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#MoreMusic from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Thank you for your support and interest in our Journeys of Discovery series of concerts at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall.

Fancy an encore? As part of our #MoreMusic series, we go beyond the concert's repertoire, discover other pieces by the composers' contemporaries and the music that inspired the repertoire.


After Jennifer Higdon's poignant blue cathedral, Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No.2 with Arabella Steinbacher and Berlioz' tomrented dreamscape in Symphonie Fantastique, we recommend...

We recommend...

Shostakovich’s Seventh (1941) and Ninth (1945) Symphonies, which together with the Eighth Symphony form his ‘war’ trilogy.

Vaughan Williams’ cantata for chorus and orchestra, Dona Nobis Pacem (1936), with its plea for peace and for reconciliation beyond the battlefield.

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.2 in G major (1880), which he dedicated to Rubinstein ‘in recognition of his magnificent playing of my First Concerto and of my Sonata which left me in utter rapture after he performed it for me in Moscow.’ Sadly Rubinstein died before its premiere.

Previously in the series...


After Jennifer Higdon's pognant blue cathedral, Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No.2 with Arabella Steinbacher and Berlioz' tomrented dreamscape in Symphonie Fantastique, we recommend...

We recommend...

Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.1, which received its long-awaited premiere in Paris in 1923 – six years after the work’s completion. Serge Koussevitsky conducted the orchestra of the Paris Opera, and among the audience were luminaries including Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and the prima ballerina Anna Pavlova.

Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, which was written for and premiered by Hilary Hahn and earned the composer a Pulitzer Prize in 2010.

Berlioz’s Harold en Italie, his next grand programmatic symphony, which was composed four years after the Symphonie fantastique and was the result of a commission from the great Italian composer and violinist Niccolò Paganini.


After the concert on Sunday 23 April at Southbank Centre, why not continue your own musical journey by exploring more works that are closely linked to the programme?

We recommend...

Schumann’s Manfred: Overture, which also takes Byron’s semi-autobiographical tale of love and death as its inspiration – a work that Brahms later referred to as Schumann’s ‘First Symphony’.

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, which were composed either side of his Manfred Symphony.

DukasSymphony in C major, his first major work, which premiered the year before The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.


With the grand finale of our Mahler series at the Royal Albert Hall on 27 April with the gargantuan Third Symphony, delve further into 

We recommend...

Britten’s arrangement for chamber orchestra of the second movement of Mahler’s Third Symphony, What the Wild Flowers Tell Me, completed in 1941.

Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, with its finale originally destined for the Third Symphony, Das himmlische Leben.

Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem Also sprach Zarathustra, which also draws on Nietzsche’s novel and was composed, like Mahler’s Third Symphony, in 1896.


After Mahler's life-affirming Symphony No.2, 'Resurrection', why not continue your own musical journey with these works that were instrumental to the creation of the symphony.

Included in this playlist:

Beethoven’s Symphony No.9, ‘Choral’, the original ‘choral symphony’ which broke new ground and inspired others to include voices.

Mahler’s Symphony No.1, ‘Titan’, whose protagonist is ‘buried’ in the opening movement of the Second Symphony.

Todtenfeier, Mahler’s symphonic poem which went on to become the opening movement of the Second Symphony.

Liszt’s Totentanz (1849) for piano and orchestra, for a very different rendering of the Dies irae plainchant.


On Wednesday 22 March the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed Mahler's expanded arrangement of Beethoven's Symphony No.9, a triumphant realisation of the ideals of creative freedom, common brotherhood and universal liberation, alongside Mahler's song cycle Das knaben Wunderhorn.

Included in this playlist:

Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrendes Gesellen, his first song cycle setting poems from Das knaben Wunderhorn.

Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which represents the culmination of his obsession with Das knaben Wunderhorn. Its finale is based upon an extensive orchestration of one song in particular: ‘Der Himmel hangt voll Geigen’ (‘Heaven is hung with violins’), retitled by Mahler as ‘Das himmlische Leben’ (‘Heavenly life’).

Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No.3 which, quite unlike the Fidelio overture, take themes from the opera itself and uses them to create a chronological précis of the opera’s main dramatic action.

Brahms’s First Symphony, which is often disparagingly referred to as ‘Beethoven’s Tenth’, thanks to the similarities between the opening themes of their finales (‘any ass could see that’, Brahms once said).


On Wednesday 8 February the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko perform Scriabin's The Poem of Ecstasy, a philosophical expression of the human spirit achieving liberation, total creative freedom and unity with the universe, typical of his 'mystical' period. 

Included in this playlist:

Scriabin’s tone poem Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, which was completed two years after The Poem of Ecstasy, and has similarly otherworldly objectives. It also contains the first iteration of Scriabin’s ‘mystic chord’, which Scriabin would use as a basis for later pieces with the notes reordered in different sets.

Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, a grand musical representation of Shakespeare’s tragedy which also inspired Wagner in the composition of Tristan und Isolde (the two composers last met at a performance of Berlioz’s work in 1855).

Wagner’s five Wesendonck Lieder, based on poems by Mathilde Wesendonck and composed while he was working on Tristan und Isolde and said by Wagner to have been ‘studies’ for the opera.


Arthur Schopenhauer’s seminal work, The World of Will as Representation, which inspired and underpinned Wagner’s philosophical ambitions in composing Tristan und Isolde. Read via Project Gutenberg.

Wagner’s extended essay Opera and Drama, in which he sets out his political, philosophical and artistic ideas for the future of opera. Read via Monoskop.



The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko performed Mahler's Symphony No. 8,‘Symphony of a Thousand’ at this concert on 23 October 2022, a rare treat for Mahler-lovers and anyone who likes their symphonies on the grandest scale.

Included in this playlist:

Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, his intimate ‘song symphony’, composed three years after the Eighth and not premiered until after his death.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the ‘original’ choral symphony.

Sibelius’ only choral symphony, Kullervo, based on an ancient, epic Finnish saga and conceived on a similarly grand scale.


Berlioz’s ‘dramatic symphony’ Roméo et Juliette, which is thought to have inspired Wagner – who was in the audience for the premiere – in writing his Faust Overture.

Strauss’ Symphonia Domestica, a symphonic poem glorifying and celebrating the day-to-day trivialities of his home life – surely the height of post-enlightenment self-indulgence.

Programme notes and listening recommendations by Jo Kirkbride, 2022

#MoreMusic from our 2021-22 Great British Music series with Vasily Petrenko

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