Pianist Gary Graffman joined the Curtis family at the tender age of seven, when he was accepted as a student. Throughout a celebrated career as soloist, teacher, and administrator, he has left his mark on music through his own performances and those of his students. In celebration of Mr. Graffman’s 90th birthday, alumnus Haochen Zhang (’12) returns to perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, a romantic powerhouse and staple of the Graffman legacy. The program also features Igor Stravinsky’s beloved ballet Petrushka, a house specialty since the days when conductor Leopold Stokowski led the Curtis orchestra; and Brio, a 2018 work exuding vitality and virtuosity by this year’s composer in residence, Augusta Read Thomas. The dynamic Giancarlo Guerrero, a Curtis favorite, returns to conduct.
- Augusta Read Thomas wrote Brio to honor an arts patron whose personality embodies “brio” – which Webster’s Dictionary defines as “vigor, vivacity, gusto, verve, zest, enthusiasm, vitality, dynamism, animation, spirit, energy.” In music, this Italian term has the same meaning, and you will often see movements headed “Con brio” (“With vigor”). The composer created a colorful map of the work’s form (scroll down the page) that captures the many nuances of “brio” while also serving as a guide to the music.
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
- Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto is considered one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the classical repertoire. Vladimir Horowitz, who taught Gary Graffman, called it “elephantine.”
- The concerto was featured in the 1996 movie Shine, which tells the story of the pianist David Helfgott.
- The first recording of Petrushka was made by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1937.
- The Shrovetide Fair depicted in the music is essentially the Russian equivalent of Carnival or Mardi Gras (also known as Shrove Tuesday).
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Orchestral concerts are supported by the Jack Wolgin Curtis Orchestral Concerts Endowment Fund.
Guest conductor appearances for each Curtis Symphony Orchestra performance are made possible by the Gustave and Rita Hauser Chair.