Click here to see the 2016-2017 Concert Guide!

Experience the tradition, the stories and the emotional power of classical music as it was meant to be heard. We invite you to join us for Masterworks. Nine concerts of breathtaking selections from the world’s most inspired composers. Performed with a passion that will stir your soul and bring joy to your heart.

Want to learn about the show you’re about to see? Join us for a 30-minute pre-concert talk, offered for all Masterworks performances.

Subscriptions renewal packages for the 2017-2018 season will be sent out in March. New subscriptions will be available beginning June 12. Single tickets will go on sale in August.

Masterworks Series Subscription

Choral Fantasy and Mystical Songs

Friday, June 9, 2017 - Sunday, June 11, 2017

HSO Assistant Conductor Adam Kerry Boyles leads his first complete Masterworks concert! Brahms’ sparkling Academic Festival Overture was composed as a musical “thank you” to the University of Breslau for awarding him an honorary doctorate. A curmudgeonly joker, Brahms created a “boisterous potpourri of student drinking songs.” This program also explores the unique relationship of teacher and student – Haydn and Beethoven as well as Ravel and Vaughan Williams. Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy” combines grandeur and lyricism, with a foreshadowing of his “Ode to Joy” from the Ninth Symphony. Inspired by the Anglican Church, Williams’ meditative Five Mystical Songs sets four poems by poet and priest George Herbert to music, concluding in a triumphant hymn of praise.

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Beethoven's Eroica

Friday, October 6, 2017 - Sunday, October 8, 2017

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! The HSO kicks off the 2017-2018 season with a captivating program featuring one of Beethoven’s most celebrated works! Beethoven’s “Eroica” is a journey of emotional extremes. This heroic and mighty symphony was originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, but when Napoleon declared himself an emperor, the composer was so enraged he changed the dedication. Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont was written as a set of incidental music pieces for the 1787 play of the same name by Goethe, who declared that Beethoven had expressed his intentions with “a remarkable genius.” And Yugo Kanno’s Revive spotlights two Japanese instruments unique to an orchestral concert – the shakuhachi, an end-blown flute, and the koto, a traditional stringed instrument.

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Mozart & La Mer

Friday, November 10, 2017 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! Claude Debussy’s sparkling La Mer is a masterpiece of suggestion and subtlety in its rich depiction of the sea. This sensual three-movement impression of the ocean is one of Debussy’s most revered works. Berlioz’s Le corsaire was also inspired by the sea, written when the composer was on holiday in Nice, France, in 1844. The result of this retreat is a piece of music that is dizzying and serene, playful and brassy. Mozart’s enchanting Violin Concerto No. 5 was composed after several trips to Italy with his father, where he became enamored with the violin. This concerto, nicknamed “The Turkish,” was one of five Mozart composed for violin and orchestra over the span of five months in 1775.

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December Dreams

Friday, December 8, 2017 - Sunday, December 10, 2017

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! This December, the HSO presents a program of music sure to put you in a festive mood. Tchaikovsky’s selections from The Nutcracker bring to musical life everyone’s favorite holiday tale – young Clara’s dreams of a Nutcracker Prince. William Henry Fry’s Santa Claus (Christmas Symphony) is both a secular and religious celebration of the holiday, complete with a weary traveler, a holiday party and a visit by Father Christmas as the children sleep. Plus, American composer Jennifer Higdon’s Oboe Concerto makes its HSO premiere, putting the spotlight on the beauty and grace of the instrument with a playful and shimmering piece. ‘Tis the season!

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A Scottish Fantasy

Friday, January 19, 2018 - Sunday, January 21, 2018

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! We are breaking out the bagpipes for 2018 with a concert of music inspired by the vibrant country of Scotland! Maxwell Davies’ An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise is a vivid depiction of a joyous wedding celebration, gloriously concluding with a bagpiper performing in full Scottish regalia. Bruch’s four-movement Scottish Fantasy, pays homage to Scottish folk melodies including “Auld Rob Morris,” “The Dusty Miller,” “I’m a’Doon for Lack o’ Johnnie,” and the patriotic anthem “Scots Wha Hae.” Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, “Scottish,” is the result of the composer’s preoccupation with Scottish history, and his visit to the ruins of Holyrood Chapel in Edinburgh while on Grand Tour in 1829, calling to mind the wild romantic landscapes of the north, at the same time stormy and jubilant.

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The Keys to Romance

Friday, February 16, 2018 - Sunday, February 18, 2018

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! It’s a night of epic love for our annual Valentine’s weekend program, featuring the dynamic Anderson & Roe Piano Duo! Mascagni’s one-act opera Cavalleria rusticana tells the doomed tale of a love affair that ends with a duel to the death. Its lush, dramatic “Intermezzo” is considered one of the single most attractive tunes in operatic history. Haydn’s invigorating Symphony No. 104 in D Major, “London,” was written in tribute to the city he had come to adore (and that adored him right back!). Sarasate’s raw, virtuosic Fantasy on Bizet’s Carmen pays tribute to Bizet’s beloved opera, the tragic love story of soldier Don Jose and the fiery gypsy Carmen. Poulenc’s “Allegro ma non troppo” from Concerto for Two Pianos in D minor is effervescent and sentimental. Plus, Anderson & Roe will delight with lush piano duos!

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Stravinsky & Swan Lake

Friday, March 9, 2018 - Sunday, March 11, 2018

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! Stravinsky’s turbulent Symphony in Three Movements was written as a direct response to the events of WWII. He wrote the symphony in the final days of the war, influenced, as he wrote, by “our arduous time of sharp and shifting events, of despair and hope, of continual torments, of tension and, at last, cessation and relief…” Stravinsky’s engaging Game of Cards (Jeu de Cartes) ballet is said to have been motivated by his fondness for poker, with the main character being the cunning Joker. Tchaikovsky revolutionized the art of composing for dance, and his Swan Lake is recognized as one of the most popular ballets in the world, inspired by Russian folk tales and one of the composer’s most beautiful works.

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Copland & Gershwin

Friday, April 6, 2018 - Sunday, April 8, 2018

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! It’s a spring celebration of two favorite American composers! Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F solidified his reputation as a “serious” composer who straddled the line of popular and traditional music. He said that hearing an orchestra perform this concerto, which is flavored with blues, barrelhouse and ragtime, was his greatest musical thrill. Dramatically evocative of the American West and prairie life, Copland’s Billy the Kid follows the life of the infamous outlaw, and presents Billy as a romanticized symbol of the passions and dangers of the Wild West. And Copland’s spirited An Outdoor Overture is an optimistic, rousing tribute to Americana. Plus, Theofanidis’ colorful Rainbow Body takes inspiration from 12th century composer Hildegard of Bingen, as well as the Tibetan Buddist idea of “rainbow body” – where the body of an enlightened being is absorbed back into the universe after death.

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Shostakovich 5

Friday, May 4, 2018 - Sunday, May 6, 2018

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! “If they cut off both hands, I will compose music anyway holding the pen in my teeth,” said Shostakovich in 1936. When composing his Symphony No. 5 during the “Great Terror” in Russia, he was under great political pressure to simplify his music and adapt it to reflect socialist realism. While authorities heard everything they had demanded of Shostakovich in the gripping piece, the public heard it as a testament to its sorrow and suffering. His delightful Tahiti Trot was written in response to a challenge from fellow conductor Nikolai Malka, who bet Shostakovich he could not re-orchestrate the song from memory in under an hour (spoiler alert: he did). His popular Cello Concerto No. 1 is regarded as his finest concerto, and one of the most difficult to perform of its kind.

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Carmina Burana: Festival of Fate

Friday, June 8, 2018 - Sunday, June 10, 2018

Part of the 2017-2018 Masterworks Series! Become part of the spectacle of excess when the HSO, with the Hartford Chorale, presents this dramatic interpretation of Orff’s Carmina Burana. Experience the revelry and drama as we take over the theater with a celebration of the pleasures of drink, nature, love, lust, wealth, gluttony and gambling. But beware – the wheel of fortune deals out triumph and disaster at random, so heed its warning about the power of luck and fate! The concert opens with Barber’s lush and textured Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a tender depiction of Knoxville, Tennessee, set to excerpts from James Agee’s 1938 nostalgic prose poem by the same name.

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Masterworks Series Sponsor
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Pre-Concert Talk Sponsor
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Additional support from
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