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Musical Landscapes Program at a Glance

Sep 15 2023

Tuesday, October 12, 2023   

This program could just as well be titled “National Fervor.” Musical Director Eckart Preu leads three works with immediately obvious national characteristics. Two are from countries that were part of larger empires when these pieces were written; only Romania was independent. Enescu summons a vast range of orchestral color to evoke Romanian folk instruments; Dvořák’s warm, dark colors summon up the forests he loved to walk in; Sibelius instantly paints a picture of the far North. All 3 composers fall naturally into using melodies and harmonies from the folk traditions of their countries.

The first Romanian Rhapsody by George Enescu was first heard in 1901 in Bucharest, when the composer was just 19. It has remained his most popular orchestral work ever since, by some accounts to Enescu’s great chagrin. Drawing on folk tunes from the countryside around Enescu’s birthplace, it is a great showpiece for orchestra, with important solos for the woodwinds and the principal viola, and exciting, demanding work for the full orchestra. It builds to a dizzying conclusion.

German pianist Andreas Boyde makes his PSO debut tonight playing Dvořák’s early piano concerto, which dates from 1876. The piece is not heard as often as the composer’s concertos for violin and especially cello, but it has nothing to apologize for. The orchestral writing is rich and original, with fine  solo moments for winds and solo horn. The melodies are attractive and used with great confidence. Pianists have complained that the keyboard writing is awkward, even impossible. Some have made their own versions of the piano part, but tonight’s soloist believes firmly that Dvořák’s original is the only version worth playing.

Finnish composer Jean Sibelius wrote his second symphony in 1901-02. After several performances in Helsinki, he revised the piece, and it is the 1903 version that is now usually heard. Early twentieth-century Finland was still under Russian rule; listeners then freely identified the soaring, memorable melody of the fourth movement with Finland’s desire for independence. While it’s not clear that Sibelius intended this, the symphony is a masterful portrait of his beloved country, passing through sun and storm to a triumphant, ringing conclusion.

– Martin Webster

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2425 chamber series

Announcing the all new Chamber Series

In honor of its 100th anniversary season, the Portland Symphony Orchestra steps beyond Merrill Auditorium and brings the music to you.

This all-new Chamber Music series celebrates the intimate and artistically vibrant nature of small musician led groups as they perform on stages throughout the state of Maine.


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Never been to a symphony before? Don’t worry, we’re here to help

Find the answers to all the questions about the orchestra you may be too afraid to ask!

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Bring your class to a youth concert

Coming in 2025… The Portland Symphony Orchestra partners with Carnegie Hall to present Link Up: The Orchestra Sings! Link Up is a fully participatory, school-day concert program. Students will fill Merrill Auditorium to sing, play recorders, move, and listen along with the symphony from their seats. This program is designed for students in grades 3-5 but all are welcome and encouraged to participate!

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Sarah Atwood

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Ticket sales cover only a portion of what it takes to produce the PSO’s artistic and education programs. Your generous support is vital in helping us deliver music programs that serve children and adult listeners.


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Meet the PSO’s Music Director


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