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In World War II, the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth symbolized “V for victory,” a reference to Morse Code (• • • —)….And then came the music of Chuck Berry, Saturday Night Fever, Doctor Who, a video game, and Judge Judy, who all riffed off this same phrase. Using only four notes, Beethoven crafted a legendary musical hook which doesn’t just open his Fifth Symphony, it permeates nearly every bar for 35 glorious minutes. Come along with the San Francisco Symphony as we celebrate Beethoven250. The electrifying young conductor Mirga Gražinyté-Tyla makes her Symphony debut, opening with a thunderous and bluesy overture by Lithuanian composer Raminta Šerkšnytė (who ingeniously slips in a punchline that quotes Beethoven’s Fifth). Then, violinist Gidon Kremer returns to perform a concerto by Mieczysław Weinberg, a gifted Polish-Jewish composer championed by both Mirga and Gidon.
Symphony No. 5
All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.