Salonen Conducts the SF Symphony 

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San Francisco Symphony



Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Four Legends from the Kalevala

Jean Sibelius

Also sprach Zarathustra

Richard Strauss


Davies Symphony Hall

Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 11:00PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Sat, Jan 19, 2019 at 11:00PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Sun, Jan 20, 2019 at 5:00PM

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Event Description

Be the first to experience the much-anticipated creative partnership of SFS Music Director Designate Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony. Boundary-defying Salonen takes the podium in a multifaceted program that speaks to his extraordinary “pictorial impulse” (San Francisco Chronicle). Our journey begins with Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir's METACOSMOS, which ushers us in to the exquisite space between beauty and chaos. Salonen and the Orchestra then bring their exceptional mastery of color and texture to two iconic tone poems: R. Strauss' cosmic battle on human evolution Also sprach Zarathustra, and Sibelius' superlatively scored and mystic, Four Legends from the Kalevala.

At a Glance

These are the first performances of the creative partnership of Music Director Designate Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony. 

METACOSMOS  2017  |  14 mins
Our journey begins with Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s one-movement METACOSMOS, which ushers us in to the exquisite space between beauty and chaos. The composer offers these comments: The idea and inspiration behind this piece is the speculative metaphor of falling into a black hole—the unknown—with endless constellations and layers of opposing forces connecting and communicating with each other, expanding and contracting, projecting a struggle for power as the different sources pull on you and you realize that you are being drawn into a force that is beyond your control.  Read More

Also sprach Zarathustra  1896  | 34mins

Back in 1968, when audiences watched Stanley Kubrick’s blockbuster film 2001: A Space Odyssey, they weren’t much concerned with the distant future of a coming century. In fact, the film opened with music that had been composed in the previous century, the Sunrise from Richard Strauss’s tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra. That title translates to Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which is the title of a treatise by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). The piece we hear at these performances is a loose “interpretation” of Nietzsche’s book, which recounts the musings of Zarathustra, the sixth-century (B.C.E.) Persian religious teacher. Nietzsche opens with a prologue in which Zarathustra, who has spent ten years as a recluse in the mountains, watches the sun rise and announces his decision to re-enter society. Strauss said his intention was to “convey in music an idea of the evolution of the human race from its origin.” Knowing the backstory, however, is hardly essential to experiencing the wild thrill of this! Read More

Four Legends from the Kalevala  1896  |  48mins
Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, took hold of Jean Sibelius’s imagination early on, and really never left him. In 1896, Sibelius introduced  Four Legends from the Kalevala. The four-part suite depicts the adventures of a Casanova-like young man named Lemminkäinen, who sets off on larger-than-life exploits involving hunting, seduction, and spectacular fights; at one point Lemminkäinen evades even death itself. With Sibelius musically guiding the characterful Lemminkäinen, Four Legends is as evocative to the ear as the storied Kalevala was enthralling to a nation. DID YOU KNOW? Unlike his contemporary Richard Strauss, who boasted he could set anything to music Sibelius tackles programmatic music by focusing on atmosphere over narrative translation. Read More

JEANETTE YU is Editorial Director at the San Francisco Symphony.

Concert Extras

Inside Music: an informative pre-concert talk by Elizabeth Seitz , begins one hour prior to concerts. Free to ticket holders. Learn More.

Off-The-Podium: a post-concert Q & A opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the conductor, guest artist, and SF Symphony musicians. Moderated by Mark C. Hanson.

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