Jakub Hrůša leads the Concertgebouworkest in works by Firsova, Smirnov, Janáček and Lutosławski which tell a story about music and oppression. Artist in residence Yefim Bronfman performs as soloist in a new work by Elena Firsova.
Sometimes the most beautiful and powerful music comes into being under extreme pressure.
Dates and tickets
About this concert
Master pianist Yefim Bronfman concludes his residency with the Concertgebouworkest with a performance of a new piano concerto by the leading Russian composer Elena Firsova. This special world premiere is part of a fascinating programme conducted by Jakub Hrůša focusing on the tense relationship between music and dictatorship.
Firsova and her husband Dmitry Smirnov were placed on a blacklist of composers in 1979 and for years were impeded in their work by the Soviet regime. Their music was branded a ‘noisy mess’ – a description we can hardly fathom today listening to Smirnov’s Pastorale with its gracefully interwoven lines and cheerful bird choruses. The couple emigrated to the UK in 1991, where Smirnov died in April 2020.
The Polish composer Witold Lutosławski had faced a ban as early as 1954; in his Concerto for Orchestra, he turned to folk music so as not to further arouse the anger of the officials. The work eventually found its way to the West, where it would become a true twentieth-century classic. Sometimes the most beautiful and powerful music comes into being under extreme pressure.
Leoš Janáček died long before his native Czechoslovakia was annexed by the Soviet Union; his last opera, From the House of the Dead, portrays the inhumane living conditions of a Siberian prison camp in the mid-nineteenth century.