An American of Norwegian and Japanese descent, Joseph Swensen was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and grew up in Harlem, New York City. He currently holds the post of Conductor Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, where he was Principal Conductor from 1996-2005. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, in Spain, and Artistic Partner of the Northwest Sinfonietta, in the United States. He has served as Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris from 2009-2012 and has held positions at the Malmö Opera (2008-2011), Lahti Symphony, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Swensen is the Starling Professor of Music, violin, at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music. He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Andrew’s University, Scotland, and was invited to give a TEDx Talk with the title “Habitats for Music and the Sound of Math,” about music education and the developing brain, at the New York Institute of Technology. Joseph and Victoria Swensen are the founders of Habitat4Music, a non-profit organisation devoted to establishing participatory music education programs for children in underserved areas world-wide.
Roman Rabinovich was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 1985. He and his parents later immigrated to Israel where he studied with Irena Vishnevitsky and Arieh Vardi at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. He is currently studying at The Curtis Institute of Music with Seymour Lipkin. Rabinovich received a merit-based full-tuition scholarship and the Ralph Berkowitz Fellowship as well as financial support from Tzfunot Tarbut and scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. He made his Israel Philharmonic Orchestra debut at the age of 10 under Zubin Mehta, and performed with Maestro Mehta again in 1999 and 2003. Rabinovich was a top prizewinner at the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, in 2008.
Joseph Haydn composed Symphony No. 82, known affectionately as The Bear Symphony as the first in a set of six commissioned by the Concert de la Loge Olympique in 1785 and 1786. These works were intended for concerts organized by the Count for the Lodge of the Paris Freemasons and all were huge successes with the French. In Paris, the society of Masonic musicians had an orchestra of sixty-five players, constituting an ensemble larger than Haydn had ever composed for, thus allowing the inclusion of trumpets and drums in the opening of the piece, which added an extra ceremonial brilliance and a touch of novelty. The second movement of the work is a set of variations, followed by the minuet, a dance popular in the eighteenth century, and the finale, which gives the symphony its nickname for containing a droning bass line and country carnival atmosphere which apparently suggested to its Paris audience the image of dancing bears. The set was also sold to publishers in London and Vienna but enjoyed greater success abroad due to declining interest at home, deeming the set Haydn’s Paris Symphonies.
Ludwig van Beethoven composed his Fourth Symphony in 1806 and led the first private performance at the Lobkowitz Palace in March 1807, in Vienna. The public premiere took place on April 13, 1808, in Vienna’s Burgtheater. Regrettably, the Fourth Symphony is frequently overshadowed by the more dynamic Third and Fifth symphonies. Following the celebrated Eroica and written during the sketches of the beloved Fifth Symphony, it was also surrounded by great works like the Appassionata Sonata, the three Razumovsky Quartets, the opera Fidelio, the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Violin Concerto Op. 61. Upon Beethoven’s death, Robert Schumann declared it “a slender Grecian maiden between two Nordic giants,” and one critic stated of Beethoven, after its premiere "That the composer follows an individual path in his works can be seen again in this work; just how far this path is the correct one, and not a deviation, may be decided by others. To me the great master seems here, as in several of his recent works, now and then excessively bizarre, and thus, even for knowledgeable friends of art, easily incomprehensible and forbidding."
The feature some such critics might have proclaimed ‘bizarre’ is the dissonance built in the introduction preceding the Allegro vivace, which is rich with melodies. The Adagio of the work is an expressive rondo in E-flat major and the third movement combines elements of Scherzo and Minuet with the trio section repeated. Here Beethoven created a five-part structure instead of the standard three-part form. The Symphony then concludes with perpetual motion in the Allegro with nods the work of Haydn. Even as late as the end of the nineteenth century, George Grove, of the renowned Dictionary of Music and Musicians, stated that this symphony “is a complete contrast to both its predecessor and successor, and is as gay and spontaneous as they are serious and lofty.”
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator