LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall

© Matthew Weinreb

LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall

© Matthew Weinreb

LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall

© Matthew Weinreb

© Matthew Weinreb

Thank you for joining us.

It is a real joy to see the London Symphony Orchestra return to concert performances at LSO St Luke's this autumn. A warm welcome to the numerous guest conductors and artists who will join the LSO in the Jerwood Hall over the coming months, and welcome back to our family of conductors: Sir Simon Rattle, Gianandrea Noseda and François-Xavier Roth.

It is a pleasure to invite you to watch and listen today. I hope you enjoy the performance, and that you are able to join us again soon.

Kathryn McDowell CBE DL; Managing Director

Kathryn McDowell CBE DL; Managing Director

Sunday 13 September 2020
Milhaud, George Walker, Beethoven

Milhaud La création du monde
George Walker Sinfonia No 4, ‘Strands’ (UK premiere)
Beethoven Symphony No 6, ‘Pastoral’

Sir Simon Rattle conductor
London Symphony Orchestra

Visit our website for information on how we are ensuring activity at our venue LSO St Luke’s is COVID-19 secure.

The support of our audience has truly never been more important for the Orchestra and its world-class artistic programme. By supporting us now and in the months to come, you will help us to continue to adapt our music-making and activities to meet the challenges of these times, including sharing the gift of music with our local communities through our LSO Discovery programme.

The London Symphony Orchestra is hugely grateful to all the Patrons and Friends, Corporate Partners, Trusts and Foundations, and other supporters who make its work possible.

The LSO’s return to work is supported by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and DnaNudge. 

This performance is generously supported by our Technical Partner, Yamaha Professional Audio.

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the London Symphony Orchestra as they revisit Milhaud and Beethoven, and rediscover one of the greats of American music. In Milhaud's ballet La création du monde, we hear the influence that jazz music had on the Frenchman during his tour of America in 1922, the same year in which the world welcomed George Walker, who would become the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for composing in 1996. Sir Simon Rattle has chosen Walker's Sinfonia No 4, 'Strand', describing the work as ‘deeply felt, extraordinarily well put together and absolutely his own voice'. Beethoven’s much-loved Symphony No 6, 'Pastoral' closes this concert in celebration of the joy in returning to concert halls and reuniting with colleagues and friends.


La création du monde


1. Overture           
2. Chaos before Creation            
3. The slowly lifting darkness, the creation of trees, plants, insects, birds and beasts     
4. Man and woman created           
5. The desire of man and woman          
6. The man and woman kiss

From the end of World War I, American popular musicians, many of them African-American, had begun to win acclaim in allied capitals, above all in progressively-minded Paris. Fewer Europeans experienced American jazz at its source but Darius Milhaud was one. Touring America in 1922, he frequented nightclubs and ‘speakeasies’ (illicit clubs where alcohol was dispensed during the Prohibition years) when, as he recalled in his memoirs, ‘Harlem had not yet been discovered by the snobs and aesthetes: we [Milhaud and the singer Yvonne George] were the only white folk there’. Milhaud’s ballet La création du monde was composed on his return to a pseudo-African scenario by the surrealist Blaise Cendrars with designs by Fernand Léger. The prelude, despite its jazz band scoring, is serenely Bachian in tone, the main body of the work, in which a seething mass of weirdly costumed dancers represents the primal soup from which life gradually erupts, is a sort of jazz fugue.

Note by David Gutman

Darius Milhaud

Darius Milhaud was a French-Jewish composer and teacher, who studied in Paris under Charles Widor and Vincent d'Indy and was a member of the famed group of composers Les Six, which included Satie and Poulenc.

Having discovered jazz on his trip to the US in 1922 (the inspiration behind today's programme), Milhaud later emigrated to America in 1940, where he secured a teaching post in Oakland, California. From 1947 to 1971 he taught alternate years in California and the Paris Conservatoire, until poor health caused him to retire. Milhaud passed away not long after, in Geneva, Switzerland.

George Walker

Sinfonia No 4, 'Strands'

2012; UK Premiere

'I thought, what a wonderful time now to rediscover the music of the greatest African American composer'
Sir Simon Rattle

Sinfonia No 4 was commissioned by a consortium of American orchestras and received its premiere by the New Jersey Symphony in March 2012. It is a concise work in one movement, Walker himself describing its as 'complex, intense and compact', going on to say that he wanted to compose a work that 'was more than an overture or extended fanfare'. Its title 'Strands' refers to the interplay of several melodic elements that are woven together, in themes that are full of drama, suspense and energy, and moments of release in phrases taken from the spirituals There is a Balm in Gilead and the affirming Roll, Jordan, Roll. This quote is repeated in the piano and is combined with a similarly stated rising bass line played by trombones and tuba.

George Walker

Born in Washington, George Walker began to study piano at the age of five. His groundbreaking career took off as a young piano virtuoso when he was admitted to Oberlin College on a scholarship following his first public recital at the age of 14. Graduating with the highest honors in his class, he was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music, and became the first black graduate to receive Artist Diplomas in both piano and composition. Later that year, he made his New York Town Hall debut and appeared as soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 with the Philadelphia Orchestra. After further study in France in 1947, hespent several years as a touring virtuoso in Europe and America. Walker later returned to France to study composition with Nadia Boulanger 

In later life, one of Walker's many honours included winning the Pulitzer Prize for Composition in 1996, the first African-American to do so. Over 20 years of composing and educating later, this great American composer died at the age of 96.


Symphony No 6 'Pastoral'


1. Allegro ma non troppo (Pleasant, cheerful feelings awakened on arrival in the countryside)
2. Andante molto moto
(Scene by the brook)
3. Allegro
(Merry gathering of country folk)
4. Allegro
(Thunder Storm)
5. Allegretto
(Shepherd’s song: benevolent feelings, combined with thanks to the deity, after the storm)

Beethoven loved nature and the open air. He spent most of his summers away from Vienna in the country retreats of Heiligenstadt, Mödling and Baden, where he would walk the woods and fields notebook in hand. ‘No one can love the countryside as much as I do,’ he once said, ‘for surely woods, trees and rocks produce the echo which man desires to hear.’

But nature was not just a balm for the senses; for Beethoven it was evidence of the Creator’s hand. Raised on the tolerant attitudes of the Enlightenment, he had little interest in conventional formal religion, and it was in the outdoors, amidst the wonders of the natural world, that he found himself closest to God. He was hardly alone in that – such feelings were part of the spirit of the early Romantic age – but it was perhaps his unique placing at the threshold of the Classical and Romantic eras in music that allowed such a work as the ‘Pastoral’ Symphony to achieve greatness.

‘More an expression of feeling than painting’, said Beethoven, and it is true that, while the atmosphere of the countryside pervades every bar, the Sixth Symphony can be fully enjoyed without resorting to mental pictures of shepherds, peasants and cuckoos.

An excerpt from notes by Lindsay Kemp

Ludwig van Beethoven

In his early twenties Beethoven left his native Bonn for Vienna, where he became established as a composer, piano virtuoso and improviser of great ability. Largely following the Classical models of Haydn and Mozart in his 'early' period, he recognised signs of his impending deafness as early as 1796.

In 1802, he revealed his suffering and alienation, his thoughts of suicide and his creative resolve in his Heiligenstadt Testament. His 'middle' period was characterised by a broadening of form and an extension of harmony to suit his proto-Romantic expression, spawning the Symphonies Nos 2 to 8, notable piano sonatas, several string quartets and his only opera, Fidelio.

He produced less music in his ‘late’ period (from 1813) but his last years saw his mould-breaking ‘Choral’ Symphony and an exploration of increasing profundity in the more intimate mediums of the string quartet and piano sonata.

Artist Biographies

Sir Simon Rattle

Conductor Sir Simon Rattle

© Oliver Helbig

© Oliver Helbig

Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. In September 2002 Sir Simon became Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker, where he remained until June 2018. In September 2017, Simon took up the position of Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

For some years Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, in 1980 he became Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, stepping up to Music Director from September 1990 until August 1998. He is also Founding Patron of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and since the early 1990s, has been a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Read Sir Simon Rattle's full biography on his agents' website

London Symphony Orchestra

On Stage:

Players of the London Symphony Orchestra

© Ranald Mackechnie

© Ranald Mackechnie

Carmine Lauri

First Violins
Clare Duckworth
Ginette Decuyper
Laura Dixon
Gerald Gregory
Maxine Kwok
William Melvin
Claire Parfitt
Laurent Quenelle
Harriet Rayfield
Sylvain Vasseur
Iwona Muszynska

Second Violins
Julian Gil Rodriguez
Sarah Quinn
Miya Vaisanen
David Ballesteros
Matthew Gardner
Naoko Keatley
Alix Lagasse
Belinda McFarlane
Andrew Pollock
Paul Robson

Edward Vanderspar
Gillianne Haddow
German Clavijo
Stephen Doman
Carol Ella
Robert Turner

Tim Gill
Jennifer Brown
Noel Bradshaw
Hilary Jones
Laure Le Dantec

Double Basses
Colin Paris
Patrick Laurence
Matthew Gibson
José Moreira

Gareth Davies
Clare Findlater

Sharon Williams

Olivier Stankiewicz
Rosie Jenkins

Chris Richard
Chi-Yu Mo

Bass Clarinet
Katy Ayling

Simon Haram

Daniel Jemison
Dominic Tyler

Contra Bassoon
Dominic Morgan

Timothy Jones
Angela Barnes
Alexander Edmundson
Flora Bain

James Fountain
Catherine Knight
Niall Keatley

Peter Moore
James Maynard

Bass Trombone
Dan West

Ben Thomson

Nigel Thomas

Neil Percy
David Jackson
Sam Walton
Tom Edwards
Paul Stoneman

Bryn Lewis

Elizabeth Burley

LSO St Luke's exterior

© Neil Wilkinson

LSO St Luke's exterior

© Neil Wilkinson

LSO St Luke's exterior

© Neil Wilkinson

© Neil Wilkinson

© Neil Wilkinson

© Neil Wilkinson

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Keep Exploring

Keep scrolling for details of forthcoming events...

Today's concert will be available on demand on Marquee TV from 19 September

Wednesday 23 September, 6.30pm
Strauss, Hannah Kendall & Bartók

Dvořák Slavonic Dances Op 46
Tippett Piano Concerto
Beethoven Symphony No 5

Sir Simon Rattle conductor
Peter Donohoe piano
London Symphony Orchestra

Tickets on sale on Monday 21 September at 6.30pm