Artists

Soloist

7 - 9 Apr '21

Tour V
7 - 9 Apr '21

Valentine Michaud

Tour

Concert dates and locations

Artists

Programme

The program of this concert will be completed by the work chosen by Valentine Michaud together with the European Union Youth Orchestra and its conductor David Zinman.

A graceful and carefree work bearing the bucolic imprint of the Bohemian countryside where it was composed: no more was needed to make Dvořák's Eighth Symphony one of his most popular compositions. It was written within a few weeks during autumn 1889, four years after the composer's previous Symphony No. 7 in D minor. "I want to compose something different from other symphonies, with individual thoughts worked out in a new way," promised Dvořák as he set to work in his country home at Vysoká. This symphony ended the personal crisis that had been overwhelming the composer for the past four years. He was now able to let "the melodies simply pour out" throughout this score in which he integrated Czech folk-idioms.
Dvořák himself conducted the symphony's premiere in Prague on 2 February 1890, and then again in London and Frankfurt. He also presented the symphony in Cambridge when he was awarded a doctorate Honoris Causa by the famous British university. "It is a splendid work!" said conductor Hans Richter after first hearing the piece in Vienna, whereas Brahms pointed out that "everything is beautiful and musically captivating". Simrock, Dvořák's publisher in Berlin, would have prefered small salon pieces, cheaper to publish, than a new large-scale work. The composer considered Simrock's offer for his 8th Symphony to be an insult and sold the rights to the London firm of Novello instead. This is why the G-major Symphony is sometimes referred to as Dvořák's "English Symphony", although its character is genuinely bohemian. Beyond the joyful and pastoral tone, the G-major Symphony also reveals a darker side, starting with the cantilena that opens the first movement in a minor key. This motive reappears throughout the movement, along with numerous other melodic ideas. "You've scarcely got to know one figure before a second one beckons with a friendly nod, so you're in a state of constant but pleasurable excitement," once said Leoš Janáček, another leading Czech composer. The symphony continues with an Andante that also alternates between major and minor keys and a swirling waltz (Allegretto grazioso) that takes on a Ländler style. The bubbling Finale incorporates two sets of variations.

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Good to know

At the beginning of 2020, Valentine Michaud was chosen as the winner of the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award. A magnificent reward for this gifted and inventive French saxophonist, whose repertoire encompasses a wide range of styles, including contemporary works, baroque and classical transcriptions, and improvisation. Valentine Michaud is keen to promote her instrument's largely unknown repertoire and to bring her instrument to a wider audience. The young artist has been settled for the last 10 years in Switzerland, where she pursued her musical studies at the Haute école de musique de Lausanne and the Zurich University of Arts. Valentine Michaud has won numerous prizes at international competitions and has been supported by prestigious Swiss grants such as the Leenards Foundation and Migros Culture Percentage. She performs regularly as a soloist, in chamber music groups and in orchestras on some of the most prestigious stages in the world. She also passes on her passion to young musicians at the Geneva Conservatoire Populaire de Musique and the saxophone camp Sax Up, which she founded in 2015.

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