performs Symphony No. 4 in E minor, op. 98 by Johannes Brahms under the direction of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). This concert was recorded in 1972 as part of the Tanglewood Festival, Massachusetts. This cultural centre and music institute has hosted the orchestra since 1937. Brahms composed this piece in 1884, a year after the completion of his third symphony. The last part of the piece features a passacaglia - a form often used during the Baroque period - particularly striking, so that Symphony No. 4 is often seen as the centrepiece of Brahms, alongside in its Ein deutsches Requiem.


Friday, August 24 at 21:45 | Brahms - Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56

The Vienna Philharmonic performs Variations on a Haydn Theme, op. 56 by Johannes Brahms under the direction of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). This 1973 concert was filmed in the great hall of Vienna's legendary Musikverein. This work is based on a theme in B flat major from Haydn's Choral Saint-Antoine, and has eight variations and one finale. Haydn's Variations on a Theme have been published in two versions: one for two pianos (Op 56a) and the other for orchestra (Op 56b). Often interpreted, this second version is by far the best known.


Friday, August 24 at 22:05 | Brahms - Two Songs with Viola

Christa Ludwig has been hailed as the best Mozart and Strauss mezzo-soprano of her generation. In addition, she has always shown a great predilection for the lied, and is known for her soulful interpretations of lieder by Brahms, Mahler and Schubert. Together with Leonard Bernstein (piano) and Daniel Benjamin (viola), she recorded the 2 songs Op. 91 by Johannes Brahms at the Tel Aviv Museum in May 1972: Gestillte Sehnsucht Op. 91/1 - Geistliches Wiegenlied Op. 91/2.


Friday, August 24 at 22:20  Brahms - Four Songs

Christa Ludwig has been hailed as the best Mozart and Strauss mezzo-soprano of her generation. In addition, she has always shown a great predilection for the lied, and is known for her soulful interpretations of lieder by Brahms, Mahler and Schubert. In May 1972, Christa Ludwig, accompanied at the piano by Leonard Bernstein, recorded songs by Johannes Brahms at the Tel Aviv Museum: Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht op. 96/1 - Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer op. 105/2 - Feldeinsamkeit op. 86/2 - Ständchen op. 106/1.