Since 2004, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has performed a free, open air concert at UNESCO World Heritage Site, Schönbrunn Palace, https://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/ drawing as many as 90,000 people as it did this year. This gift to the citizens of Vienna, tourists and those who will enjoy an enchanting evening via television around the world, offers the Orchestra the opportunity to introduce themselves to a new generation of classical music enthusiasts and connect with their loyal audience.

To enhance your enjoyment of the televised performance on PBS on Friday evening, August 18th at 9:00 pm, the text below was adapted from original event program written by Otto Biba.

Summer Concert 2017 Program

Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Hapsburg Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, followed by the Emperor of Austria. During the occupation of Vienna, it was the residence of the French Emperor Napoleon between 1805 and 1809. Nevertheless, for many visitors, the palace and its surrounding park have always represented a supposed fairytale world - a modern day legend with a worldwide presence. Fairy tales and myths, legends and sagas are closely entwined with many composers and compositions. They have served as inspiration, models and sources for many musical works and several of these have been selected for the concert. Some are new and some are old; some are German, Bohemian, and Russian; some are based on literary models and one is a composer's opinion about a myth.

Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904) Carnival Concert Overture, op.92,
is part of a triptych of three overtures that were dedicated to the sweeping thematic constellation of nature, life and love. One is contingent upon the other and philosophers busy themselves with these concepts as does everyone else. Dvorák's musical treatment of this triad developed into a myth in the original Greek sense of the word - as a story in which concepts and events take on great symbolic meaning. For Dvorák, the secret of life is to be equated with beauty and joy and to be explained in such terms. The title of "Carnival" is not to be interpreted as describing a Mardi Gras festival per se, but rather the joy of life in general, which although clearly embodied by a carnival celebration, is not bound to temporality. Life whirls and romps in Dvorák's music and demonstrates the joyful commotion of human happiness based on the opportunities for expression which nature, whether understood pantheistically or as a divine creation, provides.
 
Antonín Dvorák "Za štíhlou gazelou" (As I merrily pursued a gazelle) Aria of Armida from "Armida", op.115
Armida is a sorceress who loves the crusader knight Rinaldo and binds him to herself using magical powers in her enchanted garden. With Torquato Tasso's La Gerusalemme liberata, this fairy tale or myth made its appearance in literature in 1575, and as material for an opera, the personality of the sorceress Armida has inspired Handel, Salieri, Gluck, Haydn, Rossini, Dvorák and many others. Seite 25 26 opera "Armida", op.115, is the last of his operas and was premiered in Prague in 1904, the year of his death. Renée Fleming will sing the great aria of Armida, Za štihlou gazelou, from the first act, in which Armida declares her love for the foreign knight, whom she has only briefly seen during a hunt chasing a gazelle. It was a forbidden love for a man who had entered her land as an enemy. In spite of this situation, she intends to win him. The aria, removed from the original opera plot, has become standard repertoire for dramatic sopranos.
 
Antonín Dvorák "Mesícku na nebi hlubokém" (Song to the Moon) from "Rusalka", op.114

'Rusalka' (the name for a mermaid in Czech) falls in love with a man and therefore wishes to become human. This transformation is made possible for her, but ultimately ends unhappily. This fairy tale forms the plot of Antonín Dvorák's opera "Rusalka", op. 114. It was his penultimate opera, being composed in 1900 and premiered in Prague in 1901. It remains his most successful stage work. In the ‘Song to the Moon’, the mermaid, Rusalka, tells the moon of her love for a prince who often comes to bathe in the lake in which she lives. She asks the moon to tell him that she, a mermaid, loves him. The aria is full of desire and love - a romantic scene in the moonlight.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) "The Sleeping Beauty", Ballet Suite, op. 66a,
II. Adagio. Pas d’action
V. Waltz


One of Tchaikovsky's most famous works, ballet Sleeping Beauty, op. 66, is wonderful music and should be examined within its larger context. Sleeping Beauty is fairy tale material from the Middle Ages in France, which was also known in Catalonia and Italy and later in the German speaking countries as well. The Brothers Grimm included it in their Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), published in 1812. The similarity of the figure of Sleeping Beauty with Brünhild of the Nibelungen Saga is unmistakable. Both fell into a long sleep after having been pricked - one by a spindle and the other by a hawthorn and both were laid in guarded fortresses - one protected by thorny hedges and the other surrounded by a ring of fire. The Sleeping Beauty material has been repeatedly set to music. In opera it was done by Engelbert Humperdinck and Ottorino Respighi and as a ballet it was used by Ferdinand Hérold, Maurice Ravel and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Without a doubt, Tchaikovsky's ballet Sleeping Beauty, which was premiered in 1890 in St. Petersburg, is the only version that is widely known today.

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) "Sumerki"(Twilight), op. 21, No. 3 Orchestration: Walter Mnatsakanov

"Ne poy, krasavitsa, pri mne!" (Never Sing to Me Again, Beautiful Maiden), op. 4, No. 4 Orchestration: Leonidas Leonardi

"Vesenniye vodi" (Spring Waters), op. 14, No. 1 1 Orchestration: Walter Mnatsakanov


Composer, pianist and conductor Sergei Rachmaninov was born in Russia, fled the October Revolution, continually alternated his place of residence between Western Europe and North America and eventually died in Beverly Hills in 1943. The Russian conductor Walter Mnatsakanov arranged many of Rachmaninov's piano accompaniments for large orchestras. Three of them are included on the program of this year's Summer Night Concert. In the first, "Dämmerung (Twilight)" op. 21/3, self–doubt and loneliness are portrayed. ("No one asked if I wanted to be born as a butterfly, or a starfish or a bird, ..."). In the second (op. 4/4), the poet requests that he not be sung the trouble–free melodies of Georgia, which remind him how different life is there and how far away from it he is removed. The text is Pushkin's declaration of love for the land that he often visited. The third song on the program (op. 14/1 1) is a dream of spring at a time when, although snow is still lying on the ground, winter is nevertheless drawing to a close. As in all of Rachmaninov's songs, the melody itself is not foremost, but rather the thrilling and illustrative use of the harmonic colors. In the instrumentation for large orchestra, this becomes even clearer.

Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) Prelude to "Hansel and Gretel" Engelbert Humperdinck was born in 1854 near Cologne and lived for long periods in Frankfurt and Boppard before finally settling in Berlin. He is one of the composers about whom the question has been raised as to why only one of his many respected and worthy compositions, the opera "Hansel und Gretel", has maintained a place in the modern repertoire. Humperdinck's sister, Adelheid Wette, requested that he write music for several verses of a fairytale play that she wished to perform in the home for family. This was so well received that they decided to develop the material into a Singspiel. This eventually evolved into a full opera which became the most successful fairytale opera in the history of music. The acceptance and popularity of this work is underscored by the fact that some of its melodies have achieved folksong status and are often themselves assumed to be quotes from folksongs. Every section of this opera has been calculated in brevity to be suitable for children and not too long in overall duration. In contrast, the overture itself is extensive, representing a type of symphonic prologue which Humperdinck thought could be entitled a "Child's Life".

John Williams (1932- ) Hedwig’s Theme from "Harry Potter"
The character of Harry Potter and the fantasy world created by the British author, J. K. Rowling has today become well known around the world. For the first three of eight films that have been produced based on the seven books of Rowling's Harry Potter series, John Williams was the composer of the music. From the first film in 2001, Hedwig's Theme became world famous and on today's program represents the modern world of fairy tales. Williams was born in Queens (New York), as the son of an orchestral musician, and at an early age displayed precocious musical aptitude. He received a classical music education, studying composition with Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco at the University of California in Los Angeles. At the Julliard School of Music in New York he studied piano, and published as his first composition a piano sonata in 1951. Other compositions followed in the so-called classical genre, until he gradually found his true calling with the composition of film music. He has won numerous Oscar and Grammy awards and is a convincing example of the fact that film music should also have artistic value, which in the era of electronic music production with all of its possibilities, is no longer self-evident.

Igor Strawinsky (1882-1971) "L'Oiseau de feu" (The Firebird) Ballet Suite (1919 Version)
V. Danse infernale du Roi Kachtcheï (Infernal Dance of King Kashcheï)
VI. Berceuse (Lullaby)
VII. Finale

The 'glowing one' or 'firebird', which brings good or bad luck to the person who captures it, is a figure in the Slavic and, most particularly, Russian fairy tale world. With the 1910 premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet "The Firebird" in Paris and the concert suite which was drawn from the music of the ballet, this figure came to be internationally known. In the ballet, the fairy tale of the firebird is combined with that of the magician King Kastchei. The "Danse infernale de roi Kastchei" is truly a hellish dance that makes a great impression even without any knowledge of its setting in the plot of the ballet. In this music, the composer utilizes all his artistry in his treatment of the orchestra and the instrumentation, while the performers must likewise have their individual parts completely mastered. This produces an incomparably effective and devilishly wild musical experience. The Berceuse affords a peaceful respite in the musical proceedings before the Finale once again turns into a brilliant orchestral show – a piece featuring tonal and technical complexity that had not yet been heard at that time. Stravinsky, the "rythmical head devil", as he was described by his contemporaries, Heinrich Strobel and Alfred Heuss, also celebrates "rhythmic orgies" in this composition, as can be found in all of his ballet music. No one before had utilized rhythm and rhythmic compositional elements like Stravinsky