March 21, 2019
Thomas Larcher's Symphony No. 2 ("Kenotaph") To Be Given U.S. Premiere by New York Philharmonic Under Semyon Bychkov, April 24–30
Richard Haughton

“Larcher is an unpredictable, freethinking composer, who has set aside the modernist strictures that have long governed Central European music. He plunges into tonal spheres without irony or theoretical circumspection.” — Alex Ross, The New Yorker
(click here for additional press)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (March 21, 2019) — Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No. 2 (“Kenotaph”), premiered in 2016 by the Vienna Philharmonic under Semyon Bychkov, is given its U.S. premiere by Mr. Bychkov and the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall on Wednesday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. In the few years since its composition, the work has been performed by orchestras across Europe, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, and Radio Filharmonisch Orkest. In 2018, Mr. Larcher was awarded the Fondation Prince de Monaco’s €75,000 Musical Composition Prize for this symphony. Previous recipients of this award include George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Péter Eötvös, Sofia Gubaidulina, György Kurtág, György Ligeti, and Michael Tippett.

In addition to receiving its U.S. premiere on April 24, Mr. Larcher’s Symphony No. 2 is performed by Mr. Bychkov and the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall on Thursday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m.Saturday, April 27 at 8:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. The program also features Brahms’s Symphony No. 4. Tickets starting at $33 may be purchased online at nyphil.org, by calling (212) 875-5656, or at the David Geffen Hall Box Office.

Symphony No. 2 (2015–16) is a 35-minute, four-movement work whose mix of intimate chamber scoring and full orchestral textures reflects Mr. Larcher’s original conception of the work as a concerto for orchestra. Describing the ideas behind the symphony, he said:

“I want to explore the forms of our musical past under the light of the (musical and human) developments we have been part of during our lifetime. How can we find tonality that speaks in our time? And how can the old forms speak to us? These are questions I often ask myself. This piece is very much about different forms of energy: bundled, scattered, smooth, kinetic, or furious.”

In terms of the cultural and political developments of our time, the ongoing European immigrant crisis was of particular influence on Mr. Larcher in composing Symphony No. 2. The work's subtitle, “Kenotaph,” refers to monuments erected to memorialize those killed in war, or in the composer’s own words, “graves for lost and forgotten souls.” He explained:

“Thousands upon thousands of people drowned in the Mediterranean while all of Europe stood on the sidelines idly observing this tragedy or even looking away. [This symphony] is a symbol for what has been going on and is still going on in the middle of Europe.”

Mr. Larcher was commissioned to write Symphony No. 2 by the central bank of Austria (Oesterreichische Nationalbank) to mark its 200th anniversary. He dedicated the work to Semyon Bychkov, who worked closely with him leading up to the world premiere in Vienna and went on to conduct the symphony’s U.K. premiere in 2016 (see below), followed by performances with the Munich Philharmonic in 2017.

Thomas Larcher: Symphony No. 2
(U.K. Premiere)

Performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Semyon Bychkov at the
BBC Proms, 2016.

Thomas Larcher discusses
Symphony No. 2 with Monaco Info

Thomas Larcher interviewed after winning the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco’s
Musical Composition Prize.

In addition to the above award, Mr. Larcher won the City of Vienna’s 2018 Ernst Krenek Prize for Symphony No. 2. Previous recipients of this €10,000 award include Georg Friedrich Haas, Olga Neuwirth, and René Staar.

Currently, Mr. Larcher is composing his Symphony No. 3 on commission from the Royal Concertgebouw, where he is the 2019–20 Composer in Residence. The work will be premiered at the hall’s annual Mahler Festival on May 9, 2020 by the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest under Hannu Lintu. Mr. Larcher is also composing a work for solo piano to be premiered by Paul Lewis on June 8 at the 2019 Aldeburgh Festival, where the composer is one of three Artists in Residence this year, alongside Barbara Hannigan and Mark Padmore. Additionally, from June 7 to 9, the festival presents the U.K. premiere of Mr. Larcher’s first opera, Das Jagdgewehr (The Hunting Gun), which was given its critically acclaimed world premiere last year at the Bregenz Festival. The opera will also be performed at the Dutch National Opera in March 2020.

 

About Thomas Larcher

Born in Innsbruck in 1963, Thomas Larcher grew up in Austrian Tyrol, later moving to Vienna where he studied composition and piano. His early career combined composition, performance, teaching, and festival direction. He turned increasingly to composition as the number of commissions from musicians and institutions grew over the years.

From the very beginning, Mr. Larcher’s music has reflected an interest in crossing stylistic boundaries while also drawing upon avant-garde innovations. His works have been premiered by ensembles including the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Andris Nelsons, San Francisco Symphony under Osmo Vänskä, and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies, as well as by such artists as Leif Ove Andsnes, Isabelle Faust, Till Fellner, Matthias Goerne, Kim Kashkashian, Viktoria Mullova, Mark Padmore, and Christian Tetzlaff. Following the upcoming performances by the New York Philharmonic are the Czech premiere of Böse Zellen by the Brno Philharmonic under Nicholas Milton and the U.K. premiere of Chiasma by the BBCSO under Sakari Oramo.

In addition to his awards for Symphony No. 2, Mr. Larcher’s honors include the International Category of the 2012 British Composer Awards, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 2014 Elise L. Stoeger Prize, and the 2015 Austrian Kunstpreis for Music. His discography, which includes four albums devoted exclusively to his music (on the ECM and Harmonia Mundi labels), has garnered several international prizes, including the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Choc du Monde de la Musique, and the Diapason d’Or.

Mr. Larcher has been Composer in Residence at the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, Wiener Konzerthaus, and Wigmore Hall, London, as well as at festivals across Europe. He is Artistic Director of the Swarovski Musik im Riesen Festival, which he founded in 2004 in Wattens, Austria.

For more information, visit thomaslarcher.com. To listen to his music on Spotify, click here.

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Wednesday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Open Rehearsal — 9:45 a.m.
Thursday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 27 at 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m.

David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center

New York Philharmonic
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

Thomas LARCHER Symphony No. 2, Kenotaph (U.S. premiere)
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4

Tickets starting at $33 may be purchased online at nyphil.org, by calling (212) 875-5656, or at the David Geffen Hall Box Office.

# # #

Press contact:
Shuman Associates
shumanpr@shumanassociates.net | (212) 315-1300

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