Blog / Brahms' Third Symphony

Brahms' Third Symphony

Posted on 29 Jul 2015 by Leo Messias

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ACO Artistic Director and Lead Violin Richard Tognetti directs the Australian Chamber Orchestra. 

Johannes Brahms’ colossal Third Symphony is widely considered to be one of the greatest symphonies of all time. And with its sweeping lyrical string lines and contrasting evocative key changes, Brahms’ Third Symphony is considered the most finely crafted of his symphonies.

Filled with shades of light and darkness, conflicts and warm resolutions, turbulence and gentle sentiment, the symphony’s intense melodic depth, particularly the Poco Allegretto third movement in C minor, has continued to retain its popularity since its premiere in 1883.

Australian Chamber Orchestra Artistic Director Richard Tognetti believes that this symphony will showcase the diverse breadth and strength of the ACO.

“Brahms’ third symphony is an unrivaled blend of the daring and the familiar. The ACO string ensemble is well suited to perform Brahms’s symphonic repertoire, maintaining a consummate balance with the winds, brass and timpani. Brahms’ highly contrapuntal musical lines are kept clear and vivid.”

“This is Brahms’ shortest symphony and when first performed awarded him the biggest success of his career with critics and audiences strongly acclaiming his enduring genius. In particular, the third movement with its melancholic 3 beat lilt is one of the most beloved popular works in the history of all music. Even artists such as Frank Sinatra and Santana have reinterpreted it in unexpected and novel ways,” Tognetti said.

By using the technique of chiaroscuro, (the strong contrast between light and dark, demonstrated in this piece by contrasting minor against major keys), the piece evokes drama and strikes a brooding musical mood against scintillating lightness and an afterglow.

Five years after his second symphony, and the same year as Wagner’s death, the premiere of the third symphony caused quite a stir. Hans Richter, who conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, for the premiere of the symphony, proclaimed it to be Brahms’ Eroica.

Influential music critic Eduard Hanslick said at the time: “Many music lovers will prefer the titanic force of the First Symphony – others, the untroubled charm of the Second, but the Third strikes me as being artistically the most nearly perfect.”

Drawing together 50 talented musicians (tripling the size of the Orchestra) Brahms 3 is the biggest ACO ensemble for the 2015 season.


#ACO15: Brahms 3 & Mozart Sinfonia Concertante
16-26 August

Discover the ACO in full symphonic force, directed by Richard Tognetti.

Experience the ACO in grand style in a program that includes Brahm’s monumental Third Symphony, Mozart’s dazzling Sinfonia Concertante and The Magic Flute Overture.

MOZART The Magic Flute Overture
MOZARTSinfonia concertante in E-flat major
BRAHMS Symphony No.3 in F major

BOOK NOW: ACO.COM.AU/BRAHMS3