Program Booklet

Anja Bihlmaier with Schubert's Unfinished Symphony

Sunday, April 14
14:15 hour until approximately 4:15 p.m.

Schubert's breathtaking Unfinished Symphony and Beethoven's heroic Fifth Piano Concerto, nicknamed Emperor. An afternoon to look forward to.


What are you going to listen to?

Opening this afternoon is for one of the most influential and innovative composers of the twentieth century: Igor Stravinsky. Music was like inventing for them. As an eight-year-old boy, he already found that he could take a note out of a scale to create something new. Later, his music would always be recognizable by strong but unpredictable rhythms and complex harmonies. Stravinsky also liked to draw inspiration from music of the past. For his work for chamber orchestra Dumbarton Oaks, he "borrowed" music from Bach, especially Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. The rhythmic pulse and sudden accents characteristic of Stravinsky make the work joyful and humorous. Dumbarton Oaks was written for the 30th wedding anniversary of Robert and Mildred Bliss, an American diplomatic family and also great art and music lovers who lived on the Dumbarton Oaks estate.


In addition to seven completed symphonies, Franz Schubert left fifteen unfinished, often no more than a few sketches. With the Eighth Symphony he still came a long way. Two movements of it he completed in 1822; of a Scherzo he made a complete piano draft and several pages in score. A Finale, however, is completely missing. He gave the complete movements to his friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner, intended to have it performed by the Steiermärkischen Musikverein in Graz, where he was conductor. It never came to that. Hüttenbrenner kept the score in his possession and did not release it for performance until 1865. Since then, it has gone down in history as the Unvollendete Sinfonie.

Whereas one song after another flowed seemingly effortlessly from his pen, Schubert apparently had more difficulty with the symphony. The first six, made for the orchestra of his father's school, went fairly easily for him. But after that, it apparently became more difficult. "Who can do anything after Beethoven?" he is said to have once said. Yet with this symphony, Schubert convincingly belies this statement. It is a wonderful blend of early romanticism and subtle vocal art, transferred to the symphony orchestra. For where Beethoven often chose short, rhythmically powerful themes, Schubert goes for broad melodies that he allows to sound out fully. It gives the music a mild but decidedly deep emotional charge and a stately carried grandeur. Beethoven would have been pleased.


Beethoven began his fifth and Last piano concerto in 1809 when Napoleon's army had seized Vienna and the Austrian imperial family and Archbishop Rudolf, Beethoven's backer and pupil, had fled the city. By the way, the title "Emperor's Concerto," referring to Napoleon, is not Beethoven's own, but presumably that of Johann Baptist Cramer, the work's English publisher. Beethoven probably did not accord this title, given his anti-Napoleonic attitude that he gradually developed. Nevertheless, the nickname has been retained, referring mainly to the majestic design and grandeur of the work.

For the piano concerto begins with three majestic chords by the orchestra, followed by broken chords by the pianist. Then several themes are introduced that Beethoven returns to in various guises in an extended sonata form. The second movement is a beautifully intimate movement with muted strings. After the nocturne-like atmosphere, the pianist plays the theme of the Last movement during a sustained horn tone. The cheerful and heroic finale has a rondo form with a recurring "refrain. At the end, the music seems to die out, but after virtuosic piano runs, the orchestra concludes with decisive chords.

Prefer it on paper? Download a condensed printable version of this program.


Residentie Orkest The Hague
The Residentie Orkest has been setting the tone as a symphony orchestra for nearly 120 years. We are proud of that. We have a broad, surprising and challenging repertoire and perform the finest compositions.
Anja Bihlmaier
Chief conductor
Anja Bihlmaier has been chief conductor of the Residentie Orkest since the summer of 2021.
Steven Osborne
The winner of two BBC Music Magazine Awards, among others, is one of Britain's most highly regarded pianists with a very diverse repertoire, whether Beethoven or Messiaen, Schubert or Ravel, Prokofiev or jazz improvisations.
The Residentie Orkest offers the conductor and soloist at this concert a linocut by The Hague artist Mariska Mallee.

Fun Fact


The graves of Beethoven and Schubert are close together in Vienna's Zentralfriedhof. Beethoven's tombstone has the only text: Beethoven.


What was Schubert's nickname?
  • Schubertiade

    Right answer: Schwammerl

    Because he was somewhat chubby and only 5 feet tall, Schubert was nicknamed "Schwammerl" (little mushroom).

  • Schwammerl

    Right answer: Schwammerl

    Because he was somewhat chubby and only 5 feet tall, Schubert was nicknamed "Schwammerl" (little mushroom).

  • Tragic

    Right answer: Schwammerl

    Because he was somewhat chubby and only 5 feet tall, Schubert was nicknamed "Schwammerl" (little mushroom).

Right answer: Schwammerl

Because he was somewhat chubby and only 5 feet tall, Schubert was nicknamed "Schwammerl" (little mushroom).

Today in the orchestra

Cato Went

Second violin

Astrid Schrijner

Double Bass

Rieneke Brink

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