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San Francisco Symphony Chorus

San Francisco Symphony


Johannes Brahms
Gesang der Parzen (Song of the Fates)
Johannes Brahms
Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny)
Johannes Brahms
Symphony No. 6
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Davies Symphony Hall

Thu, May 26, 2022 at 7:30PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Fri, May 27, 2022 at 7:30PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Sat, May 28, 2022 at 7:30PM

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If you would like assistance purchasing tickets for patrons with disabilities, please call the box office at 415-864-6000.


Event Description

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, nicknamed Pathétique to describe the emotional turmoil evoked by its lush orchestral writing, anchors this program led by conductor Nathalie Stutzmann. Listen as the music twists its way through moments of touching tenderness and overwhelming passion before arriving at a deeply introspective final movement that has floored audiences since the work’s premiere in 1893. The program opens with three choral works by Johannes Brahms inspired by Classical mythology and featuring the SF Symphony Chorus.

For more information, including full program notes, visit the San Francisco Symphony’s digital program book platform at or text “SFS Concert” to 55741.

At A Glance

Johanes Brahms’s works for chorus and orchestra are relative rarities. This concert offers three of the lesser-known entries from this area of his output. Each of them considers a similar topic—the impotence of humanity within the pitiless progression of fate or destiny. Despite their shared subject matter, Brahms imbues each with a distinct musical character. Nänie soars on wings of neo-Baroque counterpoint; Gesang der Parzen (Song of the Fates) chills the bones with grim monumentality; and Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) surrounds an expressive choral narrative with a prelude and postlude of exquisite orchestral writing.

 “I certainly regard it as easily the best—and especially the most ‘sincere’—of all my works” Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky said to a friend of his Sixth Symphony. He wrote another, “Without exaggeration, I have put my whole soul into this work.” However the premiere, led by the composer, was met with some puzzlement. The music seemed, somehow, “unfinal.” Yet the second performance, just three weeks later, made a powerful impression. Why? Between the two first performances, Tchaikovsky died unexpectedly. What a bewildering experience it must have been for early listeners of this astonishingly soulful piece, which ends with music that simply passes beyond our hearing.

—After notes by James M. Keller and Michael Steinberg

Concert Extras

Pre-Concert Talk: Join us for an informative “Inside Music” talk from the stage with James Keller. Free to all ticketholders, these talks begin one hour before the May 26-28 performances. Doors open 15 minutes before.

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