London Philharmonic explores Faust

Affairs of the heart and soul: three broadly contemporary nineteenth-century composers, whose music and outlooks were all wildly different, feature in this outstanding programme.

Wagner intended to write a full symphony around the Faust legend, but soon realized he was unlikely to finish it. His one-movement overture sees all the angst and suspense of the story concentrated into a few dramatic minutes of music.

While Wagner strayed across the boundaries of love, Brahms apparently missed out on romance: but his passion perhaps ran even more deeply as a result. His rhapsody for the lowest female voice and male choir is a heartfelt response to the discovery that the object of his affections was engaged elsewhere - and his feelings could go no further.

Franz Liszt was a renowned virtuoso, mystic, visionary, celebrity, and architect of new musical forms. But above all, Liszt was an entertainer. In his new ‘symphonic poems’, Liszt wanted to convey, heart-on-sleeve, the full swathe of human emotions. He hoovered up inspiration from everywhere, especially literature and art – so it’s appropriate that when novelist George Eliot visited Liszt in 1854, embryonic ideas for a symphony were beginning to form in the composer’s imagination. This became the ‘Faust’ Symphony, a work that gives voice to heroism, lament, passion and love, and takes the audience one step closer to Liszt’s turbulent, passionate soul.

FREE 6.15pm–6.45pm | Royal Festival Hall
Jessica Duchen explores the theme of Faust in music.

01 May 2010 7:30pm
Vladimir Jurowski conductor
Anna Larsson contralto
Peter Auty tenor
London Philharmonic Choir

Wagner Overture to Faust
Brahms Alto Rhapsody
Liszt Faust Symphony


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