Piano Concerto in A minor 1845 | 31 mins
What makes for a great piano concerto? In 1839 Schumann wrote: “[W]e must await the genius who will show us in a newer and more brilliant way how orchestra and piano may be combined, how the soloist, dominant at the keyboard, may unfold the wealth of his instrument and his art, while the orchestra, no longer a mere spectator, may interweave its manifold facets into the scene.” That much-awaited genius would end up being Schumann himself. In 1841, he composed a one-movement Concert Phantasie for Piano and Orchestra. It didn’t make a huge splash, yet was also too good to abandon. Four years later Schumann went back and revised it into the first movement of his Piano Concerto in A minor. Now one of his most popular pieces, listeners will be struck by how much the piano and the orchestra interact.
Aus Italien 1886 | 47 mins
The impetus for the composition of Aus Italien came from a three-month trip Strauss took to Italy during the summer of 1886. In the course of his visit, Strauss made the rounds of Verona, Bologna, Rome, Naples, and Florence, drinking in the country’s cultural highlights—museums, music, architectural treasures, archeological ruins—and generally falling under the spell of that nation. It comes as no surprise that he felt to memorialize his experiences through composition. Aus Italien was the ardent result.
Jeanette Yu is Director of Publications at the San Francisco Symphony.