Stephen Hough (credit Sim Canetty-Clarke)

The BSO are ‘Finding Answers’ in Exeter

Beethoven, Ives and Brahms at The Great Hall, Exeter
Thursday 15 March 2018

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, under guest conductor Thierry Fischer, will perform a concert featuring works by Beethoven, Ives and Brahms at The Great Hall, Exeter on Thursday 15 March at 7.30pm.

The BSO will also be joined by pianist Stephen Hough, who will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5 Emperor. Over the course of his career, Stephen has distinguished himself as a true master of his instrument, as well as securing a reputation as a writer and composer, which has earned him a multitude of awards and a long-standing international following.

Beethoven wrote his final Piano Concerto, Emperor, at the height of his compositional powers, but also a time of personal and political turmoil. This work is known for its grandeur, bold melodies and heroic spirit, and is proof of the tenderness and beauty that flows through Beethoven’s music.

Apparently Piano Concerto No.5 got its nickname from a comment made by one of Napoleon’s officers who was stationed in Vienna at the time of the piece’s premiere in 1812: “It was an emperor of a concerto” the man supposedly exclaimed.

Brahms’ chamber music output was prolific but he really struggled when it came to composing a symphony. It took him nearly fifteen years to compose his first symphony, with frequent revisions made to the score over that period.

The symphony he finally did produce was described by Hans von Bülow as “Beethoven’s Tenth” while other critics pronounced it “the greatest first symphony in the history of music.” At the age of 43, Brahms finally produced a symphony that both he and his public were happy with. Thankfully they didn’t have to wait as long for his next symphony, it arrived the following year.

The Unanswered Question is a work by American composer Charles Ives and is a musical palette cleanser for this concert. Ives referred to this work as a “cosmic landscape” in which strings portray “the silences of the druids”.

Over that quiet background the solo trumpet phrase asks “the perennial question of existence.” In response a quartet of winds Ives called the “fighting answers”, seeks a reply, becoming more agitated and frustrated, until the trumpet states the question one final time, only to be answered by silence.

Ticket Prices: £40 – £16 (concessions available)

To Book Tickets: Please visit or visit or call the Exeter Northcott Theatre Box Office on 01392 726 363


(image: Stephen Hough. Courtesy of Sim Canetty-Clarke)


Philip R Buttall

Philip Buttall

Philip Buttall

Philip R Buttall was the Classical Music Writer at Plymouth Herald from 1997-2017. He is a sought-after piano teacher, composer and arranger, and online concert and CD reviewer. Further information and contact details are available at
Philip Buttall