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October 2017 Concert

2:30 pm
Sunday, October 22, 2017


Our 72nd season of diverse music from many lands opens with Robert Schumann’s overture for a staged version of Byron’s romantic epic detailing the turbulent life of his anti-hero Manfred, and closes with Beethoven’s masterpiece of rhythm, his Seventh Symphony. Rising star William Hagen makes his ESO debut in a cornerstone of the repertoire, the Violin Concerto by Finland’s most famous composer, Jan Sibelius.


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Musical Insights Free Pre-Concert Preview the Friday before this concert.
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  • Schumann
  • Manfred Overture
  • Sibelius
  • Violin Concerto in D Minor

    William Hagen, violin

  • Beethoven
  • Symphony No. 7 in A Major

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston
See map.


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All tickets are assigned seating.

At this time, masks, vaccinations and testing are no longer required to attend ESO concerts or events. As always, we ask that if you are sick, please stay home to prevent the spread of illness. (read more detail).

Advance Sales

$35 Adult, $30 Seniors, $5.00 Full-Time Student

At the Door Sales

$39 Adult, $35 Seniors, $5.00 Full-Time Student

Children Free

Children 12 and younger are admitted absolutely FREE, but must have an assigned seat.
Please call 847.864.8804 or email for all orders with children’s tickets.

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Musical Insights

Free Pre-Concert Preview Series!

October 20, Friday, at 1:30 pm

Enhance your concert experience with a sneak preview — Composers come alive and their passions take center stage when ESO Maestro Lawrence Eckerling takes you on an insider’s tour of the history and highlights behind the music.

Maestro Lawrence Eckerling will explore the concert program in depth.


The Merion
Friday, October 20 at 1:30 pm,
Merion's Emerald Lounge at
529 Davis St, Evanston.
FREE and open to the public.
Please RSVP to 847-570-7815.

Light refreshments will be served and casual tours of apartments will be available after the program.


The Evanston Symphony Orchestra is proud to provide videos to educate you about the pieces we perform and, at times, the soloists who will be performing. The video(s) below are examples only and do not represent performances by the Evanston Symphony Orchestra unless noted.

Symphony No 7

Symphony No 7, fourth movement with Carlos Kleiber and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Manfred Overture

With Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Program Notes

MANFRED OVERTURE, OP 115                                                                                                                 

13 minutes        (1848)                                                                           Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

EPIC OVERTURE. Robert Schumann’s tragically short life was filled with the drama and romance suitable for a Hollywood film; hence the 1947 movie Song of Love starring Paul Henreid as Schumann, Robert Walker as Johannes Brahms, and Katherine Hepburn as Clara Schumann nee Wieck. Indeed Hepburn plays the piano in the performance of the Schumann Concerto at the end of the film. Other salient aspects of Schumann’s life beyond his love for Clara include manic composition in a single form, such as solo piano in 1835-9, songs in 1840, orchestral music in 1841 and chamber music in 1842, the first recognition of the genius of Chopin and Brahms in his journalistic reviews, attempted suicide by jumping into the Rhine River in 1854, and death in an insane asylum two years thereafter.

Schumann’s love of reading and frequent sleepless nights often led him to the pages of Lord Byron’s works. He set texts of Byron to music as part of the song cycle Myrthen in 1840, and turned his attention back to the author in 1848 when he composed incidental music for a staged production of the dramatic poem Manfred. Consumed with guilt over an unnamed offense tied to the death of his lover, the protagonist wanders the Alps seeking forgetfulness and oblivion, and appeals to six spirits to aid him in his desire for the peace of death. It has been suggested that the forbidden relationship was an incestuous one, and that the poem is somewhat autobiographical; Byron wrote it shortly after accusations of an affair with his half-sister, among other sexual transgressions, led to the dissolution of his marriage.

The Overture reflects the brooding tone of the poem with unsettling music in the rare and dark key of E Flat Minor that builds in passion and urgency, and is punctuated toward the end by faint, ominous trumpet calls. From the dramatic opening chords through the dark, eerie mood of the introduction and the coda, the Manfred Overture is a masterfully written musical drama which remains one of the composer’s most popular works. The remainder of the incidental music (15 numbers in all) is rarely performed, although it has been recorded.

(Thanks to Sara Swain of the ESO cello section for much of the above note).


VIOLIN CONCERTO IN D MINOR, OP 47                                                                                                                        

 31 minutes      (1905)                                                                                       Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

NORDIC VIRTUOSITY. Jean Sibelius, one of Finland’s greatest heroes, in his early years wanted to have a career as a violin virtuoso. Unfortunately for his dreams, he was not able to attain the highest level of playing, but fortunately for music he had to become a composer. He never forgot his youthful desires as all of his works for solo instrument and orchestra are for the violin. All of them are brief except for the Violin Concerto in D Minor, which the great music writer Donald Francis Tovey ranked with, and actually above, the very popular violin concertos of Mendelssohn and Max Bruch.

I. Allegro moderato. The first theme is announced almost immediately by the soloist, and is then restated by the orchestra. The second theme is impassioned, rather in the style of Tchaikovsky. After its exposition, the solo cadenza begins the development and in fact the massive cadenza takes the place of the normal development section. The recapitulation of the main theme is played by solo bassoon, and the coda is quick and fiery.

II. Adagio di molto. The slow movement has the nature of a yearning song, with two principal themes.

III. Allegro, ma non tanto.  The instantly memorable opening theme of the intense finale inspired the frequently cited description by Donald Tovey: “…evidently a polonaise for polar bears.” The structure is that of a rondo, alternating three themes and building to an exciting D Major climax.


SYMPHONY NO 7 IN A MAJOR, OP 92                                                                                                                

36 minutes    (1812)                                                                        Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

THE APOTHEOSIS OF RHYTHM. The nine symphonies of Beethoven are among the monuments of Western music, and since Beethoven’s death music historians and writers seemingly have been compelled to create groupings within the nine. The Seventh Symphony is somewhat unique in that it achieves its large scale without any programs or narratives and without any instruments in excess of the standard classical period orchestra of pairs of woodwinds, horns and trumpets plus timpani (this performance will use four horns to “double” this very important part). Beethoven achieves his success primarily through incessant forward motion and rhythm, which led to Richard Wagner’s appellation of “The Apotheosis of the Dance.”                                                         

I. Poco sostenuto- Vivace. The symphony opens with a four movement slow introduction, the longest in any Beethoven symphony, before bursting forth in an exhilarating A Major theme led by the horns and the timpani. The second theme is scarcely discernible as such as it continues the forward sweep of the movement. There is a standard repeat of the exposition, which will be observed in this performance.

II. Allegretto. This A Minor allegretto (a tempo slower than allegro) takes the place of a slow movement, and was encored at the first performance of the symphony due to its instant popularity. It has the character of a procession, with a series of variations on the opening rhythm. The movement served as a model for, among others, the second movements of Schubert’s “Great” C Major Symphony, Berlioz’ Harold in Italy, and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony.

III. Presto. The scherzo is very fast and with multiple repeats, and it expands the structure to include the “Trio” twice, so the large scale structure of the movement is ABABA, rather than the normal ABA.

IV. Allegro con brio. The whirlwind of energy rarely relaxes in this frenzied finale. Beethoven, for the first time in a symphony, uses the dynamic marking of fff, rather than his normal maximum of ff. He calls for this fff twice, very close to the breathless end.