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Nashville Symphony Showcases Eastern European composers at January 30 – February 1 Concerts

Nashville Symphony Showcases Eastern European composers at January 30 – February 1 Concerts

Program features concertmaster Jun Iwasaki as soloist, plus Brahms’ enduring Third Symphony

Nashville, Tenn. (January 23, 2020) — The Nashville Symphony’s 2019/20 Classical Series resumes on January 30 – February 1 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center withRomantic Rhapsodies, as guest conductor Lawrence Foster and the orchestra perform Brahms’ Third Symphony, followed by a musical journey to Eastern Europe with George Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 and 2, and Béla Bartók’s Rhapsody No. 1 and 2 for Violin and Orchestra, the latter featuring Symphony concertmaster Jun Iwasaki as violin soloist.

Great seats are available starting at $27 (prices subject to change, additional fees apply), and the Symphony’s Soundcheck program offers $10 tickets to students in K-12, college and graduate school.


About the Program

  • The term “rhapsody” is derived from the ancient Greeks and roughly translates to “songs stitched together.” Rhapsodies are typically one-movement, episodic works that bring together an array of tunes in a free-flowing manner and usually feature a wide range of contrasting moods and tones. Both Bartók and Enescu pulled from the authentic folk music of Eastern Europe for the material in their respective rhapsodies.


  • One of Hungary’s most important composers (along with Franz Lizst), Béla Bartók was a pioneer in the field of ethnomusicology – the study of music from cultural and social perspectives. His rhapsodies came about at the end of a decade that included some of the most challenging scores of his career, when he realized he needed to write more accessible material. Drawing from Romanian folk material for the majority of the melodies in these works, Bartók also employed a two-part structure that is derived from the “verbunkos,” traditional dance music that was used to attract recruits to the Austro-Hungarian military.


  • The Nashville Symphony’s concertmaster since 2011, Jun Iwasaki has been hailed by the Fort Worth Star Telegram for his ability to “…reach into violin and pull out bouquets of sound, then reach behind your ear and touch your soul.” A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s prestigious Concertmaster Academy, Iwasaki teaches at the Blair School of Music and serves as the artistic director of Portland (OR) Summer Ensembles, a chamber music workshop for young musicians.


  • Romanian composer George Enescu was as one of the most exceptional child prodigies in music history, which regularly earns him comparisons to Mozart. He was already composing by the age of 7 when he gained admission to the prestigious Vienna Conservatory, and he was only 16 when his Poème Roumain (Romanian Poem for Orchestra) premiered in Paris. He wrote his two Romanian Rhapsodies four years later, which were performed in reverse order (per Enescu’s wishes) in Bucharest in 1903. The first of the two rhapsodies was such a success that he would later bemoan that it eclipsed his later compositions.


  • Brahms was a central figure in the famed “War of the Romantics,” a mid-19th century feud that pitted him and other traditional composers against a progressive movement led by Richard Wagner and Liszt. The feud also threatened the premiere of Brahms’ Third Symphony on December 2, 1883, when Wagner supporters tried to disrupt the performance in a Vienna concert hall, creating a conflict that nearly resulted in a duel. The performance ultimately went ahead, and the piece earned rave reviews.


Tickets for Romantic Rhapsodies may be purchased:

Full program notes, artist bios, a Spotify playlist and more can be found at


The GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony has earned an international reputation for its innovative programming and its commitment to performing, recording and commissioning works by America’s leading composers. The Nashville Symphony has released more than 30 recordings on Naxos, which have received 24 GRAMMY® nominations and 13 GRAMMY® Awards, making it one of the most active recording orchestras in the country. The orchestra has also released recordings on Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and New West Records, among other labels. With more than 140 performances annually, the orchestra offers a broad range of classical, pops and jazz, and children’s concerts, while its extensive education and community engagement programs reached 45,000 children and adults during the 2018/19 season.



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