The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra will open its 36th season on Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 8pm with Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, and Holst’s The Planets, conducted by Benjamin Zander with the Radcliffe Choral Society

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The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra Opens 36th Season in Symphony Hall with Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra and Holst’s The Planets

The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra will open its 36th season on Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 8pm with Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, and Holst’s The Planets, conducted by Benjamin Zander with the Radcliffe Choral Society. Mr. Zander also shares his thoughts on the program in a pre-concert talk at 6:45pm. The concert will take place in Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston.

Tickets for the performance range from $25-$105 with $10 tickets available for students. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 617-236-0999 or by visiting

About this program Benjamin Zander says, “I don’t think any season of the BPO has begun in so dramatic a way as this year’s opening concert, which, unusually, we are giving in Symphony Hall. Also sprach Zarathustra and The Planets are two of the most stunningly colorful, variegated, and orchestrally dazzling works in the repertory. The huge and amazing Symphony Hall organ plays a prominent part in both pieces, adding splendor to the kaleidoscope of sounds that Holst and Strauss conjured up – a whole galaxy of orchestral wizardry!”

Praised as “lush” and “passionate” by The Boston Globe, the Boston Philharmonic will open its 36th season with Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30, a tone poem by Richard Strauss. Inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the great tone poem begins with a grandiose passage made universally famous by Stanley Kubrick, who used it in the opening sequence of his movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The tone poem consists of nine sections, linked together in one ongoing movement. Nietzsche’s book contains a series of 80 dialogs on a variety of philosophical topics from which Strauss pulled inspiration. Each movement is named after one of the chapters in the book. Strauss explained, “I meant…to convey in music an idea of the evolution of the human race from its origin, through the various phases of development, religious as well as scientific…The whole symphonic poem is intended as my homage to the genius of Nietzsche.ʺ

  1. Einleitung, oder Sonnenaufgang (Introduction, or Sunrise)
  2. Von den Hinterweltlern (On the Afterworldly)
  3. Von der großen Sehnsucht (On the Great Longing)
  4. Von den Freuden- und Leidenschaften (On Enjoying and Suffering the Passions)
  5. Das Grablied (The Tomb Song)
  6. Von der Wissenschaft (On Science)
  7. Der Genesende (The Convalescent)
  8. Das Tanzlied (The Dancing Song)
  9. Nachtwandlerlied (Song of the Night Wanderer)

The seven movements that comprise Holst’s The Planets are scored for large orchestra and, in the last movement, female chorus. The composer wrote, “These pieces were suggested by the astrological significance of the planets. There is no program music in them, neither have they any connection with the deities of classical mythology bearing the same names. If any guide to the music is required, the subtitle to each piece will be found sufficient, especially if it be used in a broad sense. For instance, Jupiter brings jollity in the ordinary sense, and also the more ceremonial type of rejoicing associated with religions or national festivities. Saturn brings not only physical decay, but also a vision of fulfillment. Mercury is the symbol of the mind.”

  1. Mars, the Bringer of War
  2. Venus, the Bringer of Peace
  3. Mercury, the Winged Messenger
  4. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
  5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
  6. Uranus, the Magician
  7. Neptune, the Mystic

The Radcliffe Choral Society, founded in 1899, is one of the oldest and most preeminent collegiate women’s choirs in the nation. Performing distinctive literature from the Renaissance to the present, this 60-voice choir tours domestically each year and internationally every four years, most recently to the Balkans, Western Europe, South America, South Africa, and Costa Rica. They will join the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra from off stage in the final movement of The Planets, ‘Neptune’.


Benjamin Zander is the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and a guest conductor around the world. With London’s famed Philharmonia Orchestra he is recording the complete cycle of Mahler symphonies, recordings that have been received with extraordinary critical acclaim both for the performance and Zander’s now famous full-length disc explaining the music for the lay listener. Their recordings of Mahler 9th and Bruckner’s 5th Symphony were nominated for Grammys for Best Orchestral Performance. Their latest recording, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, was nominated for a Grammy in 2014.

In 1967, Mr. Zander joined the faculty at New England Conservatory, where he taught an interpretation class, conducted the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted the conservatory orchestras. For 30 years he was the Artistic Director of the joint program between New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and The Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick, Massachusetts.

Mr. Zander is one of the most sought after speakers in the world. He has given both the opening and the closing Keynote address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where on another occasion he was awarded the Crystal award for “outstanding contributions in the Arts and international relations”. In 2002 he was awarded the “Caring Citizen of the Humanities” Award by the International Council for Caring Communities at the United Nations. In honor of his 70th birthday, and 45 years of teaching, he was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the New England Conservatory. His partner Rosamund Zander and he have collaborated on a best-selling book, “The Art of Possibility” which has been translated into fifteen languages.

About the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra:

The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, founded by Benjamin Zander in 1979, features professional, student, and amateur musicians. One of Boston’s premier orchestras, the Boston Philharmonic follows a vision of passionate music making without boundaries by presenting top-notch music in a manner that both aficionados and the casual listener can enjoy.

The orchestra’s season includes performances at Symphony Hall, New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, and Sanders Theatre at Harvard University. The Philharmonic performs with a wide range of soloists from highly gifted performers at the start of their international careers such as Stefan Jackiw, Gabriela Montero and Caitlin Tully, to world-famous artists like Yo-Yo Ma, Alexander Baillie, Russell Sherman, Jon Kimura Parker and Kim Kashkashian and legendary masters such as Ivry Gitlis, Denes Zsigmondy, Georgy Sandor, Leonard Shure and Oscar Shumsky. The Philharmonic has released five critically acclaimed recordings, including works by Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mahler, Shostakovich and Ravel.

The orchestra presents innovative pre-concert talks with the conductor, Benjamin Zander. Zander has a unique approach to explaining classical music, and his intense passion for the art form attracts hundreds of attendees for each talk.


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