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RPO’s Symphony 101 Reaches Across The Musical Spectrum of 1889

Rochester, NY – What does a tribute to Bohemia have in common with the fusion of French and German composition?  The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Symphony 101 concert under the baton of Music Director Christopher Seaman sheds light on this question by presenting two divergent musical pieces both written in the same year – 1889. On Friday, March 20 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 22 at 3:00 pm at the Performance Hall at Hochstein, the RPO traverses the diversity of Dvořák’s happy and bucolic Symphony No. 8 and Franck’s Symphony in D minor which stunned audiences when it first was performed.

Antonin Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 – called “The English” only due to its being published in London – is a celebration of Bohemia’s distinctive musical traditions.  Dvořák wanted to “write a work different from my other symphonies, with individual ideas worked out in a new manner.” The result is a collage of melodies that echo childhood and innocence.  On the other hand, César Franck’s only symphonic work, Symphony in D minor, first astonished and confused audiences when it premiered in 1889 because of its blending of French and German compositional styles, as well as its highly strange orchestrations.  Heavily influenced by the German composer, Richard Wagner, Franck’s symphony divided French audiences when it premiered — its critics claiming that it was a betrayal of “true” French classical music.  Despite the symphony’s poor initial reception, it quickly rose in popularity and became one of the most played works of the time period. Unfortunately, Franck died in 1890 and never got to see the height of his symphony’s success.

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 50-minute 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 Monday-Saturday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm (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.