Berliner Philharmoniker I

Jonathan Nott, Leitung
Mazzoli / Eötvös / Ives

Railway in the high mountains on a bridge over a river

Not “The Celestial Railroad”, but still a railway almost in the sky: the Georgetown Loop Railroad in the Rocky Mountains, c. 1885 © Louis Charles McClure

Music that tames time: Missy Mazzoli stretches a tiny moment of the Orpheus saga out into a whole suite, while Peter Eötvös’s homage to his friend, the Hungarian-French pianist Györgi (Georges) Cziffra recounts a dramatic European life in the form of a rhapsody. To follow, the Berliner Philharmoniker perform symphony music on its broadest scale in one of Charles Ives’s major works: his Fourth Symphony from 1925 collages one hundred years of collective American memories into a piece of avantgarde music.

18:15, South Foyer
Work introduction

Peter Eötvös remembers: Georges Cziffra studied with Eötvös’s mother at the Music Academy in Budapest “so I had the chance to get to know him myself when I was still a child.” After an unsuccessful attempt to escape in the early 1950s, the Hungarian piano virtuoso was sentenced to forced labour, and it was not until 1956 that he could leave Hungary for Paris, where he embarked on a global career. To mark his 100th birthday, Peter Eötvös composed the piano concerto “Cziffra Psodia”, a rhapsodic piece of music that mirrors Cziffra’s dramatic life in sound: the metallic rhythm in the first movement, for example, is reminiscent of “the work in a quarry during his imprisonment. The later, meditative state of the moments of his withdrawal from the public life has been composed in three quiet cadenzas.” In the Berliner Philharmoniker’s concert conducted by Jonathan Nott, the solo part is taken by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, winner of the 2017 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. The evening opens with the music of Missy Mazzoli: the New York composer succeeds in finding new thematic and musical facets in the ancient material of the Orpheus saga – already the subject of the first opera in musical history, Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” – by focusing on the moment of loss, of loneliness rather than on the search. After the interval, the programme features a philosophical work in Charles Ives’s Fourth Symphony, that starts with Lowell Mason’s hymn “Watchman, Tell us of the Night” with its “urgent question about what and why” (Ives) and Nathanael Hawthorne’s short sory “The Celestial Railroad”. The music consists of sound groups alternating internally that operate on different dynamic, spatial levels, with the whole piece being made up of Ives’s typical mixture of religious hymns, folk songs and patriotic songs.  


Missy Mazzoli (*1980)
Orpheus undone (2020)
Suite for orchestra

In memoriam
Peter Eötvös (1944 – 2024)
Cziffra Psodia (2020)
for piano and orchestra

German premiere

Charles Ives (1874 – 1954)
Symphony No. 4 (1910 – 1925)

An event by Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation in cooperation with Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin