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12/18/95: How do you go about planning symphonic programs?

Programs may be made in many ways. The easiest perhaps is overture-concerto-symphony. This has been the standard for over a century (e.g., Leonore #3, Chopin 2nd Piano Concerto, Tchaikowsky Symphony #5). A variation on this is to make another part of the formula the centerpiece rather than the symphony. For example, a program I have chosen for next season is: Mozartís Marriage of Figaro Overture, Symphony in C of Stravinsky, and the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto. In the first half, the Mozart shows the source for the neo-classicism of a 1940ís composition. The lean textures of both nicely compliment the rich sonorities and large scale of the Brahms, which serves as the centerpiece.

Programs can be homogeneous (e.g., all Beethoven), contrasting (e.g., Stravinsky and Brahms), or thematic (e.g., Romeo & Juliet in music through the ages). In any case, like a fine meal in a restaurant, they must go well together and hold the patronís interest.

Remember though, no amount of good programming will overcome an indifferent performance.

©1995 by Joseph Rescigno. The text here may be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is given.

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