Gunpowder and Incense

This concert was played:

  1. Offertorium
  2. Symphony No. 3
  1. Han-Na Chang conductor
  2. Baiba Skride violin

Han-Na Chang conducts music by Ludwig van Beethoven and Sofia Gubaidulina.

Expect symphonic gunpowder as well as incense-scented mysticism when Han-Na Chang takes charge in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica, and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Offertorium. In the latter piece Bach’s aura is enveloped in a marvellous new world of sound which has granted the Russian composer an elevated standing in the music world. For Beethoven, “Eroica” had much the same effect in its time. He dedicated the epoch-defining, fiery symphony to his great hero, but withdrew the dedication in a rage when Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804.

He is nothing but a common mortal! He will come to consider himself superior to all others and become a tyrant! Beethoven’s furious reaction to the news that Napoleon had crowned himself emperor is not only confirmed by his friend and pupil, Ferdinand Ries, but is also evident in the composer’s actual manuscript, where Beethoven crossed out Napoleon’s name so hard that he made a hole in the paper. For Beethoven, Napoleon had been a symbol of the freedom ideals of a new France. In 1804, he realised that his hero had betrayed his own ideals. His brand new symphony could no longer be associated with the emperor Bonaparte, and he changed its epithet to Eroica.

Still, the music retains more than its fair share of explosive power, from the thundering opening blows, via the heavy funeral march to the sparkling finale, where tones from Beethoven’s Prometheus ballet play a critical part. This was the symphony which called classical ideals into question and heralded a time where raw power and strong emotions were allowed free play. From the first time Eroica was performed in Vienna in 1805, Beethoven had begun to pave the way for musical Romanticism at breakneck speed.

In quite another historical, geographical and musical context, 175 years after Beethoven crossed out Napoleon’s name in his manuscript, Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931) composed her violin concerto Offertorium. Here, her musical ideal was Johann Sebastian Bach, and his theme from Musikalisches Opfer forms the basis for her work. The theme is divded, such as in Anton Webern’s Bach arrangements, before it is gradually pushed into the background. Still, Bach’s voice remains constantly audible in her fascinating and contrast-filled musical language. The work plays a critical part in ensuring Gubaidulina’s status as one of the most important and distinctive composers of our time.

Like Gubaidulina, Han-Na Chang has quickly risen to prominence in our current musical world. The young American-Korean conductor has very quickly established herself on the international stage, and she was recently named Chief Conductor of Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. In this concert, she shares the stage with another talented young musician − the Latvian violin virtuoso Baiba Skride.

(In photo: Han-Na Chang, Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff)


  • Adult: 100 - 470 NOK
  • Senior: 100 - 375 NOK
  • Student: 100 - 235 NOK
  • Child: 100 NOK

The concert is included in the following subscriptions: