Klaus Mäkelä
Gautier Capuçon
Benjamin Britten
Béla Bartók

Bartók’s most popular orchestral work

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Foto Kaupo Kikkas

Bartók’s most popular orchestral work

Klaus Mäkelä conducts music by two composer giants of the 20th century: Divertimento for chamber orchestra and Concerto for Orchestra by Béla Bartók, and Benjamin Britten’s Cello Symphony with Gautier Capuçon as the soloist.

In 1939, Béla Bartók (1881-1945) found himself in a difficult situation as an oppositionist in his native Hungary. A commission from the conductor Paul Sacher offered a change: Sacher ordered a Divertimento for chamber orchestra – a format that had its heyday in the 18th century and was intended to entertain and amuse the audience.

Sacher made an idyllic cottage in Switzerland available to the composer, including a piano and a cook. In the span of two weeks, Bartók wrote a stunning work that combines summery energy with effects from the 18th-century concerto grosso form, with contrasts between smaller groups and the full orchestra.

In the fall of 1940, Béla Bartók emigrated from Hungary to the United States with his wife Ditta, and settled in New York. He did not settle very well, and the following years were marked by serious health problems. Bartók had many acquaintances in the city, and was a sought-after lecturer, but was relatively unknown as a composer.

During a hospital stay, he was visited by the conductor Serge Koussevitzky, who ordered an orchestral work for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The commission renewed his strength, and the premiere in 1944 was a huge success. Concerto for Orchestra became Bartók’s most popular orchestral work, inspired by folk music and with soloist tasks for many orchestral musicians.

Benjamin Britten’s new friendship

In the 1950s, after the death of Stalin, the relationship between The Soviet Union and the West softened, and Benjamin Britten’s (1913-1976) music was played for the first time in the Soviet Union. In 1960, the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich traveled to London with Dmitri Shostakovich to play Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1. Britten met them backstage, and they immediately hit it off.

Three years later, Britten visited the cellist in Moscow, and he wrote in total seven pieces for Rostropovich. The most ambitious is the Cello Symphony, premiered in Moscow in 1964, with Britten as the conductor and Rostropovich as the soloist. The music alternates between powerful, melancholic and meditative moods.

What is played

  • Béla Bartók Divertimento
  • Benjamin Britten Cello Symphony
  • Béla Bartók Concerto for Orchestra

Duration

Performers

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Prices

Price groups Price
Adult 185 - 610 NOK
Senior 195 - 490 NOK
Student 185 - 305 NOK
Child 150 NOK

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Klaus Mäkelä
Gautier Capuçon
Benjamin Britten
Béla Bartók

Oslo Concert Hall Buy ticket