Maestro Blomstedt returns to Chicago to conduct Brahms and Mozart

  • This concert program will take place at 8 p.m. on Thur., March 5, at 1:30 p.m. on Fri., March 6, and at 8 p.m. on Sat., March 7 at Symphony Center located at 220 S. Michigan Ave in Chicago.Courtesy of M. Lengemann

    This concert program will take place at 8 p.m. on Thur., March 5, at 1:30 p.m. on Fri., March 6, and at 8 p.m. on Sat., March 7 at Symphony Center located at 220 S. Michigan Ave in Chicago.Courtesy of M. Lengemann

Updated 3/3/2020 11:10 AM

If you were born to be a conductor, you will stay with your profession forever. It doesn't matter what country you live in, where your fate eventually brings you, or how many years you have to devote to this challenging, yet rewarding profession. The love for music that literally runs through your veins will decide your destiny. The destiny of acclaimed American-born Swedish conductor, Herbert Blomstedt, is to demonstrate to people from all over the globe the beauty, the elegance and the eternal wisdom of classical music.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra is happy to welcome Maestro Blomstedt back to Chicago to lead the orchestra in a concert program featuring Brahms's Symphony No. 2 and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 with Bertrand Chamayou, the 2019 Gramophone Award-winning pianist, celebrating his CSO debut. The concert program will be presented at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6, and at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 at Symphony Center located at 220 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.


The enthusiasm, energy and charisma of this 92-year old distinguished conductor make him a great example for musicians from all over the world. A person, who doesn't use his age as an excuse but as a source of knowledge, wisdom and a great experience, stays young forever. Maestro Blomstedt finds strength in classical music as it has a healing power and brings peace and harmony to a human soul. The ability to relate to each musical composition that he conducts and to understand the composers' intentions are the most important features of Maestro Blomstedt, and during these beautiful March subscription concerts the audiences will be able to appreciate his mastery and talent.

This concert program will start with the gorgeous and elegant Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488 written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an influential Austrian composer of the Classical period. "The fact that most people do not understand and respect the very best things, such as Mozart's concertos, is what permits men like us to become famous," humbly said famous German composer Johannes Brahms. Although Brahms was a genius himself, this time he was wrong: up to our days, the music created by Mozart is popular all over the world, and his piano concertos are deeply loved and appreciated.

This concerto was composed in 1786 among three piano concertos written for a series of concerts where Mozart himself performed as soloist. This composition is light and enthusiastic in the beginning. Then the composer uses flute, clarinets and horns to lend a darker musical timbre, before it concludes with a characteristically cheerful finale. Piano Concerto No. 23 is one of Mozart's most widely performed piano concertos, and the award-winning pianist Bertrand Chamayou will use all his mastery and talent to demonstrate the concerto's virtuosity, elegance, delicacy and drama.

Being a soloist performing a piano concerto along with a symphony orchestra is a difficult job -- you have to present the piano part brilliantly, immerse in it, and still hear each instrument of the orchestra and create a wonderful ensemble with it while properly delivering the main idea of the piece. Doesn't sound easy, right?

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Yes, but nothing is impossible for Chamayou who is a regular performer in venues such as the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Lincoln Center, the Herkulessaal Munich and London's Wigmore Hall. Chamayou has appeared at major festivals including New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, the Lucerne Festival, Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival and Beethovenfest Bonn. He is a regular chamber music performer who partners with the best musicians in the world.

The talent of this world-renowned pianist has recently been recognized with an ECHO Klassik award for his recording of Ravel's complete works for piano, as well as the 2019 Gramophone Awards for Best Concerto and overall Recording of the Year for his album featuring the Second and Fifth Piano Concertos of Saint-Saëns with the Orchestre national de France and Emmanuel Krivine. His presentation of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 along the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will become another gem in the colorful palette of his successful and bright career.

This wonderful composition will be followed by Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 written by German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period Johannes Brahms. Being considered both a traditionalist and an innovator, Brahms combined in his music an academic and highly constructed nature with deeply romantic motifs.

Brahms composed for symphony orchestra, chamber ensemble, piano, organ, voice and chorus, but where did he take his musical ideas from? "Straight-away the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind's eye, but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration," said Brahms once. And it's true -- the composer created masterpieces that have been influencing musicians all over the world for more than a hundred years.


He used every opportunity to compose music. His Symphony No. 2 was written during the composer's summer visit to the Austrian resort town of Pörtschach am Wörthersee where he was living on the shores of a beautiful Austrian lake. This symphony retains a pastoral quality throughout and is full of radiant and lyrical themes and joyful exuberance. The premiere of it took place in 1877 in Vienna and was greeted with great enthusiasm.

After leading a 2018 CSO performance of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, Maestro Blomstedt is ready to impress the Chicago audiences with a superb presentation of Brahms' radiant Second Symphony. What will make it so memorable? The Maestro's deep and kind soul and his 66 year-long brilliant conducting career. Everything that happened during his wonderful career will contribute to this success: his brilliant conducting debut in 1954, devoted service as Chief Conductor, Music Director, and Conductor Laureate for numerous orchestras around the world, several Honorary Doctorates, the role of an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy, and holding the honorable German Federal Cross of Merit.

"In my study I can lay my hand on the Bible in the pitch dark. All truly inspired ideas come from God. The powers from which all truly great composers like Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Beethoven drew their inspirations is the same power that enabled Jesus to do his miracles," said Brahms. The same power enables Maestro Blomstedt to conduct an orchestra in such a way that makes it a truly heavenly experience that stays in the human heart forever.

Tickets for all CSOA-presented concerts can be purchased by phone at 800-223-7114 or 312-294-3000, online at or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604. The price ranges from $32 to $222.

Discounted student tickets for select concerts can be purchased, subject to availability, online in advance or at the box office on the day of the concert. For group rates, please call 312-294-3040. CSO tickets for select program are also available through the city's new Teen Arts Pass (TAP) program. For more information, please go to

Natalia Dagenhart


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