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Déjà Vu All Over Again: BSO Announces Tanglewood’s 75th Season

The Boston Symphony Orchestra heads west to the Berkshires every summer, but this July marks a milestone season — Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary.

On Thursday the organization announced details of its summer-long anniversary celebration, which aims to highlight some of the most memorable moments from Tanglewood’s history.

To kick it all off on July 6, the BSO’s musicians will perform an all-Beethoven program, just as their predecessors did for the very first concert staged at Tanglewood in 1937.

The opening-night performance, directed by Christoph von Dohnanyi (a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center in 1952) will include Beethoven’s “Leonore” Overture No. 3, Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” and Symphony No. 5.

The concert will also be broadcast on BSO.org — a first for the orchestra. Throughout the season fans can download 75 free digital music streams of archived Tanglewood performances. The BSO will offer one standout piece each day of the summer, beginning June 20.

In another déjà vu moment, the BSO will present an all-Wagner program on July 21, including “Tristan und Isolde,” “Siegfried,” “Die Walkure,” “Parsifal” and “Tannhäuser.” Wagner expert Asher Fisch directs.

Like the all-Beethoven opener, this program is meant to take audiences back to Tanglewood’s first season, although when Wagner performed 75 summers ago it was a disaster.

On Aug. 12, 1937, a spectacular, thunderous downpour shut the concert down three times because the tent over the musicians’ heads sprung a string of leaks. Ultimately, the “Rienzi” piece was cut in length on-the-fly because the quieter sections could not be heard through the pounding rainstorm.

But, as the story goes, members of the audience rose to the occasion, pledging to pitch in funds to ensure the construction of a permanent, weather-proof music pavilion. The following summer, in 1938, the Tanglewood Music Shed was christened. It eventually was renamed to honor Tanglewood’s founder and famed conductor, Serge Koussevitzky.

Other highlights for the summer 2011 program at Tanglewood include:

  • Eight premieres of brand new works by composers such as Michael Gandolfi, John Harbison, André Previn, Gunther Schuller and Edgar Meyer.
  • Film composer and Boston Pops laureate conductor John Williams’s 80th birthday.
  • Appearances by Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Leonard Slatkin, the Mark Morris Dance Group, Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and James Taylor.
  • Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart will lead his musicians through a show featuring Bernadette Peters.
  • German violin prodigy Augustin Hadelich.

And, of course, Tanglewood will feature a long list of guest conductors, keeping audiences guessing as to whether any of them will eventually win the job of BSO music director, formerly held by maestro James Levine.

For a full list visit the BSO website.

This program aired on November 17, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Andrea Shea Twitter Senior Arts Reporter
Andrea Shea is WBUR's arts reporter.

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