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Ray Chen with his violin against an orange background

Korngold’s Violin

Fri, Jan 26–Sat, Jan 27, 2024 Roy Thomson Hall

Guest conductor Joana Malwitz leads a program that highlights the conflict and struggle that often encumber the composer. When Erich Korngold emigrated from Austria in the 1930s, he abandoned his classical writing to score music for Hollywood, shelving in particular the sketches for a violin concerto. Longing for legitimacy as a symphonic composer, he returned to it after ten years, applying cinematic flair to create a showpiece of brilliant virtuosity, which violinist Ray Chen expertly channels in his TSO début. Sergei Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace also lagged for many years, as he struggled with constraining Tolstoy’s epic work and juggled Soviet bureaucracy in defining the patriotic context. The resulting overture of the work captures the drama and turmoil of war through walls of brass and soaring strings. Then, a mystery–Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 was abandoned by the composer, left famously unfinished at the time of his passing. Its first two movements offer a hauntingly beautiful exploration of melody and harmony. Finally, Ravel’s nod to the Viennese waltz is a post-war commentary on the struggles in European society through the distortion of a traditional dance form.



Overture to War and Peace


Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished”



Violin Concerto


La valse

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Joana Mallwitz


Ray Chen

Korngold’s Violin is Part of

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Saturday 1



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