Concert of the Gewandhaus Orchestra


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Conductor Riccardo Chailly

Programme of the Concert:
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) Ouverture "Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum"  
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) Simphony No. 6 in A-minor

The Gewandhaus Orchestra

The Gewandhaus Orchestra can look back with pride on its more than 250-year history. Sixteen Leipzig merchants founded and financed a concert society which has since made musical history and become one of the world's most renowned orchestras. Felix Mendelssohn, Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Franz Konwitschny and Kurt Masur number among the most distinguished Gewandhaus Music Directors. They have left their imprint on this unique musical tradition, which Herbert Blomstedt carried forward into the new millennium. His successor, the 19th Gewandhaus Kapellmeister Riccardo Chailly, embodies tradition and change simultaneously.

The Gewandhaus Orchestra's schedule includes 70 Grand Concerts in Leipzig during each season. For over 200 years, it has also served as the house orchestra of the Leipzig Opera, in addition to its weekly performances of cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach at St. Thomas's Church and 35 guest appearances each season throughout the world as well as numerous recordings. Leipzig's reputation as the city of music can be largely attributed to the varied activities of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and its standing as the world's oldest civic concert orchestra.

No one could have predicted the success story of the Gewandhaus when, in March of 1743, sixteen Leipzig merchants gathered to found a concert society of sixteen musicians with the name "Grand Concert."

After three decades in the Three Swans Inn in Leipzig's Brühl neighbourhood, increasing audience interest made it necessary to find a new home. In 1781 the orchestra moved into a 500-seat hall with superb acoustics in the assembly hall of the cloth traders, the Gewandhaus (Garment House), to which the orchestra and its Leipzig performance venue owe their name.

When this concert hall was no longer able to accommodate the large numbers of people eager to attend performances, a second Gewandhaus in classical style was dedicated in December of 1884. A large hall for 1,500 listeners and a chamber music hall reminiscent of the old Gewandhaus hall with 500 seats offered the musicians a home in keeping with their quality and international standing.

During a bombing raid in February of 1944, the concert hall was badly damaged, and, despite arduous efforts to preserve it, the ruins were finally demolished in March of 1968. For nearly forty years, concerts were given in temporary quarters in the Congress Hall near the Leipzig Zoo. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the then Gewandhaus Music Director, Kurt Masur, the orchestra was finally able to move into a modern performance venue ideally suited to its musical, acoustical and technical requirements - the third Gewandhaus on Augustusplatz.

To this day, the majestic Schuke organ in the Great Hall bears an inscription with a quote from Seneca the Younger which has been the motto of the Gewandhaus since 1781: "Res severa verum gaudium" ("True pleasure is a serious business").

The 1,900-seat, semicircular Great hall, Mendelssohn Hall, with 500 seats, and the light-flooded Gewandhaus foyer form a unique architectural ensemble, aesthetically enhanced by statues and busts of musicians, regularly changing painting exhibitions and, above all, the monumental, four-story-high ceiling painting "Song of Life" by the Leipzig artist Sighard Gille.

Over 600 events take place every year at the Gewandhaus. Of these, the Grand Concerts by the Gewandhaus Orchestra form the focal point, along with concerts by the Gewandhaus Chorus and Children's Choir, numerous chamber music ensembles, the Gewandhaus Quartet, Gewandhaus Wind Quintet, the organ concerts and popular Saturday afternoon organ recitals.

The Gewandhaus's "Grand Concert" series has been named "Best Concert Programme of the 2008/2009 Season." In the opinion of the Deutscher Musikverleger-Verband (Association of German Music Publishers) the Gewandhaus Orchestra presented the best programming during the 2008/2009 season.

Riccardo Chailly

Riccardo Chailly devotes himself to both concert and operatic repertoire. The native of Milan has conducted the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared at the most important opera houses throughout the world: Milan's La Scala (where he made his debut in 1978), the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and the Zürich Opera. He opened the Salzburg Festival in 1984 and appeared as guest conductor at Salzburg's Easter Festival and at the Lucerne Festival.

Riccardo Chailly was Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1983 to 1986 and Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 1989. From 1986 to 1993 he was Music Director of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, where he conducted numerous opera productions with resounding success.

Since his appointment as Chief Conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (1988 to 2004), he has also devoted himself increasingly to symphonic repertoire. He delights a steadily growing audience not only with his performances of the great standard works but with many twentieth-century works as well. He has led the Concertgebouw Orchestra on numerous tours to the major European festivals (Vienna Festival and London Proms, among others) and recently completed the Millennium Tour with concerts in the US, Canada, Japan, and Europe. Tours with his Dutch orchestra have also taken him to South America, China, Korea, and Taiwan.

In 1994 he was awarded the title of Grand Officer of the Republic of Italy, and in 1996 he was made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London. In November 1998, on the occasion of his tenth anniversary as Chief Conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, he was awarded the title of Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. In 1998 he also became a Knight of the Grand Cross of the Republic of Italy.

In addition to his position in Amsterdam, on 1 July 1999 Riccardo Chailly accepted an appointment as Music Director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi.

Under its new Music Director, this municipal orchestra, founded by citizens of Milan, has become an internationally acclaimed ensemble which has since recorded ten CDs for the prestigious classical label Decca. He left the orchestra in 2005.