In Washington, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is performing Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and Beethoven's impressive Piano Concerto No. 5 with artist in residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Ein Heldenleben is a special case. Over 100 years ago, Strauss dedicated the work 'to Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra'. In this work more than in any other, the composer proved he was a pioneer, writing a virtuoso part for nearly every group of instruments in the orchestra. Like many masterpieces, however, this overwhelming, turbulent composition initially resulted in resistance and misunderstanding. Now it is on every concert-goer's bucket list.