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Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Opening Concerts Learn more about the music

A warm welcome to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s 2021/22 season which brings with it a return to capacity houses at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall for the first time in 18 months. This year we’re presenting our popular programme notes in a new way.

You can watch Stephen Johnson talking about the concert programme here.

And in addition, this companion page draws together a range of complementary content which we hope will help shine additional light on the pieces, the people who composed them and the performers bringing them to life here in Hope Street.

Domingo Hindoyan opens his first season as chief conductor

It’s less a new broom and more a new baton as we welcome Domingo Hindoyan to the Philharmonic family.

When his appointment as chief conductor was announced last summer, the Venezuelan maestro reported he had received so many messages from the people of Liverpool that he did, indeed, “feel like I’d become a part of a new family. I feel protected now – and it’s a fantastic feeling.”

Now he’s ready to share his musical “addiction and passion”.

More information on Hindoyan here

One important theme of the new season is a celebration of women in classical music.

And what better way to begin than by pairing the key work of the greatest 19th Century female composer and performer with one of the most dazzling of the current cohort of classical female figures?

Clara Schumann – 19th Century pioneer

It was Tuesday, May 20 1856, and there was an air of anticipation at the Philharmonic Hall.

Because alongside vocal soloists Miss Sherrington and Herr Rokitansky, that evening’s Liverpool Philharmonic Society programme also included the woman the Liverpool Mail heralded as “the first female pianiste of the day and one of the most romantic, clever and devoted females of her age” – Madame Clara Schumann.

Find out what made Clara so special in this examination of her life and legacy.

Returning to that May evening in 1856, if the audience were hoping to hear Schumann perform her own piano concerto – completed when the former child prodigy Clara Wieck was 15 – they would have been disappointed.

Instead, her repertoire encompassed Beethoven’s Concerto in E flat, Mendelssohn’s Presto Scherzando in F minor and two pieces by her husband Robert.

Here are nine of Clara’s works the Philharmonic audience might have enjoyed.

While Schumann may never have played her own concerto at the Philharmonic Hall, this week it will be performed, and by another talented young woman.

Isata Kanneh-Mason

The eldest of the celebrated family of exceptional young musicians, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason returns to Hope Street to complete her tenure as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Young Artist in Residence.

Aptly, the 25-year-old’s first solo recording Romance included Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto, recorded at the Friary in Everton with none other than the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

As the charismatic Kanneh-Mason explains:

“The most inspirational thing for me about Clara Schumann is her strength. She was a woman living 200 years ago and she managed to sustain an incredibly long concert career. She also raised seven children. Coming from a family of seven myself I think that’s really, really impressive and I’m honoured to play her music.”

Could Clara have been the Beyoncé of her day? Here Kanneh-Mason makes the case.

More information on Isata Kanneh-Mason here.

A Dance to the Music of Time

These season opening concerts are also designed to get you swaying in your seat with strong dance rhythms running through the programme.

Despite his prolific composing career, Der Rosenkavalier remains one of Richard Strauss’s crowning glories which its own creator acknowledged.

Manuel de Falla’s music may have been infused with the shimmering soundscape of his Andalusian surroundings, but before he settled in Granada he spent seven formative years in Paris where he immersed himself in the world not only of French composers like Debussy and Ravel but also of Igor Stravinsky.

Back in Spain, Stravinsky introduced him to Sergei Diaghilev, and the idea for what became the Three-Cornered Hat was born.

Did you know? When the Ballet Russes premiered The Three-Cornered Hat in 1919, it was with set and costumes by fellow Spaniard Pablo Picasso?

Antonin Dvořák composed two sets of Slavonic Dances, the first (Op 46) in 1878 and, due to their success, a second set (Op 72) in 1886.

Although he followed the model of Brahms’ earlier Hungarian Dances, Dvořák only took the rhythms of traditional folk music, using them as a framework for his own original melodies.

The exquisite, elegiac quality of his Op 72, No 2 – a Starodávný (traditional dance) in E minor – captured the imagination of filmmakers who used it in this poignant scene in the 2006 British film Venus.

Sir Malcolm Arnold

When Malcolm Arnold’s publisher asked him to write something like Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, the young composer obliged with two sets of his own dances inspired by English country folk tunes.

The second set was premiered in a Henry Wood Promenade Concert in 1952 – and the eagle-eared may recognise its opening movement from long-running BBC programme What the Papers Say.

October sees the centenary of the birth of Arnold, son of a prosperous Northampton shoe manufacturer and talented pianist.

Music was a central part of Arnold’s life from a young age. The composer himself said: "Music is the social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."

His was a long but not always an easy life.

But despite his personal difficulties, he left the world with a rich range of melodic work – including a vast catalogue of glorious film music from the drama of Oscar-winning The Bridge on the River Kwai..

...to the jaunty Belles of St Trinian’s.

Did you know? In 1969, Arnold conducted a live recording of Jon Lord’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall involving the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Deep Purple.