22 May 2013
While performing arts groups around the world have taken the 2012-13 season to celebrate the music of Richard Wagner, it was on May 22 in 1813 that the man who defined “gesamtkunstwerk” was born. The New York Philharmonic tips its hat to Wagner’s works with A Ring Journey, an “orchestral synthesis” of the composer’s epic Ring Cycle arranged by our very own Alan Gilbert (after Erich Leinsdorf).
Meanwhile, you can sate your appetite for all things Niebelungen thanks to the Philharmonic’s Digital Archives, which houses a number of scores from all four parts of the Ring, many (like the excerpts shown above) marked by Leonard Bernstein.
17 May 2013
Jimmy and Lenny
Congratulations to James Levine as he prepares to return to the concert stage this weekend, following a two-year hiatus. While his performance this weekend will be with his “home” team of The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Jimmy would occasionally step next door to conduct the Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall (you can see the full measure of his appearances with us by searching his name here). In this photo from the Digital Archives, he shares shop talk with Leonard Bernstein.
Welcome back, Jimmy!
10 May 2013
On what would have been Milton Babbitt’s 97th birthday, here’s a gift to all of us from the Digital Archives: the unpublished manuscript to the composer’s Relata II, as marked by Leonard Bernstein (its dedicatee) before he, as our Music Director, conducted it as part of the Philharmonic’s 125th anniversary season. The program preceding it was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (with Isaac Stern as the soloist). You can page through the entire score here.
7 May 2013
May 7 also holds a special place in history as the date on which Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was first heard in Vienna in 1824. We perform the work under Alan Gilbert this October (paired with the U.S. Premiere of a Philharmonic Co-Commission, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze), but in the meantime we’re revisiting Leonard Bernstein’s performance of the work in Berlin on Christmas, 1989. In honor of the Berlin Wall falling less than two months prior, Beethoven’s famous “Ode to Joy” (freude) was rechristened the “Ode to Freedom” (freiheit). If you look closely, you can even spot some still-current Philharmonic musicians in this orchestra.
Meanwhile, this Saturday we revisit the Berlin Konzerthaus for the first time since 1988, when it was still part of East Berlin, with Alan and the Orchestra serving up Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, Pathétique.
23 April 2013
Da! Nyet! Crash!
Social climbers, Russian-speaking computers, and unexpected cymbal crashes. We couldn’t really predict what tidbits users worldwide might pull from the more than 1.3 million pages of photos, programs, scores, and documents in the New York Philharmonic’s Digital Archives when the project launched in 2011.(Newly released: more than a half-million pages of parts marked by Philharmonic musicians)
17 April 2013
The first piece Joshua Bell ever performed on his current violin, the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius? Bernstein’s Serenade. As the violinist tells Forbes, he played it at Royal Albert Hall in 2001 just four hours after stumbling on the Strad in a London shop, “which you usually wouldn’t want to do after knowing an instrument for four hours, but I was so in love with it, I just didn’t want to play on anything else,” He also recorded the work that year for
(Photo: Chris Lee)
15 April 2013
Turning our thoughts and hearts to the city of Boston this afternoon. We hope that you’re safe and well up there.
12 April 2013
Sweet Lovers Love the Spring
In 1958 Leonard Bernstein and the Philharmonic took to the Colorama Ballroom in Brooklyn’s Hotel St. George to offer up a rendition of The Rite of Spring, a work Lenny described as “only one of your everyday volcanic masterpieces … a miraculous new creation of such originality and power that still today it shocks and overwhelms us.” The recording remained one of the landmark renditions of the work and a highlight of the Phil’s discography.
On April 30, this riotous Rite returns to circulation when it is remastered and re-released on Sony Masterworks. It’s available to pre-order now on Amazon.com — in honor of which we delve into the Digital Archives for a more quiet riot as one violinist begs for mercy in a climactic bit of the score.
10 April 2013
The Court Jester
While Danny Kaye was born in 1911, he lists 1913 as his year of birth, which means that the jester of Brooklyn is being celebrated in style in his centenary year.
Kaye made ‘em laugh a number of times with the Philharmonic: He conducted three Orchestra pension benefit concerts in 1958, 1965, and 1981, appearing with Dimitri Mitropoulos, Leonard Bernstein, and Zubin Mehta. Our Digital Archives has much of the magic captured on camera — we especially love the program caveat from his 1958 concert.