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In Turning Points, the Chicago Philharmonic showcases three compositions that each represent a shift in their composer’s life, and thus, their art.
- Schubert—Symphony No. 8 in B Minor (Unfinished Symphony): Only two of four promised movements exist of Schubert’s penultimate symphony, but music scholars spent nearly 100 years attempting to prove the missing half still existed somewhere. Today, they agree that he probably never wrote the third or fourth movements, as he was staring down death at the time. Luckily, the first and second are more than enough to satisfy. In the former, the melody rises on a wave of ethereal beauty before plunging into darker waters with a key change into B minor. The latter movement picks things back up again into a cheerful, if more stately, tone.
- Brahms—Piano Concerto No. 1: Brahms’s first piano concerto springs fully matured from grief and confusion. When his mentor, Robert Schumann, began to suffer hallucinations and pain from syphilis, he was placed in the institution where he would die two years later. Brahms, meanwhile, became a source of comfort for Schumann’s wife, Clara, and their friendship—fed by piano duets—began evolving into something more. Written during this time, critical ears can detect Brahms’s conflicting emotions as the concerto unfolds. Renowned solo pianist Robert McDonald, longtime teacher of countless students at Curtis and Juilliard, will be featured on piano.
- Kilar—Little Overture: Prior to 1955, Wojciech Kilar was known for the small compositions he wrote for chamber orchestras—if he was known at all. But in that year, he released Small Overture, his first major success and the work that launched his storied career in the cinema. Indeed, he’s best known today for his film scores—130 in total—which include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Truman Show, and We Own the Night.
Photo credit: Ben Harper
When the Chicago Philharmonic was founded in 1988, it was a tightly knit ensemble consisting of principals from the Lyric Opera Orchestra. Since then, it has blossomed into a collective of more than 200 professional Chicagoland musicians. But despite the increased size and bow-tie budget, the players have lost none of their precision or dynamic nature, prompting the Chicago Tribune to herald the group as “one of the country's finest symphonic orchestras.”