Tag Archives: Brahms

Benjamin Grosvenor

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 will be opening night for our 2017-2018 piano series and we are bringing back Benjamin Grosvenor for his third visit to us since 2014.

For a bit of background on him, check out our initial blog about him, https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/benjamin-grosvenor/, or visit his website at https://www.benjamingrosvenor.co.uk/

The young pianist continues to delight and impress audiences around the world.  Grosvenor continues to tour and play both with orchestras and in recital. He made his LA debut in May of 2017 receiving this great review – http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-benjamin-grosvenor-review-20170501-story.html

Since he was here last, he has released another album on the Decca Classics label.  Homages was released in 2016, making it the fourth CD he has released since signing on in 2011 as their youngest British artist.


His program for our Toronto concert is:

Mozart   Sonata in B-flat Major, K.333, “Linz

Brahms   Four Pieces, Op. 119

Brett Dean   Hommage à Brahms (played as interludes between the Brahms pieces above)


Debussy   L’après midi d’un faune (arr. Leonard Borwick/George Copeland)

Berg   Sonata, Op. 1

Ravel   Gaspard de la nuit


If you haven’t heard him live yet, you will want to join us on November 7th!


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Brett Dean

Australian Brett Dean is a contemporary composer. Born in Brisbane in 1961, he played violin from the age of eight and later moved to viola. He studied at the Queensland Conservatorium, graduating with the Conservatorium Medal for the highest achieving Student of the Year in 1982.

In 1985, he joined the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as a violist. He played with them until 1999.  He returned to Australia in 2000, deciding to work as a freelance artist. He started composing in 1988, originally for film and radio.

His list of compositions and awards has grown greatly over the years and includes pieces for ballet, opera, orchestra, chamber music, solo instruments, and choral. In 2016, Dean became the inaugural Artist in Residence with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a position which will last for three years and includes conducting, performing, and collaborating with creative programming. The world premier of his latest opera, Hamlet, took place this past summer at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

We will hear his piano piece Hommage à Brahms played by Benjamin Grosvenor at our November 7, 2017 concert. While this three movement piece can be played on its own, it was intended to be performed as interludes between the Four Pieces of Op. 119 by Johannes Brahms – Engelsflügel 1 placed between Brahms’ B-minor and E-minor Intermezzos, Hafenkneipenmusik between the E-minor and C-major Intermezzos, and Engelsflügel 2 between the C-major Intermezzo and the E-flat-major Rhapsody. It will be played this way by Grosvenor at our concert.

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Brahms’ childhood

The Brahms family was not a rich family initially. Johann Jakob and Christiane worked hard to provide for themselves and their growing family. As mentioned in last week’s post, when they married they didn’t have much between them but they were both hard workers.

They had three children and Johannes was the middle child. He had an older sister and a younger brother. Though his father broke tradition and did not follow in his own father’s footsteps, initially Johannes started to learn music to learn his father’s craft and follow in the new family tradition of being a musician. Johannes talent became evident fairly quickly and he moved on to proper lessons at a young age. Making him into a child prodigy was discouraged by one of his teachers. And instead of sending Johannes out on a grand tour at a young age, his parents continued his lessons. Though the family did not have a lot, his parents did what they could to foster his talent. Johannes started contributing to the household finances as soon as he was able by playing in local taverns and dance halls.

By all accounts, while his childhood was not luxurious, it was loving. He was shown the value of hard work by example and was raised by parents who wanted the best for their children. Johannes had a close relationship with both of his parents and kept in touch with them both over the years. After his mother’s death, his father remarried with Johannes’ blessing and no animosity towards his new stepmother (though he was well past the age of needing a mother figure at that point). His upbringing gave him the foundation for his future and it seems like a pretty solid foundation to me.

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Alexandre Da Costa

Alexandre Da Costa was born in 1979 in Montreal. Skilled on both the violin and piano at a young age, he completed a Master’s Degree in violin from Conservatoire de Musique du Québec and a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Interpretation from the University of Montreal when he was 18 years old.

When he had to choose just one, he decided on the violin. His studies took him to Madrid and Austria. And his career has since taken him across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, playing both with orchestras and as a solo recitalist. Da Costa is the 2010 recipient of the Virginia-Parker Prize – one of many awards he has been given over the years. In 2002, he was awarded the Sylva Gelber Foundation Award for best Canadian artist under 30 years old.

2012 saw him win a JUNO award for “Classical Album of the Year” (for the recordings of the concertos by American composer Michael Daugherty, with the Montreal Symphony under Pedro Halffter). Da Costa has released at least 20 CDs under various record labels over the years. He currently records with Warner Classics International and Acacia Classics/Universal Music Group.

In addition to touring and recording, Da Costa is the Professor of Violin at the Gatineau Music Conservatory (Ottawa).

On April 3rd, Da Costa (accompanied by Hélène Mercier) will perform some Manuel de Falla, Beethoven, and Brahms from our stage. To hear clips of him perform or read more about him, visit his website at http://www.alexandredacosta.com

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