Esa-pekka Salonen Conducts Mozart & Sibelius

Friday, July 9, 2021
Davies Symphony Hall

Saturday, July 10, 2021
Frost Amphitheater


Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting
San Francisco Symphony

[attributed Johann Sebastian Bach] (arr. Otto Klemperer)
Bist du bei mir  ca. 1718 | 4 mins

Clarinet Concerto in A major, K.622  1791 | 28 mins
Rondo: Allegro
Carey Bell clarinet

Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 43  1902 | 43 mins
Tempo andante ma rubato
Vivacissimo—lento e soave
Allegro moderato

This program will be performed without intermission.

Lead sponsorship for the San Francisco Symphony’s concerts at Frost Amphitheater provided by The Sakurako & William Fisher Family.


San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen has, through his many high-profile conducting roles and work as a leading composer, shaped a unique vision for the present and future of the contemporary symphony orchestra. Salonen is currently the Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and is Artist in Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. He is a member of the faculty of the Colburn School in Los Angeles, where he developed and directs the pre-professional Negaunee Conducting Program. Salonen is the Conductor Laureate for both the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was Music Director from 1992 until 2009. Salonen co-founded—and from 2003 until 2018 served as the Artistic Director for—the annual Baltic Sea Festival.  

Carey Bell became San Francisco Symphony Principal Clarinet, occupying the William R. & Gretchen B. Kimball Chair, in 2007. He has held principal positions with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and the Syracuse Symphony, and served as acting principal clarinet of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and as guest principal clarinet with the Philadelphia Orchestra. His summer engagements include performances at the Marlboro Music Festival, [email protected], Oregon Bach Festival, and the Telluride Chamber Music Festival. A former member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, he has performed with orchestras and chamber ensembles around the Bay Area and taught at Stanford University. Mr. Bell received degrees in performance and composition from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and participated in summer fellowships at Tanglewood and the Music Academy of the West. After graduating, he continued his clarinet training at DePaul University and was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2016.

The San Francisco Symphony is widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the United States, celebrated for its artistic excellence, creative performance concepts, active touring, award-winning recordings, and standard-setting education programs. In the 2020–21 season, the San Francisco Symphony welcomes conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen as its twelfth Music Director and embarks on a new vision for the present and future of the orchestral landscape. This exciting artistic future builds on the remarkable 25-year tenure of Michael Tilson Thomas as the San Francisco Symphony’s Music Director. Tilson Thomas continues his rich relationship with the Symphony as its first Music Director Laureate. In their inaugural season together, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony introduce a groundbreaking artistic leadership model anchored by eight Collaborative Partners from a variety of cultural disciplines: Nicholas Britell, Julia Bullock, Claire Chase, Bryce Dessner, Pekka Kuusisto, Nico Muhly, Carol Reiley, and Esperanza Spalding. This group of visionary artists, thinkers, and doers joins with Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony to chart a new course of experimentation by collaborating on new ideas, breaking conventional rules, and creating unique and powerful experiences. February 2021 saw the launch of SFSymphony+, the San Francisco Symphony’s on-demand video streaming service. Learn more about the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony here.


The aria “Bist du bei mir” was long misattributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. It appears in the second Clavierbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach, a manuscript collection the composer presented to his wife in 1725. This Clavierbüchlein contains early versions of two of Bach’s keyboard partitas and “Bist du bei mir,” a lovely, uncomplicated piece composed to a text of affirming assurance. Possibly Bach or his wife had something to do with the accompaniment attached to it, but the melody is from the 1718 opera Diomedes by Bach’s contemporary Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1747). The score for that opera is lost, but this aria (with its correct authorship attached) survived in a manuscript compilation that was owned by the Berlin Singakademie, was believed to have been destroyed in World War II, and resurfaced in 2000 in an archive in Kiev.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) had a love affair with the clarinet, with its rich sonority and almost vocal qualities of expression, and late in his brief career he came to appreciate the instrument through the artistry of his good friend (and Viennese Court Orchestra clarinetist) Anton Stadler. In his Clarinet Concerto, Mozart left one of music’s most authentic utterances, a testament to happiness and sadness, to hope and resignation, to the realization that often in life such states represent not distinct polarities, but concurrent aspects of a deeper truth.     

The Second Symphony of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) is a rarity of the most heartening sort: a brave work that nonetheless pleased audiences from the outset. While Sibelius preferred that no programmatic implications be attached to this work, the symphony does seem to express something specific to the Finnish imagination. Sibelius’s sense of architecture is wholly his own, and his biographer Burnett James observes that “Sibelius the whole does not exist until its basic parts, its active nuclei, have been brought together and placed in a new and unexpected relationship.” Some of these seeds may take the entire symphony to germinate and blossom: The opening sounds of the first movement, tracing three rising notes of a scale, will come to full fruition in the grandly Romantic theme of the Finale.  

From notes by James M. Keller

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