Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra




Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
founded in 1895, gave its first concert the following year under the direction of Frederic Archer. Victor Herbert was the chief conductor from 1898 to 1904; he was succeeded by Emil Paur (1904–10). The orchestra was then disbanded. It was revived in 1926, and over the next decade it was led by Elias Breeskin (1927–30) and Antonio Modarelli (1930–37). The orchestra was reorganized by Otto Klemperer in 1937. Fritz Reiner was chief conductor from 1938 to 1948, followed by William Steinberg (1952–76), André Previn (1976–84), Lorin Maazel (1984–95), and Mariss Jansons (1995–). Since 1971 the orchestra has performed in Heinz Hall, the renovated Loew’s Penn Theater (built 1927).

To truly understand Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra we have to understand what symphony is. Symphony is an extended work for orchestra, usually in three or four movements. It is traditionally regarded as the central form of orchestral composition. In the 17th century the term was used in other senses: for concerted motets, for introductory movements to operas for instrumental introductions and sections within arias and ensembles, and for ensemble pieces, which might be classified as sonatas or concertos.
The roots of the symphony are found in the earlier Baroque period, when composers enjoyed creating pieces for small groups of instruments, sometimes featuring a solo instrument. These concertos, such as those by Vivaldi, Bach, and Corelli, were one source from which the symphony evolved. Another was the Italian opera.
In particular, the symphony developed from the Italian operatic overture, or "sinfonia," which by about 1700 had become the expected musical beginning of an opera. The sinfonia was a purely instrumental composition made of three sections, a fast section at the beginning and the end, and a slow section in the middle.
Alessandro Scarlatti (1659-1725) was particularly influential in establishing the sinfonia\'s form. Usually the sinfonias had no particular musical connection to the opera they preceded, and sometimes they were performed separately in concerts.
With Italian opera composers such as Leo, Pergolesi, Galuppi and Jommelli, the movements became longer and more developed. G.B. Sammartini was among the first Italians to write concert symphonies; composers of the next generation, including Boccherini and Pugnani, inherited his essentially lyrical approach, but Italian composers were not generally interested in the richer, more developed style favored in Austria and Germany.
Many composers of the new symphony were active in London, Paris, north Germany and elsewhere, but the main centres were Vienna and Mannheim. About 1735 the Viennese symphony, drawing on the opera overture and chamber music, began to establish an independent course, notably in the works of Monn and Wagenseil. They and their younger contemporaries, Gassmann and Ordonez, continued to prefer three-movement form, but with four prolific, gifted composers - Hofmann, Dittersdorf, Vanhal and Michael Haydn - the four-movement symphony, with minuet and trio preceding the finale, became the norm. Their works represent the highest achievements in the Viennese Classical symphony apart from Jozeph Haydn and Mozart. At Mannheim, where the electoral court assembled a concentration of talent, the virtuosity and discipline of the court orchestra led to new developments in orchestral style, particularly ones involving the striking use of dynamics and the stylized use of melodic figures. J.W.A. Stamitz provided the model and the motivation; his \'army of generals\' included such names as F.X. Richter, Holzbauer, Antonín Fils and, among the next generation, Toeschi, Cannabich, Eichner, Beck and Stamitz\'s son Carl.
Whatever the view of his contemporaries, the early 19th-century symphony is now typified by Beethoven. While his first two symphonies shared a development from Haydn\'s, no.3 was a departure: its four movements were on an unprecedented large scale, and its dedication to Napoleon (later erased) proclaimed that its grandeur and power celebrated personal courage and the unconquerable human spirit. The later symphonies work out in fresh terms the same type of struggle, and all end in triumph, for example in the brilliant C Major finale of no.5 in c Minor. No.9, the Choral Symphony, is a solitary masterpiece, bringing together two projects that had long been in the composer\'s mind, a gigantic symphony in d Minor and a choral setting of Schiller\'s Ode to Joy. Beethoven\'s achievements were such that the merits of Schubert\'s more lyrical ones were long overlooked, even those of the expansive