Issued: 19 January 2009


Event Info

Arnold Schoenberg’s name can still strike fear into the most stalwart classical music lover’s heart. Such is his reputation as a pioneer of 20th-century modernism that the inclusion of his music in concert programmes can clear a concert hall. Yet his early works, such as the dramatic song-cycle, Gurrelieder, are full of gorgeous melodies and lavish harmonies.

Now Symphony Hall has grasped the nettle and is making its concertgoers a cast-iron promise for its performance of Gurrelieder on 27 February: satisfaction guaranteed or your money back – if you love late romantic music, then you’ll love this!

“We’re not suggesting that Gurrelieder is an entry point into classical music for someone who has not tried it before,” says Andrew Jowett, Director of Town Hall and Symphony Hall, “but we are convinced that this gorgeous late-romantic piece will appeal to those who already enjoy, say, Wagner, Mahler and Richard Strauss. People should not be put off by the name Schoenberg: we’re making this promise because we have absolute confidence that in the hands of such fantastic performers this is going to be a lavish and hugely enjoyable musical experience. We?re making this offer on the basis of trust with our loyal and discerning classical audience.”

Premiered in 1913, Gurrelieder?s gargantuan proportions – quadruple-strength choir and vast orchestral forces – make performances of this work an almost once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Birmingham had to wait 81 years to hear it for the first time; until Symphony Hall was built there was no venue in the city large enough to host it. Over the course of 100 minutes, four solo singers and a speaker relate an epic supernatural tale of King Waldemar and his love for Tove, resident of castle Gurre. From the sumptuous music of the opening to the fantastical Wild Hunt of the Spectres, this thrilling, kaleidoscopic score never lets the listener go.

The Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, performs Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder at Symphony Hall, Birmingham on Friday 27 February with soloists including Stig Andersen, Andreas Conrad and Soile Isokoski. This is the only performance outside London. For further details from Town Hall & Symphony Hall Box Office on 0121 780 3333 or


Note to Editors

?This was the sort of concert Symphony Hall was designed for – Schoenberg?s huge dramatic song-cycle Gurrelieder…” Birmingham Mail, Sep 1994

Friday 27 February 2009, 7.30pm Symphony Hall
Philharmonia Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
Ladies of the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
Men of the Philharmonia Voices

Soloists: Soile Isokoski Tove, Monica Groop Waldtaube, Stig Andersen Waldemar, Andreas Conrad Klaus-Narr, Ralf Lukas Bauer, Barbara Sukowa, speaker
6.15pm free pre-concert talk: Love and Death in Gurrelieder
Tickets: £5-£37.50 (with concessions)
Link to event page:—gurrelieder

Gurrelieder Guarantee:
1. Applies to all tickets, including discounts.
2. Does not apply to tickets already purchased.
3. Applies only to face value of tickets for Ultimate Romantics 2: Gurrelieder, Fri 27 Feb at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

Birmingham premiere of Gurrelieder took place on 22 & 24 September 1994 by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and Philharmonia Chorus, conducted by Simon Rattle with soloists including Rita Hunter, John Mitchinson and Christine Cairns

Link to Philharmonia?s City of Dreams: Vienna 1900-1935 Festival including more about Schoenberg, Gurrelieder, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, plus films and downloads, visit:

Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a registered charity. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of over 600 concerts and events a year, designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and a thriving education/community department reaches a further 20,000 people of all ages.

Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).