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ASO & Anton Nel to Record January Concerts

December 20, 2013
  • Who: Anton Nel with the Austin Symphony Orchestra
  • When: January 10 & 11, 2014 - 8:00 p.m.
  • Where: Dell Hall, Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Riverside Dr.
  • Cost: $19-$56

Maestro Peter Bay and the ASO invite concertgoers for “Your Night Out” as they continue the 103rd season of classical concerts with performances of works by Edvard Grieg and Edward Burlingame Hill. World-renowned pianist Anton Nel returns to the Austin Symphony stage for performances on Friday and Saturday, January 10th & 11th in Dell Hall at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. These concerts are proudly sponsored by Texas Mutual Insurance.

Grieg – Peer Gynt: Prelude to Act 1, Op. 23
Hill – Concertino No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 44 (1938-9) (World Premiere)
Grieg – Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46
Hill – Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra (1926)
Grieg – Peer Gynt Suite No. 2, Op. 55
Hill – Concertino No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 36 (1931)

Maestro Peter Bay peppers the evening with music by Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg. Grieg is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His use and development of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions put the music of Norway in the international spectrum, as well as helping develop a national identity, much like Jean Sibelius and Antonín Dvořák in Finland and Bohemia respectively.

For these performances, Maestro Bay explores Grieg’s incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s play, Peer Gynt. Ibsen, himself, requested Grieg to compose the music for the play’s premiere in 1876. One of the most recognizable and famous pieces of the Peer Gynt music is “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” In this piece of music, Peer steals the bride at a wedding. The angry guests chase him, and Peer falls, hitting his head on a rock. He wakes up in a mountain surrounded by trolls. The music represents the angry trolls taunting Peer and gets louder each time the theme repeats. The music ends with Peer escaping from the mountain.

Although “In the Hall…” is a popular movement in the Peer Gynt suite Grieg was not pleased with it. In a 1874 letter to his friend Frants Beyer, Grieg expressed his unhappiness with “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” one of his compositions from Peer Gynt, writing “I have also written something for the scene in the hall of the mountain King – something that I literally can’t bear listening to because it absolutely reeks of cow-pies, exaggerated Norwegian nationalism, and trollish self-satisfaction! But I have a hunch that the irony will be discernible.”

Interspersed within the Grieg pieces Austin-based pianist Anton Nel, Maestro Bay and the ASO will perform works by American composer Edward Burlingame Hill, including the Concertino No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 36 from 1931, the Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra from 1926 and the world premiere of his 1939 Concertino No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 44.

Hill was a teacher of Leonard Bernstein and although written in 1938-39, this Concertino was never played before his death in 1960 and only survives in manuscript form, with no orchestral parts written out. Although his music was always met with critical success, that was the time of the rise of more “American” sounding composer such as Copland, Harris and Schuman, and Hill’s music quickly became “old hat.” Plus, composition was not a “proper” pursuit for a “Harvard Man.” Hill’s superiors saw no benefit to his composing. He continued writing into his retirement years and, as with the Concertino No. 2, he often didn’t make out the orchestral parts needed for performance. Composition was his outlet for his inner need for self-expression; performance would be the “icing on the cake.” And in his later years, he rarely got the icing.

These performances of the Hill compositions will be recorded for a future CD release by the ASO that will also include his Symphony No. 4 that was recorded by the ASO in June 2013. The ASO is hoping to have a compact disc of the Hill works completed by Fall of 2014.

Tickets for Anton Nel with the Austin Symphony range from $19 to $56. Student rush tickets are also available 20 minutes prior to performance for $5 cash and current student ID (subject to availability). Charge tickets online at where you will find seating maps, price options and a wealth of concert information. Tickets are also available at the Austin Symphony Box Office, 11th and Red River or call 476-6064 or 1-888-4-MAESTRO (toll-free).