Symphonic Poetry and Spirituality in the Silver Age


Leon Botstein conductor
Mané Galoyan soprano
Maya Lahyani mezzo-soprano
Viktor Antipenko tenor
Ethan Vincent baritone
Bard Festival Chorale
James Bagwell choral director

Presented by the Bard Music Festival

4 PM Pre-Concert Talk
5 PM Performance

The decades before the Revolution saw a cultural flourishing in Russia, notable for its spiritual and intellectual currents in poetry, painting and music.

Program 12 revisits this fruitful period with grand-scale choral symphonies by two of its leading lights: former classmates Scriabin and Rachmaninoff. A visionary mystic who died at just 43, Scriabin believed in the transformative power of art, as expressed in his original text for his Wagnerian, six-movement First Symphony.

By contrast, Rachmaninoff was notoriously satirized by Stravinsky as “six foot two inches of Russian gloom,” and The Bells offers a more apocalyptic vision. However, the work— Rachmaninoff’s favorite of his own compositions—concludes in the major mode, its warm string melody suggesting serenity and hope.


Aleksandr Scriabin Symphony No. 1 in E Major, Op. 26
Rachmaninoff The Bells, Op. 35

The Bard Music Festival

The Bard Music Festival returns for its 32nd season with an exploration of the life and work of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943), perhaps the last great exponent of Russian Romanticism, who nevertheless embodied many contradictions. Through a series of themed concert programs, lectures, and panel discussions, Rachmaninoff and His World explores such themes as composition during the Cold War, virtuoso pianists and their public, and America’s ongoing love affair with Rachmaninoff’s music.

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