Back to Posts

British and Hungarian Influences Featured on Season’s Final Symphony 101

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra steps into the musical world of 1943 with its final Symphony 101 concert of the season on Friday, May 22 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 24 at 3:00 pm, both at the Performance Hall at Hochstein, featuring compositions from Vaughan Williams and Bartók and conducted by  RPO Music Director, Christopher Seaman.

Vaughn Williams’ Symphony No. 5 was written during World War II and premiered in 1943 at a Proms Concert in London’s Royal Albert Hall by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer. The basic melodies of this piece were taken from one of Vaughn Williams’ unfinished operas, The Pilgrim’s Progress, which he had given up on years earlier. Recalling some of the styles of his 20 years of past compositions, it has great emotional strength, and audiences of the time speculated that this was Vaughan Williams’ “vision of peace.”

Contrasting the traditional sounds and melodies of Williams’ symphony, Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra uses nontraditional combinations to create its themes.  The composer heavily researched folk melodies while composing this piece, and they appear a great deal throughout.  Overall, the concerto is a combination of Western art music and Eastern European folk music – a combination of Hungary, Bartók’s country of birth, and the United States where he moved during World War II.  Although this piece has a symphonic structure, Bartók’s decision to call it a concerto makes itself obvious as each instrumental section is given a soloistic opportunity throughout the piece.

This season’s Symphony 101 Series focuses on six groundbreaking periods in the history of music when composers of contrasting symphonic styles were writing some of their most influential works at the very same time.  Music Director Christopher Seaman leads these engaging and innovative one-hour concerts that feature discussion, musical examples, selections from significant works, and complete pieces.  Following each concert, Mr. Seaman takes questions from the audience. 

Special $10 student pricing is in effect for the Sunday Symphony 101 performances.   All other general admission tickets are $22, available online 24/7 at, by phone (454-2100) in-person from the RPO Box Office and at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  RPO Box Office hours are 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm).

The Symphony 101 Series is sponsored by PAETEC Communications, Inc. RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County; and the City of Rochester.