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The French conductor Louis Langrée has been Music Director of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra since 2013.

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Christian Colberg began his musical studies at the age of five in his native Puerto Rico. Known for his versatility, Colberg excels as a violinist and violist, and has garnered accolades as a composer and a conductor.

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Ilya Finkelshteyn, principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony, has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and principal cellist of the Baltimore and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras.

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The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles.


Originally broadcast on February 10, 2019 on 90.9 WGUC in Cincinnati, OH

SAT OCT 20, 8 pm • SUN OCT 21, 2 pm 


TELEMANN (1681-1767)

Don Quichotte (Ouverture burlesque de Quichotte), TWV 55:G10

Le Reveille de Quichotte (“The Awakening of Don Quixote”)
Son Attaque des Moulins à Vent (“His Attack on the Windmills”)
Ses Soupirs amoureux après la Princesse Dulcinée
(“Sighs of Love for Princess Dulcinea”)
Sanche Panche berné (“Sancho Panza Swindled”)
Le Galope de Roscinante (“Rosinante Galloping”)
Celui d’Ane de Sanche (“Sancho Panza’s Mule”)
Le Couché de Quixotte (Don Quixote at Rest”)


Viola Concerto, “Don Quixote” 



R. STRAUSS (1864-1949) 

Don Quixote, Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character, Op. 35

GREAT LITERATURE and enduring characters not only transcend time, but also inspire art. In the early 1600’s readers were first introduced to Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and the never-seen Dulcinea del Toboso in two novels by Miguel de Cervantes. These novels captured the imagination, found a worldwide audience and continue to inspire composers four centuries later. This program explores Don Quixote’s fascinating story from three distinct musical vantage points. From Georg Philipp Telemann’s 1761 orchestral suite to Richard Strauss’ sweeping tone poem composed in 1897, featuring Principal Cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn, to the Cincinnati premiere of CSO Principal Violist Christian Colberg’s recent Viola Concerto, all inspired by Cervantes’ expression of yearning through the Don Quixote character. We are always thrilled to introduce Cincinnati audiences to new music, but take special pride when that music is written by one of our own. At no time in recent memory has a CSO musician performed their own concerto composition with the Orchestra. This is a remarkable program in the life of the CSO.   —LOUIS LANGRÉE


Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616) is not only among the earliest examples of the novel in world literature (1605), but also one of the most admired and widely enjoyed. Cervantes sketched his hero thus: “Through little sleep and much reading, he dried up his brains in such sort as he wholly lost his judgment.” Thereupon, “He fell into one of the strangest conceits that a madman ever stumbled on in this world...that he himself should become a knight-errant, and go throughout the world with his horse and armor to seek adventures and practice in person all that he had read was used by knights of yore....”

Knights in shining armor were as much out of fashion in Cervantes’ day as covered wagons and the Pony Express are in ours, but the nostalgic, historical romance that they represent is the source of much of the poignancy that Don Quixote elicits and that served as the inspiration for works by some 60 composers, including Strauss, Telemann, Purcell, Massenet and Falla.

Along for the adventure, and the recipient of much abuse from his master, is Sancho Panza, Quixote’s witty, ironic, perceptive but devoted servant. Aldonza, although she appears in the novel only in the old man’s imagination, represents for him the ideal of beauty and chivalric love, though Cervantes indicates that she is at best a common farm girl or innkeeper’s daughter but probably someone far more experienced in the salacious ways of the world.

This Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert includes compositions from three centuries inspired by Cervantes’ timeless novel, works that speak of the enduring “quixotic” quest for the good, for the ideal, which help to renew our own human spirit.

Don Quichotte (Ouverture burlesque de Quichotte), TWV 55:G10

Born: March 14, 1681, Magdeburg, Germany

Died: June 25, 1767, Hamburg

Work composed: c. 1761

Instrumentation: keyboard, strings

CSO notable performances: These performances are the work’s CSO premiere.

Duration: approx. 17 minutes

With the condescending pronouncement, “Since the best man could not be obtained, mediocre ones would have to be accepted,” City Councilor Platz announced the appointment of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1723 as Kantor for Leipzig’s churches. Platz’s “best man” was Georg Philipp Telemann, then the most highly regarded composer in all Germany. Telemann’s association with Leipzig went back to 1701, when he left his hometown of Magdeburg to enroll at the city’s university; he was soon receiving regular commissions from the Leipzig City Council for new service music. In 1702, he became director of the local opera house, and began churning out specimens of that genre to fill his own stage. Two years later, he started a Collegium Musicum with some of his talented university friends in a local coffee house to give concerts of instrumental music and was also appointed organist and Kapellmeister of Leipzig’s Neukirche. A year later, Count Erdmann von Promnitz lured Telemann to his estate at Sorau, a hundred miles southeast of Berlin, to become his music master. In 1708 or 1709, Telemann was appointed court composer at Eisenach, Sebastian Bach’s birthplace, and in 1712, he moved to the post of city music director in Frankfurt-am-Main. Nine years later, he was named director of music for Hamburg’s five main churches. During his tenure, he also headed the municipal opera house and oversaw the city’s flourishing concert series. Telemann composed with staggering prolificacy for the rest of his days, being slowed only in his last years, like Bach and Handel, by problems with his eyesight. He died of (probably) pneumonia in 1767 (Mozart turned eleven that year), and was succeeded in his Hamburg post by his godson, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

Among Telemann’s vast catalog of instrumental suites are a number with extra-musical and programmatic associations. Perhaps the most familiar of these is the Hamburger Ebb’ und Flut (“Hamburg’s Ebb and Flow,” commonly known as Telemann’s Water Music), composed in 1723 to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the city’s Admiralty. Other of his referential instrumental works include suites titled La Lyra, Sounding Geography (depicting Germans, Swedes and Danes through various national dances; the work ends with a movement called The Old Women Bemoan the Good Old Days) and one brazenly dubbed La Putain (“The Prostitute”), which contains scenes of The Peasants’ Church Fête, The Witches’ Dance, The Inn of Lice, Boss-Girl Lissabeth and Brother Michael’s Goatee. Cervantes’ Don Quixote of 1605 inspired from Telemann both a vocal serenata (Don Quixote auf der Hochzeit [i.e., Marriage] des Camacho) and an instrumental suite.

Telemann’s Don Quixote suite opens with a rather stiff realization of the old French overture—somewhat arthritic dotted-rhythm strains in pompous tempo at beginning and end frame a livelier central episode of knight-errantly dash. The following movements, utilizing two-part dance form for their structural organization, explore a variety of moods to suggest their subjects. The Awakening of Don Quixote is a somnolent number incorporating a drone that is reluctant to be roused. His Attack on the Windmills develops an almost operatic fury. Sighs of Love for Princess Dulcinea uses the stock galant device of a small drooping melodic interval to portray Quixote’s amorous state. His servant’s misadventure (Sancho Panza Swindled) rudely interrupts this reverie. The mounts of the two adventurers are depicted in Rosinante Galloping and The Gallop of Sancho Panza’s Mule. The suite closes with a movement titled Don Quixote at Rest, but the music indicates that thoughts of adventure and heroic deeds continue to canter through the old man’s mind.

—Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Viola Concerto, “Don Quixote” 

Born: October 30, 1968,  Puerto Rico

Work composed: 2013

Premiere: October 2014, San Juan, by the Orquesta Sinfonica del Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico, Christian Colberg, violist

Instrumentation: solo viola, 2 flutes (incl. piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons (incl. contrabassoon), 2 horns, trumpet, timpani, crash cymbals, snare drum, suspended cymbals, tambour de basque, strings

CSO notable performances: These performances are the work’s CSO premiere.

Duration: approx. 30 minutes

Violist, violinist, composer and conductor Christian Colberg began his musical studies at the age of five and took his professional training as a violinist at the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, where he also served as assistant to his principal teacher, Shirley Givens. He made his New York City violin debut under the auspices of Música de Cámara, Inc. in 1992. In 1994 he joined the viola section of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and eventually won the position of Assistant Principal Violist, a post he held until being appointed to the Louise D. and Louis Nippert Chair as Principal Violist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2010. Since 2014, Colberg has also performed as Principal Viola with the Bellingham Festival of Music and recently became a regular performer with the Sitka Summer Music Festival in Alaska. In 2018, he was invited to perform as Principal Viola with the Aspen Music Festival as a visiting faculty member. In addition to his orchestral work, Colberg has performed internationally with noted artists such as Marvin Hamlisch, Gary Karr, Milton Katims, Augustin Hadelich, Samuel Sanders, Joseph Silverstein, Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, as well as the Muir, Cypress and Ariel String Quartets, and he is a frequent guest artist with the Silk Road Festival in China and Cincinnati’s Linton Chamber Music Series. He has appeared as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Victoria, Puerto Rico and San Salvador. He has taught at the Peabody Institute and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he taught an orchestral excerpts class 2012–2014, and he continues to offer orchestral audition training in his private studio. Christian Colberg was honored for his achievements in classical music by the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico in 1985 and again by the Senate in 1994; his additional awards include an Alpha Delta Kappa Foundation fine arts grant.

In 2013, Cervantes’ Don Quixote provided the inspiration for Christian Colberg’s Viola Concerto, which he premiered in October 2014 in San Juan with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico; its second movement (Aldonza) was chosen by that year’s Primrose International Viola Competition as its required piece. Colberg has since performed the Concerto with numerous orchestras. In June of 2018, his newest work, The Rant for Two Violas, was given its world premiere at the American Viola Society Festival in Los Angeles, with Colberg and Karin Brown as soloists. [Colberg and CSO violist Joanne Wojtowicz will perform The Rant for the CSO Chamber Players Concert on April 26 in Corbett Tower.]

Colberg wrote of the Concerto:

Essentially, there are three major compositions that form the core of the solo viola concerto repertory: the Bartók, Walton and Hindemith. Although they are truly great works, I find that for some first-time concertgoers the pieces can be a little hard to digest. So, I decided to write one of my own that would be accessible to a wider audience.

The Viola Concerto is in three movements, depicting characters from Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The first movement evokes Alonzo (the title character’s given name) before he embarks on the journey that renames him Don Quixote, just moments before his sense of reality and fantasy begins to blur. The second movement is Aldonza as she really was and not as Don Quixote’s idealized Dulcinea. The third movement represents Sancho as he was, is, and always will be.

—Dr. Richard E. Rodda


Don Quixote,Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character, Op. 35 

Born: June 11, 1864, Munich 

Died: September 8, 1949, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Work composed: 1897

Premiere: March 8, 1898, Cologne, Germany, Franz Wuellner conducting

Instrumentation: solo cello, solo viola, 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets (incl. E-flat clarinet), bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 6 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 tubas, timpani, bass drum, crash cymbals, glockenspiel, snare drum, tambour de basque, triangle, wind machine, harp, strings

CSO notable performances: 11 previous subscription weekends | Premiere: October 1924, Fritz Reiner conducting | Most recent: January 1996, Jesús López Cobos conducting; Marna Street, violist and Eric Kim, cellist.

Duration: approx. 38 minutes

In his large-scale tone poem, Richard Strauss emphasized the dramatic elements of Cervantes’ tale by assigning a theme representing Quixote to the solo cello, and then varying the melody to depict several episodes from the novel. Sancho Panza is usually played by the solo viola, as it will be this weekend, but it is also sometimes given to the tenor tuba and the bass clarinet. Strauss’ work portrays ten of Quixote’s exploits, described in a summary of the action that appeared in the two-piano version of the score:

Introduction: The elderly hero’s fancy teems with the “impossible follies” of the romantic works he has been reading. He goes mad [a sharp dissonance following a harp glissando] and in his madness he vows that he will become a knight-errant.

Theme: “Don Quixote, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance; Sancho Panza.” Here the theme of the hero is announced by the solo cello. Sancho Panza’s theme emerges first in the bass clarinet, then in the tenor tuba; later, however, it is given to the solo viola.

Variation I. “The Knight and his Squire Start on Their Journey.” Inspired by the beautiful Dulcinea of Toboso, the Knight attacks some “monstrous giants,” who are nothing more than windmills revolving in the breeze. The sails knock him down and he is in a “very evil plight.”

Variation II. “The Victorious Battle Against the Host of the Great Emperor Alifanfaron.” A huge army approaches in a swirling cloud of dust. It is only a great herd of sheep, but the Knight’s tottering mind perceives the flashing weapons of soldiery. He rushes into the charge, unmindful of Sancho’s warnings, and the muted brass depicts the pitiful bleating of the animals. The Knight is stoned by the shepherds, and he falls to the ground.

Variation III. “Colloquies of Knight and Squire.” Honor, glory, the Ideal Woman—these are the things that Don Quixote speaks on. Sancho, the realist, holds forth for a more comfortable life, but he is ordered to hold his tongue.

Variation IV. “The Adventure with the Penitents.” Mistaking a band of pilgrims for robbers and villains, Don Quixote attacks, only to receive a sound drubbing from them. The pilgrims depart, intoning their churchly theme, and the senseless Knight revives to the great delight of Sancho, who soon falls asleep.

Variation V. “The Knight’s Vigil.” Don Quixote spurns sleep. He will watch by his armor instead. Dulcinea, in answer to his prayers, comes to him in a vision, as the theme of the Ideal Woman is heard in the horn.

Variation VI. “The Meeting with Dulcinea.” Jestingly, Sancho points to a country wench as Dulcinea. Don Quixote then vows vengeance against the wicked magician who has wrought this transformation.

Variation VII. “The Ride Through the Air.” Blindfolded, Knight and squire sit astride a wooden horse, which—they have been informed—will carry them aloft. Their themes surge upward and one hears the whistling of the wind, including the whine of the wind machine, though the wooden horse has never left the ground.

Variation VIII. “The Journey to the Enchanted Park.” In an oarless boat, Don Quixote and Sancho embark, as the theme of the Knight comes through as a Barcarolle. Though the boat capsizes, the two finally reach shore and give thanks for their safety.

Variation IX. “The Combat with Two Magicians.” Back on his horse and eager as ever for adventure, Don Quixote violently charges into a peaceable pair of monks, who are going by on their mules. In his maddened brain, the monks are mighty magicians, and Quixote is elated beyond measure at their utter rout.

Variation X. “The Duel with the Knight of the White Moon.” The greatest setback of his knightly career is suffered by Quixote at the hands of the Knight of the White Moon, who is, after all, a true friend. He explains that he hoped to cure Don Quixote of his madness, and, having won the duel, orders him to retire peacefully to his home.

Finale. “The Death of Don Quixote.” The worn and harried Knight is no longer bemused. It was all vanity, he reflects, and he is prepared, now, for the peace that is death.

—Dr. Richard E. Rodda