Music Director Marin Alsop Leads Baltimore Symphony in Liszt’s Totentanz, Nov. 19-21

Featuring guest artist, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in two-week residency

Baltimore, Md. (October 2, 2009)—French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet returns to the Baltimore Symphony for the second consecutive week, under the baton of Marin Alsop, at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 19 at The Music Center at Strathmore and on Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The program includes the “Red Cape Tango” from Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony and Berlioz’s ground-breaking Romantic tour-de-force, Symphonie fantastique. After performing three Gershwin classics with the BSO during the previous week, Thibaudet will bring his “virtuosity,” as well as his “clarity and power” (L.A. Times) to the BSO stage again, this time for a performance of Liszt’s Totentanz.

American composer Michael Daugherty has a knack for writing unique and captivating compositions that pay homage to the academic classical tradition while exploring the heart of American pop culture. His Metropolis Symphony—first performed here in 1994 and dedicated to the BSO and its former music director David Zinman—is a musical response to the myth of Superman. Daugherty describes the bravura finale “Red Cape Tango” as a “musical bullfight” between Superman and Doomsday. The Medieval Latin death chant Dies Irae, featured in the finale, is a recurring theme for the concert as it also appears in both Liszt’s Totentanz and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

Totentanz (Dance of Death) is a piece that is famous for its tempestuous Romanticism and technical difficulty. Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Liszt is considered to be one of the most virtuosic pianists of all time, and there is no question that the skill that he had as a performing musician influenced his compositional imagination and prowess. Though Liszt began his sketches for Totentanz in the 1830s and completed the piece in 1849, it did not premiere until 1865. Like his other works, Totentanz is an expressive and evocative display of nineteenth-century Romanticism. Symphonie fantastique, written by the French composer Hector Berlioz, could be said to be an archetype of the Romantic spirit. Written in part based on his own infatuation with the English actress Harriet Smithson, Symphonie fantastique is subtitled “Episode in the Life of an Artist,” which makes explicit the autobiographical nature of its content. The music explores passion, obsession and the macabre, including a demonic Sabbath in the fifth movement. An idée fixe links all five movements, conjuring up the image of the main character’s beloved.

Classical Series: Demons, Drama and Dance
Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – The Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – JMSH

Marin Alsop, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

Michael Daugherty: “Red Cape Tango” from Metropolis Symphony
Liszt: Totentanz
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

Tickets for these concerts range from $25 to $80 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or

Visit for a wonderful interactive exploration of Berlioz' Symphony Fantastique created by the San Francisco Symphony.


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