IF YOU GO
What: Omaha Symphony MasterWorks Series: Beethoven’s Pastorale
When: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Where: Holland Performing Arts Center, 13th and Douglas Streets
Tickets: $27 to $80
Information: omahasymphony.org or 402-342-3560
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The popular image of Beethoven casts him as the classic brooding genius: a child prodigy struck deaf as an adult; wild-haired and scribbling madly; capable of giving the world his musical masterpieces yet left to weep at the silent applause of his audiences; patron saint to tormented Linus.
But there was another side of Beethoven: nature lover.
Awakening to the sounds of chirping birds, taking in the scene of a bubbling brook, gathering with good ol' country folk, anticipating a coming storm — Ludwig loved this stuff (even if he couldn't hear it). In fact, he specifically named the movements of his delightful sixth symphony for these exact experiences.
This weekend, Omaha Symphony Music Director Thomas Wilkins leads orchestra and audience on a hike through Beethoven's “Pastorale” symphony, as it's known.
It's worth noting that Beethoven wrote the piece concurrently with his famous fifth symphony. Together, they're an interesting contrast. The fifth opens with the overpowering drama of those four instantly recognizable notes (“dun dun dun dunnnnn”). The sixth begins more like a breeze.
But don't expect total tranquility.
This weekend's concert opens with Berlioz's “Roman Carnival” overture, then takes a turn for the 20th century with composer Friedrich Gulda's “Cello Concerto,” featuring renowned 29-year-old cellist and guest artist Joshua Roman. The eclectic piece, which includes elements of jazz, rock and even a little polka, is no walk in the park.