The San Antonio Symphony presents TCHAIKOVSKY “PATHÉTIQUE.”

(San Antonio, TX) Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing has paired two of the most emotional works of the Romantic era, creating a program that will tug at your heartstrings, as The San Antonio Symphony presents TCHAIKOVSKY “PATHÉTIQUE.” Both works are the final compositions of the 19th century masters, Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky and Richard Wagner.  Sponsored by the Tobin Endowment, performances run November 18th -20th in the H-E-B Performance Hall at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are on sale now. Purchase online at, via phone (210) 223-8624 and in-person at the Tobin Center’s Box Office (100 Auditorium Circle, 78205).  Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 10a-6p and Saturday, 10a-2p.   Tickets are $15, $25, $41, $56, $70, $81, $85 and $96.

San Antonio Symphony Presents TCHAIKOVSKY “PATHÉTIQUE” 

November 18 & 19, 2016 @ 8:00 p.m.
November 20, 2016 @ 2:00 p.m.
H-E-B Performance Hall at The Tobin Center
Sebastian Lang-Lessingconductor

Wagner                     Symphonic excerpts from Parsifal
Tchaikovsky              Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique”

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, “Pathétique”
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)

Written: 1893

Shortly after he compiled an orchestral suite from his Nutcracker ballet, Tchaikovsky scribbled down the plan for what he hoped would be his next symphony: “The ultimate essence of the plan of the symphony is LIFE. First movement—all impulsive passion, confidence, thirst for activity. Must be short. (Finale DEATH—result of collapse.) Second movement love; third disappointments; fourth ends dying away (also short).” After working on the symphony, Tchaikovsky changed his mind. “My impression of it was most unflattering . . . there is nothing particularly interesting or symphonic in it,” he wrote to his nephew Bob Davidov. “I decided to throw it away and forget about it. This is an irreversible decision, and it is wonderful that I made it.”

Tchaikovsky didn’t really destroy the work on that symphony. He eventually used parts of it for his third piano concerto. He didn’t give up the idea of the symphony either.  After he finished writing the symphony, Tchaikovsky confessed to his nephew, “I consider this symphony the best thing I have ever done. In any case, it is the most deeply felt. And I love it as I have never loved any of my compositions.” Tchaikovsky died nine days after its premiere, a victim of cholera.

Excerpts from “Parsifal”
Richard Wagner (1813–1883)

Written: 1882

Richard Wagner felt he was larger than life: “I am a different kind of organism, I have hypersensitive nerves—I must have beauty, splendor, and light. The world ought to give me what I need! I cannot live the wretched life of a town organist like your Meister Bach!” To some of his contemporaries, he was a god. Ludwig II of Bavaria once wrote to Wagner, “I can only adore you . . . an earthly being cannot requite a divine spirit.” The French composer Gabriel Fauré wrote of his encounter with Wagner: “If one has not heard Wagner at Bayreuth, one has heard nothing! Take lots of handkerchiefs because you will cry a great deal! Also take a sedative because you will be exalted to the point of delirium!” Others felt that he was destroying music. “Wagner has lovely moments by awful quarters of an hour,” Gioacchino Rossini said. “Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a disease? He contaminates everything he touches—he has made music sick. . . . Wagner’s art is diseased,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote. Regardless of what people thought of him, there is no denying that Wagner singlehandedly ushered in “the music of the future.”

Parsifal is Richard Wagner’s last opera. He called it a “sacred festival play.” It is about the Knights of the Holy Grail (the cup that Christ drank from at the Last Supper). They “go about the world doing good through the high powers given them by the Grail.” King Amfortas, the protector of the Grail, was mortally wounded when the evil magician Klingsor stabbed him with the same sword that pierced Christ’s side. A prophecy speaks of his curing at the hands of a “holy fool,”—Parsifal—an innocent youth enlightened by compassion who “can withstand all temptation.”

(program note excerpts: ©2016 John P. Varineau)

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