I am eagerly looking forward to the world premiere of Michael Hersch’s Violin concerto at the beginning of November with St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) in the new Ordway Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. For me this will be this year’s highlight.

A free introductory event will be held on Wednesday 4 November 7:00 pm: “Music in the Making” with Michael Hersch and myself present in the UBS Forum at the MPR Broadcast Center, Downtown St. Paul.

5 November, 7:30 pm: Concert, Ordway Concert Hall * Additional performance!
6 November, 10:30 am: Concert, Ordway Concert Hall
6 November, 8:00 pm: Concert, Ordway Concert Hall
7 November, 8:00 pm: Concert, Ordway Concert Hall

If we play Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, we deal with marvellous inventions, but these come from a time when people wore wigs and were ruled by kings. Obviously there is a question about relevance of this old music for our times. Therefore I feel an urgent need to deal with contemporary musical languages. Michael Hersch is an outstanding American composer who writes out of the present and for the present. His violin concerto says just the things I feel myself, I can play it as if it would by my own music. It is a force of nature, deep, gripping, uncompromising. And there are no questions about relevance. I am fully aware that such music puts high demands not only on us interpreters but also on the audience. Therefore I am happy that we surround this heavy piece with Haydn’s Symphony Nr. 49 “La Passione” and with Beethoven’s violin concerto, the greatest violin concerto ever written. I hope that we will be able to play this program in many other places.

To book tickets, please visit the SPCO website.


written by Michael Hersch

Violin Concerto (2015)

The violin has always held a special place for me. I have come back to the instrument more than any other during my life as a composer (even though I am a pianist). To write a work for Patricia Kopatchinskaja and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra has been a tremendous honor. The concerto continues a series of works I’ve written in response to the death of a dear friend whose passing occurred now over five years ago. While time does often heal, or at least calm the immediacy of grief’s presence, it has not in this case. If anything, with the passage of time I miss her more and the sensation of a void remains acute. The concerto is in four movements. The first and last movements are brief – serving essentially as prelude and postlude. These movements are only several minutes each. The interior movements are longer – the second movement approximately 7 minutes, and the third movement some 14 minutes. While composing the second movement I thought often of a bronze sculpture by the Pennsylvania sculptor Christopher Cairns which he calls Stanchion. For some reason the figure kept coming to mind as I wrote that particular movement. During the writing of the third movement, fragments from Thomas Hardy’s poems A Commonplace Day and The Church and the Wedding provided inspiration:


The day is turning ghost …
I part the fire-gnawed logs,
Rake forth the embers, spoil the busy flames, and lay the ends
Upon the shining dogs;
Further and further from the nooks the twilights’s stride extends,
And beamless black impends …

And when the nights moan like the wailings
Of souls sore-tried,
The folk say who pass the church-palings
They hear inside

Strange sounds of anger and sadness
That cut the heart’s core,
And shaken words bitter to madness;
And then no more
(Thomas Hardy)