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From the earliest days of 1911, Richard Strauss had a runaway hit with his opera Der Rosenkavalier. Filled with luxurious music and sentimental charm, its stunning orchestral textures quickly made the leap into the instrumental world where they’ve dazzled audiences ever since. Indulge your ears in this and Lalo’s zesty violin showpiece Symphonie espagnole with the young firebrand Ray Chen.
Suite from Silent Night (SFS Co-Commission & World Premiere)
Suite from Der Rosenkavalier
All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.
R. Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier
At A Glance
Masquerade 2013 | 5 mins
Anna Clyne offers these comments: “Masquerade draws inspiration from the original mid-eighteenth century promenade concerts held in London’s pleasure gardens. As is true today, these concerts were a place where people from all walks of life mingled to enjoy a wide array of music. . . . Combined with costumes, masked guises and elaborate settings, masquerades created an exciting, yet controlled, sense of occasion and celebration.” MORE
Symphonie espagnole for Violin and Orchestra 1874 | 30 mins
Lalo’s reputation chiefly rests on this spectacular piece. It even made an impression on famed Russian composer Tchaikovsky, who said, “It has a lot of freshness, lightness of piquant rhythms, of beautiful and excellently harmonized melodies. . . . . [Lalo] thinks more about musical beauty than about observing established traditions.” LISTEN FOR: Recognize parts of Lalo’s Andante movement? Tchaikovsky wasn’t kidding when he sang its praises: He used Lalo’s Andante as the inspiration for the Andante movement of his own violin concerto. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? MORE
Silent Night Elegy 2018 | 20 mins
Kevin Puts’s opera Silent Night recounts an extraordinary event in World War I, when spontaneous cease-fires and celebrations took place along the Western Front on Christmas Eve. Kevin Puts offers these comments: “Since my opera premiered in 2011, I have gotten some interest in making a separate piece out of the orchestral music in the opera. . . I felt that a single-movement ‘essay’—rather than a suite of separate movements—would work better for my purposes. Silent Night Elegy more or less follows the narrative of the opera itself.” MORE
Suite from Der Rosenkavalier 1910/1944 | 21 mins
The opera Der Rosenkavalier is a delicate treatment of a sensitive subject—how youth and age do, or do not, mix in the arena of love. Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s libretto is itself the stuff of greatness but the addition of Strauss’s score turned Der Rosenkavalier into one of opera’s most enduring masterpieces. LISTEN FOR: The Viennese setting is suggested in part by the use of seductive waltzes—an anachronism, since the action is set about a century before the “Waltz Era,” but, with music like this, who could seriously complain? The 1911 premiere of Der Rosenkavalier was one of the great events of operatic history. In the century since, it has not diminished in the affection of opera lovers. MORE
JEANETTE YU is Editorial Director and STEVEN ZIEGLER is Managing Editor at the San Francisco Symphony.