MTT Conducts Benedetti Playing Bruch

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2016-17 SeasonViolinist Nicola Benedetti, whose playing emanates “radiant lofty lyricism, touching intimate bluesiness, and furious rhythmic energy,” (The Telegraph) performs Bruch’s First Violin Concerto, a beloved masterpiece of Romantic lyricism, with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Then, hear Bartók’s virtuosic masterpiece, his Concerto for Orchestra.


San Francisco Symphony

Clyde Scott

Video Design

Luke Kritzeck

Lighting Design



The Seasons [with video]


Violin Concerto No. 1


Concerto for Orchestra

All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.


Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra
John Cage's The Seasons
Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1

At a Glance

The Seasons
 1947  |  15 mins
By 1947 a burgeoning partnership with dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham had begun to push John Cage along his path to becoming the premier American Maverick composer. The Seasons is his coming to terms with Indian thought. According to Cage, it is “an attempt to express the traditional Indian view of the seasons as quiescence (winter), creation (spring), preservation (summer), and destruction (fall). It concludes with the Prelude to Winter with which it begins.” The score presents a world close to nature: Sounds are shimmering, gurgling, twittering, occasionally threatening, but mostly gentle. Movement is slow and relaxed, the passage of time barely perceptible.

Violin Concerto No. 1
 1866/68  |  36 mins
Renowned violinist Joseph Joachim, who collaborated with Bruch in revising this concerto to the version we hear at these concerts, once said: “The Germans have four violin concertos…. The richest, the most seductive, was written by Max Bruch.” In the opening movement, orchestral chords and solo flourishes alternate. Bruch finds room for two expansive and memorable melodies, then brings back the opening chords and flourishes, using them this time to prepare the soft sinking into the Adagio. In the Adagio resides the soul of this perennially fresh and touching concerto, lyric rapture being heightened by Bruch’s artfully cultivated way with form, proportion, and sequence. As for the crackling, Gypsy-tinged finale, some might assume that Bruch had borrowed a notion or two from his slightly older friend Johannes Brahms. It turns out that Bruch got there first.

Concerto for Orchestra  1943 | 36 mins
Having moved to New York in 1940 to escape the rising tide of National Socialism in Central Europe, fifty-nine-year-old Béla Bartók felt depressed and isolated in his new surroundings. He lacked energy and was plagued by the first symptoms of the leukemia that would kill him. Providence smiled on Bartók when the conductor Serge Koussevitzky offered the composer a commission for a new symphonic work. Bartók accepted and during the summer and early fall of 1943 wrote the entire Concerto for Orchestra at a rural mountain getaway in the north of New York State. The composer provided a comment to help the listener: “The general mood of the work represents, apart from the jesting second movement, a gradual transition from the sternness of the first moment and the lugubrious death-song of the third to the life-assertion of the last one.”

Compiled by SFS Director of Publications Jeanette Yu and SFS Managing Editor Steven Ziegler.





Buy Tickets

  1. Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 8:00pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

  2. Sun, Mar 26, 2017 at 2:00pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

If you would like assistance purchasing tickets for patrons with disabilities, please call the box office at 415-864-6000.

Pre- and post-show Events

Inside Music, an informative talk by Peter Grunberg, begins one hour prior to concerts. Free to ticketholders. Learn More.