About the Concert

Distinguished conductor Valery Gergiev leads the third annual Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert to be telecast on Great Performances, Friday, August 19, 2011 at 9:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). This year’s theme revolves around “Virtuoso Pictures,” as exemplified by the works of Franz Liszt, Niccolo Paganini, Modest Mussorgsky, and Johann Strauss.

The concert in the Schönbrunn Palace’s magnificent baroque gardens is free to thousands of attendees in Vienna, and serves the Orchestra’s objective of making classical music accessible to a broad spectrum of concertgoers beyond its usual, core audience.

The musical program is as follows:

Franz LisztLes Prėludes
Fritz Kreisler Concerto in One Movement after Paganini’s Violin Concerto op. 6
Modest MussorgskyPictures at an Exhibition
Johann Strauss IIVienna Spirit Waltz (encore), On the Banks of the Danube, Quick Polka

This is Gergiev’s second time leading the popular summer concert, and he’s part of a distinguished lineup that has included Bobby McFerrin, Zubin Mehta, Plácido Domingo, Georges Prêtres, Daniel Barenboim and Franz Welser-Möst.

Maestro Gergiev was born in Moscow and grew up in the Caucasus. He has been the artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg for many years, and has long enjoyed a warm relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Liszt’s Les Preludes is one of the 19th century composer and virtuoso pianist’s most famous orchestral works which he likened to the “series of preludes to that unknown hymn” (i.e. Death). Virtuoso violinist Paganini’s skill is mirrored in his Violin Concerto No. 1, the first movement of which is played by Austrian Benjamin Schmid on a 1731 Stradivarius.

Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition further embodies the evening’s “virtuoso pictures” theme. The 1874 work was composed in remembrance of an artist friend, and offers a musical tour through a gallery. The “pictures” are brought to life by the Vienna State Opera Ballet, choreographed by soloist dancer Gregor Hatala who also choreographs the dance accompanying audience favorite Wiener Blut.

Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2011 is directed by Karina Fibich, with John Walker as producer. For Great Performances, John Walker and Cara Cosentino are producers; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

Major funding for the Great Performances telecast is provided by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Irene Diamond Fund, The Starr Foundation, Vivian Milstein, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Joseph A. Wilson, Vera von Kuffner Eberstadt, public television viewers, and PBS. Exclusive corporate support for the concert is provided by Rolex.