Monday / 19:00
Monday / 19:00

Pinchas Zukerman / 40 years of Sinfonia Varsovia

The Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera, Warsaw
Orchestral concertsoff-premises


Sinfonia Varsovia
Pinchas Zukerman conductor, violin


Edward Elgar Serenade for String Orchestra in E minor, Op.20 [12’]
I. Allegro piacevole
II. Larghetto
III. Allegretto
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219 [31’]
I. Allegro aperto
II. Adagio
III. Rondeau: Tempo di menuetto




Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 “Italian” [27’]
I. Allegro vivace
II. Andante con moto
III. Con moto moderato
IV. Saltarello: Presto

Mozart’s violin concertos date from the early period of his career, when the composer lived in Salzburg – later he completely abandoned the creation of such works. He played the violin (and viola) proficiently, as his father, Leopold (by the way, the author of a highly regarded violin textbook) saw his son’s future precisely as a master of the violin. The latter, however, preferred the piano, and saw the episodic work of concertmaster rather as a compulsion. It is believed that all five concertos were written precisely with Wolfgang’s own performances in mind, but it is also possible that he composed some for the Italian violinist Antonio Brunetti, who was employed as Hofmusikdirektor – music director at the court of Salzburg’s archbishop, Hieronymus Colloredo. Although Mozart, according to his letters, sincerely loathed the aforementioned – both the violinist and his employer – it is possible that the concertos in question were commissioned by either of them. Brunetti’s performances of Mozart concertos are mentioned in the letters by his father. These works certainly enjoyed considerable success in Salzburg, and were also showpiece repertoire during the young composer’s travels. The Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K.219, from 1775 is perhaps the most popular of the group. Its graceful first movement is notable for the unusual beginning of the solo part, which resounds in a hushed adagio (the only such instance in all the composer’s concertos). The rather conventional second movement exposes the cantilena-like possibilities of the violin against the orchestral accompaniment, which is discreet here. Particularly delightful is the graceful final rondo, with a surprising “orientalizing” episode. Such stylizations were fashionable at the time, and another of this type by Mozart, the popular Rondo alla turca from the Piano Sonata in A Major, K.331, is particularly famous.

In 1830–1831, 20-year-old Felix Mendelssohn traveled throughout Italy. He absorbed the beauty of nature, admired historical monuments, and participated in lavish church ceremonies. And he composed a lot, as he mentions in his letters, writing about the symphonies he created: Scottish (which was a reminiscence of an earlier trip to the British Isles) and Italian. He completed the latter two years after his return from Italy, in early 1833, and conducted its premiere in London as early as May. Despite its success, he did not designate the symphony for publication, revising it several times. The last version of the work was written in 1847, shortly before the author’s death. It was never heard in this form – it was not performed until 1849 by the orchestra of Leipzig’s Gewandhaus conducted by Julius Rietz.

The energetic first movement, which begins with a bold, joyful theme, was seen as an echo of enthusiasm for the beauty of the southern land and the sensations of exploring it. The third movement, in the type of a courtly minuet, seems to recall the opulent interiors of Venetian, Florentine and Roman palaces. The most obvious musical Italianism is the lively finale in the rhythm of the saltarello dance typical of central Italy. The movement is in minor, so that the A major Symphony ends in A minor, which was a rather unusual tonal plan. The second movement, Andante con moto, invited many speculations. In its main, song-like theme, one wanted to see a trace of the chants Mendelssohn was supposed to have listened to during papal ceremonies in Rome. However, another hypothesis seems more convincing – during the final stage of work on the symphony, in 1832, two great German composers, mentors of the young Mendelssohn, died two months apart: the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the highly regarded composer Carl Friedrich Zelter. The second movement of the Italian shows melodic affinity with Zelter’s Ballad of the King in Thule to words from Goethe’s Faust. It is very possible that this was the author’s homage to both great figures.

In the second half of the 19th century, composers again turned to the orchestral serenade genre, somewhat forgotten by the Romantics. Brahms, enamored of the classics, once again turned to the genre with his Op. 11 and Op. 16. After him, serenades were also composed by Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Suk, Sibelius, Richard Strauss, and British composer Edward Elgar, among others. Three-movement Serenade in E Minor, Op. 20 (1892) for string orchestra of the latter dates from an early period before he achieved fame. Its premiere in Worcester by the forces of an all-female string orchestra founded by Elgar passed unnoticed, nor did publishers take any interest in it. Only the success of his other works brought this charming piece to the attention of listeners as well. Perhaps it echoes the composer’s fascination with the music of Antonín Dvořák, whom he met personally, playing as a violinist under the baton of the Czech master at the Birmingham festivals, among other venues. He was certainly also familiar with his very popular Serenade in E Minor, Op. 22, and the composer’s treatment of string material, using dense, saturated timbres and sweeping, expressive melodies, can be seen as a clear trace of it.


Pinchas Zukerman violin, viola, and conductor

With a celebrated career encompassing five decades, Pinchas Zukerman reigns as one of today’s most sought after and versatile musicians – violin and viola soloist, conductor, and chamber musician.  He is renowned as a virtuoso, admired for the expressive lyricism of his playing, singular beauty of tone, and impeccable musicianship, which can be heard throughout his discography of over 100 albums for which he gained two Grammy awards and 21 nominations.

This season’s highlights include performances with orchestra and in chamber music recitals, including those with the very distinguished Zukerman Trio, in Spain, Denmark, Sweden and France, and, in his Wolf Trap debut with cellist Amanda Forsyth and pianist Stephen Michael Brown. Orchestral performances abroad include the Adelaide Symphony, Orchestre de Lyon (in France and on tour in Spain), the Bamberg Symphony with Lahav Shani, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (in Rome and Salzburg), the Israel Philharmonic, L’Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto in Italy and the English Chamber Orchestra at Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. After a highly successful tour in Spain last season as a soloist with the Polish Sinfonia Varsovia, Zukerman rejoins the orchestra this season in Poland to conduct.

Recent highlights include performances with Dallas Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Mannheimer Philharmoniker, Adelaide Symphony, Orchestre National de Lyon and the Valencia, Sinfonia Varsovia, Castilla y Leon orchestras of Spain, Israel Philharmonic and Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. Chamber music concerts took place in Japan, Italy, France, Germany and the United States. He and cellist Amanda Forsyth collaborated with friends and colleagues from the Jerusalem String Quartet in sextet programs offered in both Israel and the US. He and Amanda Forsyth also appeared with the English Chamber Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Reading and New Bedford Symphonies. And with the Zukerman Trio, he visited the Ravinia, Aspen and Amelia Island Chamber Music Festivals, as well as Parlance Chamber Concerts in New Jersey, and Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

A devoted teacher and champion of young musicians, he has served as chair of the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music for over 25 years, and has taught at prominent institutions throughout the United Kingdom, Israel, China and Canada, among others. This season, he continues his role as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Artistic & Principal Education Partner, collaborating with DSO in partnership with Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, to provide intensive coaching and tutoring sessions for its music students.  

As a mentor he has inspired generations of young musicians who have achieved prominence in performing, teaching, and leading roles with music festivals around the globe. Mr. Zukerman has received honorary doctorates from Brown University, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of Calgary, as well as the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan. He is a recipient of the Isaac Stern Award for Artistic Excellence in Classical Music. 


October 2023