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Sasha Cooke


Luca Pisaroni


San Francisco Symphony



Igor Stravinsky

Violin Concerto

Johannes Brahms
All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.


Davies Symphony Hall

Fri, Feb 23, 2024 at 7:30PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Sat, Feb 24, 2024 at 7:30PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Sun, Feb 25, 2024 at 2:00PM

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Event Description

Joining Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, violinist Julia Fischer makes her long-awaited return to the San Francisco Symphony in Brahms’s Violin Concerto. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, tenor Nicholas Phan, and baritone Luca Pisaroni—all regular collaborators with the Symphony—sing in Stravinsky’s cheeky neoclassical ballet Pulcinella, which the composer called “the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible.”

These performances are supported by the Wattis Special Performance Fund.

These concerts are generously sponsored by the Athena T. Blackburn Endowed Fund for Russian Music.


Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella, based on Baroque music attributed to Giovanni Batista Pergolesi, unleashed a barrage of criticism. As he later recalled, “I was attacked for being a pasticheur, chided for composing ‘simple’ music, blamed for deserting ‘modernism,’ accused of renouncing ‘my true Russian heritage.’ People who had never heard of, or cared about, the originals cried sacrilege: ‘The classics are ours. Leave the classics alone.’ To them all, my answer was and is the same: You ‘respect,’ but I love.”

The same characteristics that baffled Johannes Brahms's contemporaries are now so commonplace that we might forget how radical the Violin Concerto sounded to late-19th-century ears. Brahms was a big fan of hemiola, the ancient practice of setting two beats against triple meter or three beats against duple meter; the Violin Concerto is full of such rhythmic effects. Harmonically, the concerto is just as ambitious, offering new, sometimes startling adaptations of traditional developments and resolutions that even non-musicians subconsciously expect. Brahms might not have been a radical, but he was a stealthy subversive, slipping his subtle heterodoxies into deceptively pretty packages.

Enrich Your Experience

  • Friday, February 23 from 6:30pm-7:00pm: Get to know SF Symphony musicians in a preconcert conversation presented from the stage. Free to all ticketholders.

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