Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain with the SF Symphony

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2016-17 SeasonConductor James Gaffigan leads an exhilarating concert featuring the "absolutely stunning" (Chicago Tribune) Simone Lamsma performing Prokofiev's passionate Violin Concerto No. 2. Opening the program, the San Francisco Symphony performs Mussorgsky’s musical thunderbolt, A Night on Bald Mountain, the evocative tone poem inspired by stories from Russian folklore. Then, hear R. Strauss’ arresting “Dance of the Seven Veils.”


James Gaffigan


Simone Lamsma


San Francisco Symphony



A Night on Bald Mountain


Symphony No. 36, Linz


Violin Concerto No. 2

R. Strauss

"Dance of the Seven Veils" from Salome


Mozart's Symphony No. 36

At a Glance

This concert is equal parts wild, inspired, exuberant, and provocative thanks to an intoxicating mix of musical stories.

MUSSORGSKY   A Night on Bald Mountain  1867 | 12 mins
Mussorsky described A Night on Bald Mountain as an “(1) assembly of witches, their chatter and gossip, (2) procession of Satan, (3) vile glorification of Satan, and (4) sabbath.” This performance of the composer’s original score may surprise listeners who know Rimsky-Korsakov’s version. First this one is longer. But the most striking difference comes in the wild and savage ending and in the orchestration. Listen especially for Mussorgsky’s forthright and spare textures—they are extraordinary.

PROKOFIEV   Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor  1935 | 20 mins
His Second Violin Concerto is classical, modern, motoric, and lyrical. The violinist begins alone; when the orchestra enters, it is austere—there is a great sense of intimacy here. The second movement is set gently in motion with simple rhythms and when the violin enters it plays one of Prokofiev's most inspired melodies. Then comes a finale that indulges appetite for dissonance and fierce accent. This is dance music!

MOZART   Symphony No. 36 in C major, K.425, Linz  1783 | 26 mins
Written in just four days, this is a grandly inventive work. For the first time, Mozart begins a symphony with a slow introduction, declamatory at the outset, then yielding and full of pathos, and cannily creating suspense. The Allegro is energetic and festive, with a touch of march about it. The second movement is in a major key, but yearns always for minor harmonies. The Minuet is courtly, and the trio, with its delicious scoring for oboe, violins, and bassoon in particular, is demurely rustic. The finale brings back the first movement’s exuberance in heightened form.

R.STRAUSS   Dance of the Seven Veils, from Salome  1905 | 9 mins
In this well-known story, Salome falls in love with the prophet John the Baptist, who is held captive in the palace of Herod, her stepfather; in vain she tries to seduce him. When Herod, who lusts for her, promises anything if she will dance for him, she accepts. She dances, dropping each of her seven veils in turn. This has a calculated effect on Herod, and when she is finished dancing she demands the prophet's head. It is brought to her, she seizes it, and she kisses the lips passionately. Since its premiere, this Dance of the Seven Veils has been one of Strauss’s most popular works.

Jeanette Yu is Director of Publications at the San Francisco Symphony.


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  1. Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 8:00pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

  2. Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 7:30pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

  3. Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 8:00pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

  4. Sun, Jan 22, 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.

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