Our season concert, originally scheduled for Saturday, November 21, would have shined the spotlight on Berlioz’s alluring melodies and sensitive orchestration in the Overture to Les Troyens and his Symphonie fantastique: Épisode de la vie d’un artiste. Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3, featuring soloist William Hagen, was to have enhanced the aura of this distinctive concert.
* As a reminder, all season and family concerts have been canceled due to COVID-19. However, if you would like a sneak peek at the virtual concert experiences that will be created this year, here is a copy of our season brochure.
Please stay safe and we look forward to welcoming you back to Wentz Concert Hall soon!
William Hagen has performed as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician across the United States, Europe, and Asia. This season, William was to perform with orchestras across the United States, including his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival, and recitals and chamber music around the United States, England, France, and Spain. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, William began playing the violin at the age of 4. He has studied with Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School, Christian Tetzlaff at the Kronberg Academy, and was a longtime student of Robert Lipsett, studying with Mr. Lipsett both at the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts and at the Colburn Conservatory of Music. In 2015, William won 3rd prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, one of the highest-ranking Americans in the competition’s history.
Please read William Hagen's full biography here.
Listen & Watch here: Listen to Hagen play on his website.
Overture to Les Troyens
Though perhaps most famous for his Symphonie Fantastique, Hector Berlioz was an accomplished composer, with three operas (including Les Troyens) as well as a number of choral and orchestral works to his name during his 65 years of life. Les Troyens (“The Trojans”) was such a large undertaking that it was never staged in its entirety during Berlioz’ lifetime: the run time of all five acts can be in excess of six hours! The overture was written after the opera and evokes the fall of Troy.
Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61
Camille Saint-Saëns was born in October 1835 in Paris. The young Saint-Saëns studied organ and composition at the Paris Conservatory where, at the age of 20, his Symphony No. 1 was performed. Saint-Saëns wrote his third (and most often performed) Violin Concerto in B minor in 1880. The concerto is made up of three movements. The first, Allegro non troppo (Italian for “quickly, but not too fast”), opens with a virtuosic section from the violin, and continues with a bold principal theme and a number of scales, arpeggios, and double stops from the soloist. The second movement, Andantino quasi allegretto (“walking, almost quickly”), is the slowest of the three movements and flows gracefully. The third and final movement is the longest of the three movements. Beginning broadly and energetically, it becomes reverential, almost pastoral, in the middle section before returning for a majestic conclusion (hence the tempo markings for the movement: Molto moderato e maestoso – Allegro non troppo).
Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Hector Berlioz, born in 1803 in a small town in the French Alps, was originally trained as a physician, graduating from the School of Medicine of the University of Paris in 1824. However, thereafter he pursued his love of music. While studying composition at the Paris Conservatory, Hector attended a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, during which he developed a passion for the female lead, Harriet Smithson. She became his muse for Symphonie fantastique.
In the first movement (Part One: Daydreams, Passions), Berlioz imagines a young artist falling hopelessly in love with a woman (the melodic idée fixe in the symphony, which returns throughout the piece). In the second movement (Part Two: A Ball), the artist sees his love in numerous situations and locales but, unable to speak with her, his soul is troubled. The third movement (Part Three: Scene in the Fields) begins as the artist hears an idyllic tune from two shepherds. However, by the end of the movement, the artist is reminded of his loneliness. The fourth movement (Part Four: March to the Scaffold) imagines the artist, stricken with grief over his unrequited love, attempting to commit suicide. However, the dose of opium he takes is inadequate and, instead, leads to terrible visions including a dream that he kills the one he loves, leading to his own execution. In the fifth and final movement (Part Five: Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath), the artist finds himself at a meeting of witches and other monsters at which he sees his love has come to join the witches’ sabbath.