Horn Concerto No. 2 in E flat major
A Hero's Life
A Berliner Festspiele/Musikfest Berlin event
At the time of their foundation at the end of the 19th century, when they were still called “Kaimorchester”, the Münchner Philharmoniker not only made a name for themselves with their performances of Bruckner’s and Mahler’s works, but they also showcased Richard Strauss as conductor and included performances of his works. Six years following the foundation of the orchestra (1899), Richard Strauss had already had three guest engagements as conductor, primarily performing his own works such as tone poems Don Juan (1888), Don Quixote, Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) (1898) and Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration). He found the young orchestra of the time to have an “admirable youthful freshness”. And: “If all goes smoothly enough, the Kaimorchester’s flame of fame will shine all the brighter.” This was the argument Strauss put forth in order to secure additional rehearsals necessitated by the enormous technical demands of the production.
Richard Strauss’ tone poems, such as Don Juan and Ein Heldenleben, provide cause for a new interpretation time and again not only at the technical level but also from an interpretative point of view. Their popularity with conductors as well as audiences lives off the tension between the concrete programme connoted by both title and subtitle and their translation into a purely musical form. Nonetheless, that the extra-musical topics aim to be “nothing more than the form-creating cause for expression and for the purely musical development of my sentiments and not the description of concrete life processes”, as Richard Strauss wrote, has to date yet to be able to prevent speculations on references to his personal life.
With their Strauss programme, which includes the Second Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, the Münchner Philharmoniker under Semyon Bychkov will once again demonstrate the virtuosity with which Strauss composed for orchestra as an instrument, and show how every individual voice can unfold in full orchestral force.