São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

Opening Day: 1. concert

Thierry Fischer, conductor
Ives / Ginastera / Villa-Lobos / Varèse

City view of São Paulo in the 1950s with skyscrapers and park in the foreground

No “Tristes Tropiques”: View of São Paulo with the Martinelli Building, for a long time the tallest building in South America, in the 1950s. © ClassicStock / Alamy Stock photo

In the opening concert the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Thierry Fischer demonstrates the broad range of art music from the many “Americas”: Charles Ives evokes New York’s Central Park, while Heitor Villa-Lobos explores the sound worlds of South American rhythms. The Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera’s Violin Concerto is given a spectacular rendition by Hilary Hahn. And in Edgard Varèse’s “Amériques”, the utopia of endless space finds spectacular sonic form.

17:10, South Foyer
Work introduction

Sounds of nature meet the noise of the big city: in  “Central Park in the Dark” (1906), Charles Ives wanted to create a “picture in sounds of the sounds of nature that one would hear some thirty years ago […] when sitting on a bench in Central Park on a hot summer night” – including a ragtime battle between two pianolas from a neighbouring apartment block and a band wandering through the setting. Three decades later, Brazil would also experience its first wave of urbanisation. A soundtrack for this is provided by Heitor Villa-Lobos’s scintillating symphonic poem “Uirapurú”, in which he completed his shift to a national music style inspired by folk music together with the sagas and legends of his homeland. It is notable for its comprehensive and unusual instrumentation including a violinophone, a violin with a metal horn, and a broad arsenal of South American percussion instruments. In addition to these two works, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor Thierry Fischer have also programmed Alberto Ginastera’s uncompromisingly modern, multi-coloured and multi-faceted Violin Concerto. The solo part – not only in the finale’s wild perpetuum mobile – is riddled with such technical devilry that a spectacular listening adventure is guaranteed from multiple Grammy-winner  Hilary Hahn, who is capable of accomplishing such high wire acts with apparent ease. The final piece is an iconic work of new music that also offers a thematic introduction to this edition of the festival: Edgard Varèse’s “Amériques” finds musical forms for the utopias of vast space, imagination, expeditions, urbanisation, industrialisation and exploitation that old Europe long considered the New World to be.


Charles Ives (1874 – 1954)
Central Park in the Dark (1906, rev. ca. 1936)
for small orchestra

Alberto Ginastera (1916 – 1983)
Concerto for violin and orchestra (1963)

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887 – 1959)
Uirapurú (1917 – 1934)
Symphonic poem for orchestra

Edgard Varèse (1883 – 1965)
Amériques (1918 – 1921, rev. 1927)
for large orchestra


Hilary Hahn – violin

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Thierry Fischerconductor

A Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin event

Funded by means of Hauptstadtkulturfonds