Haydn London Symphony

Wed, June 26, 2024 6:30 pm


Grant Park Orchestra

Ludovic Morlot, conductor


Clarice Assad

Water Nymphs (world premiere)

Richard Strauss

Suite from Der Rosenkavalier

Franz Joseph Haydn

Symphony No. 104, London
Adagio – Allegro
Menuet: Allegro


Jay Pritzker Pavilion


Approx. 70 minutes


Tonight’s concert is being broadcast and streamed live on 98.7 WFMT/wfmt.com


Ludovic Morlot


Ludovic Morlot took over as Music Director of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in September 2022.

Morlot’s élan, elegance and intensity on stage have endeared him to audiences and orchestras worldwide, from the Berlin Philharmonic to the Boston Symphony. During his 8 years as Music Director of the Seattle Symphony he pushed the boundaries of traditional concert programming, winning several Grammys.  He is now Conductor Emeritus in Seattle, and in 2019 he was appointed Associate Artist of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he has had a close relationship over many years; he returns to both orchestras every season. He was Artistic Director and a founding member of the National Youth Orchestra of China 2017-2021, conducting their inaugural concerts at Carnegie Hall and in China in 2017, and touring with them to Europe in 2019. From 2012-2014 he was Chief Conductor of La Monnaie, conducting new productions in Brussels and at the Aix Easter Festival – including La Clemenza di Tito, Jenufa and Pelléas et Mélisande.

Morlot has conducted the Berliner Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Czech Philharmonic, Dresden Staaksapelle, London Philharmonic and Budapest Festival orchestras, and many of the leading North American orchestras, notably the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago and Boston Symphony Orchestras.  Morlot has a particularly strong connection with Boston, having been the Seiji Ozawa Fellowship Conductor at Tanglewood and subsequently appointed assistant conductor for the Boston Symphony. Since then he has conducted the orchestra in subscription concerts in Boston, at Tanglewood and on a tour to the west coast of America.  He has also appeared extensively in Asia and Australasia, notably with the Seoul Philharmonic, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras. Festival appearances have included the BBC Proms, Wien Modern, Edinburgh, and Aspen festivals.

One of the things I appreciate about the Seattle Symphony’s self-produced discography is how heavily it inclines toward rare and underserved repertoire… the latest release is led with vigor and suavity by Music Director Ludovic Morlot.

His tenure in Seattle formed a hugely significant period in the musical journey of the orchestra. His innovative programming encompassed not only his choice of repertoire, but theatrical productions and performances outside the traditional concert hall space. There were numerous collaborations with musicians from different genres, commissions and world premieres. Some of these projects, including John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean, Aaron Jay Kernis’ Violin Concerto performed by James Ehnes and an exploration of Dutilleux’s music, have earned the orchestra five Grammy Awards, as well as the distinction of being named Gramophone’s 2018 Orchestra of the Year. Morlot has released 19 recordings with the Seattle Symphony Media label which was launched in 2014.

Morlot opened last season with a concertante performance of Die Walküre at Seattle Opera, invited back for Samson et Dalila in January 2023 and for a fully-staged Rheingold in August 2023. In recent months he has conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco, Seattle, Utah and Sao Paulo symphonies. Guesting in Europe included the Netherlands Philharmonic, Copenhagen Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lille, Bergen Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Orquesta Castilla y Leon and of course Barcelona Symphony. He has a strong commitment to supporting emerging talent and regularly conducts students at the Colburn Conservatory. In 2021 he sat on the jury of the Leeds International Piano Competition and conducted students at the Royal Academy (London), New England Conservatory (Boston) and made his annual visit to the Aspen Festival.

Having trained as a violinist, he studied conducting at the Pierre Monteux School (USA) with Charles Bruck and Michael Jinbo. He continued his education in London at the Royal Academy and then at the Royal College as recipient of the Norman del Mar Conducting Fellowship. Ludovic is Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle and a Visiting Artist at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2014 in recognition of his significant contribution to music.


Clarice Assad 

Water Nymphs (Festival Commission) 

Scored for: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four French horns, two trumpets, two trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, piano, and strings

Performance time: 5 minutes 

World premiere performance 

“Water Nymphs draws inspiration from the enchanting mythical beings, also known as naiads, that have captivated humanity for centuries. The piece is a musical journey that explores the beauty, mystery, and power of these feminine spirits. The music ebbs and flows—at times gentle and shimmering, at others powerful and tempestuous—mirroring the capricious nature of the water nymphs themselves. Ethereal moments are juxtaposed with passages of intense energy, reflecting the duality of these beings as both alluring and sometimes dangerous. Water Nymphs pays homage to the enduring significance of these mythical creatures and serves as a reminder of the importance of cherishing our precious freshwater resources.”  

Clarice Assad, composer


Richard Strauss (arr. unknown, 1945) (1864-1949)  

Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, TrV 227, op.59 (1909)  

Scored for: three flutes including piccolo, three oboes including English Horn, four clarinets including bass clarinet, three bassoons including contrabassoon, four French horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, two harps, celesta, and strings

Performance time: 22 minutes 

First Grant Park Orchestra performance: June 22, 1996; James Sedares, conductor 

After mastering the late-Romantic orchestral tone poem in the 1880s, Richard Strauss dedicated much of his compositional energy in the twentieth century to opera. Establishing himself as a serious operatic composer with Salome (1905) and Elektra (1909), Strauss saw even greater success with Der Rosenkavalier. Composed in 1909–1910, Der Rosenkavalier eschews the dissonance of the previous two operas in favor of a mix of past musical styles. Just as the libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal intentionally references plays by Beaumarchais, Molière, Hogarth, and others (including notable parallels with Da Ponte’s Le Nozze di Figaro), Strauss’ score mixes elements of Mozart, Verdi, and Johann Strauss, Jr. Particularly, Strauss’ extensive use of the waltz grounds the opera in its Viennese setting and acts as a shorthand for the elegance of a bygone age. These historical references add another dimension to the opera, which itself is preoccupied with the passing of time and transformation.  

In the opera, Octavian, a young nobleman (played by a mezzo-soprano to emphasize his youth), is having an affair with an older married woman, the Marschallin. Baron Ochs, the Marschallin’s cousin, wants to marry the ingenue, Sophie. The Marschallin suggests Octavian act as the go-between for the proposal by presenting Sophie with a silver rose on Ochs’ behalf. Of course, Octavian and Sophie immediately fall in love and conspire to get rid of Baron Ochs so they can be together. In the ultimate act of love, the Marschallin puts Octavian’s happiness above her own and lets him go so he can be with Sophie.  

When Der Rosenkavalier premiered in Dresden in 1911, it was such a triumph that it saw over fifty performances in Dresden that year alone and soon made its way to theaters worldwide. Like any commercial success, the score was coopted for other purposes. That year, Strauss excerpted a waltz sequence from Act III for concert performance. Soon after, Otto Singer created a popular piano suite, which Strauss detested. Facing financial hardship due to the war, Strauss gave the New York Philharmonic his blessing to create a new suite from Der Rosenkavalier in 1944. Though the score bears no arranger’s name, it was likely the handiwork of Artur Rodziński, the conductor of the Philharmonic, perhaps with help from then-assistant conductor Leonard Bernstein. 

Though the Suite from Der Rosenkavalier does not follow the opera chronologically, it opens in the same way, with the leaping motif in the horns and bassoons suggesting Octavian’s raging hormones and the writhing chromaticism giving way to release as the curtain rises on the couple in bed after a night of passion. This scene segues into the Presentation of the Rose in Act II, where we hear the leitmotif of the silver rose in the glistening chords of the flutes, harps, celesta, and solo violins. Turbulent music ensues as Ochs discovers Octavian’s deceit in pursuing Sophie behind his back, followed by a series of waltzes as Ochs tries to win over Sophie. After the introduction to Act II comes the transcendent trio and duet that close the opera. This glimpse of heaven gives way to joyful, boisterous music as Baron Ochs is chased offstage by his creditors. 


Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)  

Symphony No.104 in D major London/Salomon (1795)  

Scored for: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two French horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings

Performance time: 29 minutes 

First Grant Park Orchestra performance: June 30, 1948; Nikolai Malko, conductor 

When Prince Nikolaus Esterházy died and his heir, Anton, dissolved the court’s musical establishment in 1790, Franz Joseph Haydn found himself essentially a free agent, having worked as Kapellmeister of Prince Esterházy’s court for nearly thirty years. Johan Peter Salomon, a German-born violinist and concert producer based in London, invited Haydn to the city with the promise of numerous commissions for Salomon’s concert series. Haydn’s works were already immensely popular there, though he had not yet visited, much to Londoners’ dismay. In January 1785, The Gazetteer & New Daily Advertiser jokingly suggested that some aspiring youths” kidnap Haydn from his post at Esterházy and bring him to the English capital.  

Haydn arrived in England on New Year’s Day 1791, making the biggest splash in London’s vibrant music scene since Handel’s operas debuted there. Haydn’s secluded life at the Esterházy court could scarcely prepare him for the barrage of visitors and social invitations that greeted him. He wrote, My arrival caused a great sensation . . . Everyone wants to know me.” He continued, If I wanted, I could dine out every day; but first I must consider my health, and second my work. Except for the nobility, I admit no callers until 2 o’clock.” After two exciting and prosperous seasons, Haydn returned to Vienna to fulfill his remaining obligations to Prince Anton. He returned to London for another two seasons in 1794, during which point he wrote the last six of his twelve London” symphonies.  

The last of these—and Haydn’s final offering in the genre—was Symphony No. 104. Nicknamed the London” Symphony, it premiered at the King’s Theatre on May 4, 1795, in a farewell benefit concert for the composer. Whether he knew this would be his last symphony, Symphony No. 104 nonetheless has an air of finality. Haydn even wrote at the bottom of the manuscript, Fine Laus Deo,” or The End, Praise God.” The grandest of his symphonies in terms of orchestration and proportion, it is an apt pinnacle of achievement for the man deemed the Father of the Symphony.” The work begins with a stentorian declamation in unison. This dotted motif outlining the interval of the fifth (D–A) suffuses the whole movement. After this bold statement and mournful Adagio comes a joyful Allegro, presenting a surprising contrast in mood (a Haydn specialty). The Andante reverses the framework of the first movement, beginning with a graceful G-major melody in the first violins, followed by an explosion of fury in full orchestra. Next, a cheeky Menuetto and Trio show Haydn at his most playful. Finally, the nickname London” Symphony comes not from the city of its composition but the main theme of the finale, which audiences misidentified as the London street cry Live cod!” or Hot Cross Buns.” In reality, the tune, set over a rustic drone in the horns, is a Croatian ballad called Oj Jelena,” which Haydn heard while in Eisenstadt serving the Esterházy court. 


Program Notes by Katherine Buzard