Popular guest conductor Juanjo Mena will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony on Friday, October 19 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, October 21 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, and Saturday, October 20 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Acclaimed Italian pianist Benedetto Lupo makes his BSO debut performing Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3. Also on the program are selections from Dvorák's Slavonic Dances.
Tchaikovsky wrote his famed Fourth Symphony during the most turbulent time of his life. A former composition student of his named Antonina Milyukova had written a letter professing her undying love for the great composer, who saw it as fate that she entered his life. Before receiving her letter, Tchaikovsky had decided that in order to stifle rumors about his homosexuality and to fulfill his dying father's wishes, he should get married, but he was unsure of to whom. He and Milyukova were married in July 1877, after which Tchaikovsky suffered a nervous breakdown and fled to Ukraine, where he began composing the Fourth Symphony. The symphony was eventually finished in 1878 and premiered in Moscow by the Russian Musical Society.
Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3 was his last composition. He was composing this piece as a gift for his wife Ditta Pasztory-Bartók's 42ndbirthday, when he lost his battle with leukemia on September 26, 1945. The last seventeen measures of the work were completed by Tibor Serly, a friend and pupil of Bartók, who drew from Bartók's notes for the work. Compared to many of Bartók's earlier works, the Third Piano Concerto has a light, airy, almost neoclassical style. The completed work was premiered in Philadelphia on February 8, 1946 under Hungarian conductor Eugene Ormandy with György Sándor as piano soloist. Acclaimed Italian pianist and 1989 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition bronze medal-winner Benedetto Lupo makes his BSO debut with this popular work.
Dvo?ák's Slavonic Dances, originally written for two pianos, were inspired by Brahms' Hungarian Dances. Soon after publication, Dvo?ák was asked by his publisher to orchestrate the dances. The pieces, lively and overtly nationalistic, were well received at the time and today are among the composer's most memorable works, occasionally making appearances in popular culture. The BSO will be performing selections from Dvo?ák's first set, Opus 46.