Anniversary 20 – Conducted by Ben van Kleef – July 2024

Celebrate two decades of music-making with the Lismore Symphony Orchestra at our 20th Anniversary Concert series!Join in the nostalgia as we revisit cherished pieces from past concerts, including Beethoven’s dramatic Fifth Symphony from our inaugural 2004 performance, the exquisite Largo from the New World Symphony by Dvorak and Schubert’s passionate Unfinished Symphony. Among a selection of compositions we have not yet played, we’ll be showcasing the ethereal Gymnopedies 1 and 3 by Satie.

This concert stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of our musical journey as the orchestra goes from strength to strength.

Saturday July 27th 2024 7.30pm
Sunday July 28th 2024 3pm
St.Mary’s Church, Norton Street, Ballina

LSO Anniversary

Programme Notes

5th Symphony in C minor Mvts 1 and 4 – Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony was composed in his mid-thirties while living in Vienna and struggling with his worsening deafness. Beethoven spent four years composing this masterpiece, alongside other works, during a turbulent era with Napoleon’s occupation of Vienna in 1805 and Austria’s subsequent failed attempts at revolution. He completed it in 1808 concurrently with the Pastoral Symphony. Groundbreaking in both its technical brilliance and emotional depth, the Fifth Symphony has profoundly influenced generations of composers.

The symphony’s famous and foreboding opening four notes are possibly the most recognised in musical history. Beethoven’s friend, Anton Schindler, claimed that Beethoven described the notes as ‘Fate knocking at the door’. Schindler’s reliability is questionable, however, as he was known to have forged entries in Beethoven’s conversation books which were used when the composer could no longer hear. An alternative interpretation comes from Beethoven’s student, Carl Czerny, who claimed the motif was inspired by the call of the Yellow-hammer bird Beethoven heard while walking in Vienna’s Prater Park. Regardless of its true origin, the symphony has become widely known as the ‘Fate Symphony’.

The symphony premiered in a four-hour concert conducted by Beethoven in a freezing hall after just one rehearsal. Unsurprisingly, it was not initially well received. However, a couple of years later, a performance reviewed by the eminent author and artist E.T.A. Hoffman in the ‘General Musical Journal’ praised its profound impact:

‘Glowing beams shoot through this realm’s deep night, and we become aware of immense shadows, which rise and fall, close in on us, and wipe us out and destroy everything within us except the pain of endless longing – a longing in which every pleasure that rose up in jubilant tones sinks and succumbs, and only through this pain, which, while consuming but not destroying love, hope, and joy, wants to burst our breasts with a full-voiced harmony of all passions – do we live on as delighted visionaries!’

The first movement, Allegro con brio, is set in the stormy and heroic key of C minor and follows the sonata form. The motif of the four famous notes – three short and one long – varies between foreboding and triumphant. This movement is dramatic and full of passion, punctuated in the middle bya poignant oboe solo, the eye in the surrounding storm.

The symphony concludes with a triumphant fourth movement, Allegro, in C major, diverging from the typical symphonic structure of ending in the initial key. Beethoven himself said, ‘Many assert that every minor piece must end in the minor. Nego! … Joy follows sorrow, sunshine – rain’. This movement, also in sonata form, culminates in an energetic coda. Beethoven introduced French military instruments – the trombone, contrabassoon, and piccolo – into this movement, marking the first use of the piccolo and trombone in a symphony.


Beethoven: Eve of the Battle of Austerlitz 1805 – Bacler d’Albe

Jacques Offenbach (1819 – 1880) – Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld

Starting out as a gifted cellist, Offenbach joined the Paris Conservatoire aged 14 but left a year later to join the orchestra of the Opéra-Comique. known for his sense of humour and practical jokes, he evolved into a renowned composer of satirical operettas.

His first full-length operetta, ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’, premiered in 1858 at his own theatre in Paris. This two-act operetta, based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is gloriously imaginative parody of classic mythology, mocking the regime of the french Emperor at the time, Napoleon III, and the sacrosanct music of Gluck’s opera ‘Orfeo’.

His irreverent portrayal of the Greek gods was shocking at the time, creating a sensation. Negative reviews in some of the papers only increased public interest, making the production a great success. ‘Le Figaro’ praised the staging and wrote that it was ‘a fantasy show, which has all the variety, all the surprises of fairy-opera’. The Dictionnaire des Opéras (1881) described the operetta as ‘a coarse and grotesque parody’ full of ‘vulgar and indecent scenes’ that ‘give off an unhealthy smell’.

In 1874, ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ was revised into a four-act version with a larger orchestra, achieving even greater success.

Approximately fifteen years after Offenbach’s death, the ‘Galop infernal’ that closes the operetta was adopted by the Moulin Rouge as the music for their can-can and became one of the most famous pieces of music in the world.

The famous overture that the LSO will perform was not part of the 1858 or 1874 scores, but was in fact arranged by Austrian musician Carl Binder for the operetta’s first performance in 1860 in Vienna.


In this version of the myth, Orpheus is not the son of Apollo, but a violin teacher whose dislike of his beautiful wife, Eurydice, is mutual. Both are in love with someone else and want to abandon their marriage after they make this discovery, but Public Opinion will not allow it. Eurydice’s lover is Pluto, God of the Underworld, disguised as a shepherd. Orpheus and Pluto conspire to kill Eurydice with a poisonous snake bite, freeing Orpheus and enabling Pluto to take her to the Underworld.

Eurydice finds death to be quite tolerable when one is in love with the God of Death. The scandal catches up with Orpheus and Public Opinion forces him to rescue his wife or else his violin teaching career could be over.

Orpheus travels to Mount Olympus where the Gods are sleeping, and pretends to mourn his wife by singing a little of ‘Che faro senza Euridice’ from Gluck’s opera, ‘Orfeo’. Pluto doesn’t want to give up Eurydice, so Jupiter, the King of gods, goes to the Underworld, accompanied by all the other gods (who see it as a holiday) to resolve the issue.

Jupiter rescues Eurydice but decides to keep her as his lover. The gods are enjoying a wild party hosted by Pluto. Jupiter’s plans to sneak her out are foiled by calls for a dance. Jupiter insists on a minuet, but the other gods find it boring, so the lively ‘Galop infernal’ (can-can) is played instead, accompanied by energetic dancing.

Orpheus arrives with Public Opinion to rescue Eurydice, but he must not look back at her or he will lose her forever. A lightning bolt thrown by Jupiter causes him to do so, and she vanishes. Jupiter gives her to Bacchus as a priestess. Pluto has tired of her, and despite Public Opinion’s disapproval, Orpheus is happily free of her at last.


The overture opens with the melody of a song sung by all the gods and goddesses protesting the tedious, idyllic life they are enduring on Mount Olympus where they’ve tired of drinking nectar and ambrosia.

A lively melody plays introducing the scene where Pluto meets Jupiter at Olympus.

Next, is a playful song teasing Jupiter, the king of the gods (a bit of a player), for the various disguises he has used to seduce multiple women.

The Allegretto, beginning with a beautiful oboe solo, introduces Pluto, God of the Underworld, singing about his seduction of Eurydice while disguised as a shepherd, and the subsequent revelation of his true identity. Pluto has orchestrated a plot with Orpheus to kill Eurydice with a poisonous snake bite, ridding Orpheus of his unwanted wife. Pluto is then able to take her to the Underworld with him.

Next, the Lento section features Eurydice’s happy dying lament after being bitten by the snake.

Following this is the dramatic introduction to the party Pluto has thrown for all the Olympian gods where they’re enjoying their holiday in Hell.

The next Allegretto is a beautiful violin solo played by Orpheus, accompanied by Eurydice’s chagrin about how boring and irritating the violin is, and begging for their marriage to end.

Finally, the overture culminates with the famous ‘Galop infernal’ (can-can), danced by all the gods at the party in the Underworld at the operetta’s end.


Offenbach: Original poster for 1878 production of Orphee aux Enfers

Gymnopedies 1 and 3, Gnossienne 1 – Erik Satie (1866-1925) 

At 22 years old, Erik Satie; eccentric, bohemian, witty and original, composed the hypnotic ‘Trois Gymnopédies’ for piano. It was the height of the Belle Epoque, and Satie believed music needed to be deconstructed before it could be fully reinvented. Satie said: ‘harmony is to have a feeling for tonality… the melody is the idea, the outline; as much as it is the form and the subject matter of a work. The harmony is an illumination, an exhibition of the object, its reflection’.

His compositions often ventured into audacious experimentation with sound combinations, distorted lines, and amorphous rhythms. In contrast, the ‘Gymnopédies’ and ‘Gnossiennes’ exude an exquisite, serene beauty aiming for simplicity and clarity. Drawing inspiration from Gregorian chant, Satie sought an economy of expression that seemed outdated during the late Romantic period, yet hinted at the future.

The ‘Gymnopédies’, characterised by their slow waltz tempo, draw their name from the ‘Gymnopaedia’, an ancient Greek festival where naked young men performed dances and exercises. Satie may have found the term in Dominique Mondo’s ‘Dictionnaire de Musique’, where gymnopédie dance, accompanied by song, which youthful Spartan maidens danced on specific occasions’

Satie had a long-standing friendship with Claude Debussy. Soon after they met in 1891, Debussy presented Satie with a copy of his Baudelaire songs in which he’d written, ‘For Erik Satie, gentle medieval musician, strayed into this century for the happiness of his very friendly Claude Debussy’.

By 1897, as Satie’s popularity waned, Debussy, whose popularity was rising, orchestrated ‘Gymnopédies’ Nos. 1 and 3 to draw renewed attention to Satie’s work. This act, intended to support Satie, eventually became a source of tension and jealousy. But from 1910, his unconventional approach and originality became the focus for a group of composers known as Les Six including Poulenc, Honegger and Milhaud.

From 1890 to 1893, Satie composed three ‘Gnossiennes’ for the piano, pieces suffused with the modal harmonies he encountered in Romanian folk and Javanese gamelan music at the 1889 Paris Exhibition. These hauntingly elusive works are characterised by their lack of bar lines and an obsessively regular tempo, with evocative directions such as ‘shining’, ‘from the tip of the thought’ and ‘wonder about yourself’.

Satie may have found the term ‘Gnossienne’ in the 1865 Larousse Dictionary, which refers to the ritual labyrinth dance created by Theseus to celebrate his victory over the Minotaur. Alternatively, he may have derived it from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis, which was implicated in Gnosticism, a sect Satie was involved in at the time, signifying a spiritual knowledge into humanity’s real nature as divine.

‘Gnossienne No. 1’ has been specially arranged for Lismore Symphony Orchestra.


Nymphes Dansant – Constant Montald

Symphony ‘From the New World’ Mvt 2 Largo – Antonin Dvorak

The great Czech composer, Dvorak, was invited to teach music at the National Conservatory in New York from 1892 -1895. During his time there, his goal was to create a distinctly American work.

Although educated at the Prague Conservatory, Dvorak said he learnt from the birds, flowers, trees and God as well as from himself. His greatest joy was to live close to nature. While he drew inspiration from Moravian and Bohemian folk music, his melodies and compositions were entirely original.

During his stay in America, he was very taken by African American and American Indian folk songs. He noted that their musical style was identical and remarkably similar to the national music of Scotland, characterised by ‘a peculiar scale’ – the major and minor pentatonics – and the use of syncopated rhythms. Dvorak proclaimed that American folk music should form the foundation for a distinctly American style of classical music.

As with the music he composed in Bohemia, the melodies in the New World Symphony, though inspired by American folk songs, were entirely his original creation. Dvorak sketched most of the symphony out soon after arriving in New York, later stating that he wouldn’t have written it as he did without seeing for himself the vast American plains, which he visited just three months before its premiere. Regarding American Indian influences, he said they were only in the symphony’s spirit, which was inspired by the contemplation of American Indian legend and romance.

Research by Michael Beckerman in 1992 shows that Dvorak based the second and third movements of the symphony on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic fictional poem, ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ (1855). His research explains how Dvorak’s music symbolises events in the story. Dvorak had read the poem about thirty years before arriving in America and it captivated his imagination with its vivid descriptions of the American landscape and the life of the Obijwe chief Hiawatha, and his love for the beautiful Dacotah maiden, Minnehaha (‘Laughing Water’).

Dvorak explained that the second movement, the Largo, was different from the classical works in this form and was actually a sketch for a longer cantata or opera based on Longfellow’s Hiawatha that never came to fruition. The Largo draws on the section of the poem, ‘Hiawatha’s Wooing’ of Minnehaha.

The first time he saw her, Hiawatha fell in love with Minnehaha. When it came time to marry, years later, he journeyed to the Dacotah lands to woo her. Their mutual love took them back to Hiawatha’s Obijwe lands through a beautiful landscape of forests, mountains and plains, the birds and animals talking to them along the way, and there, they married.

The beginning and end sections of the Largo are in major tonality and most likely depict the couple’s journey through nature, with the famous cor anglais solo evoking the American landscape. Trills from the flute in the final section suggest bird calls, while the staccato melody commencing with the oboe and then taken up by one instrument after another suggests the gradual awakening of animal life on the prairie.

The aching melancholy of the C sharp minor section, marked ‘Un poco piu mosso’, in the middle of the movement cannot be related to any part of ‘Hiawatha’s Wooing’. It is best explained by Minnehaha’s tragic death in winter from famine. As Minehaha lies dying in her wigwam, attended by Hiawatha’s grandmother Nokomis, she has feverish visions of her homeland and of her people, despite Nokomis’ protests, and finally of the spirit of death, Pauguk. She dies calling out her husband’s name while Nokomis wails in mourning. On hearing her calls, Hiawatha returns from hunting to find his beloved dead before him:

‘And his bursting heart within him,Uttered such a cry of anguish, That the forest moaned and shuddered’…

‘Then he sat down, still and speechless, On the bed of Minnehaha’.

According to ‘The Concert Companion’ by Bagar and Biancolli, Dvorak’s student Shelley reported that Dvorak told him the section marked ’Un poco piu mosso’ represented the Indian girl’s sobbing as she bids Hiawatha farewell. Although no published evidence supports this, it seems too specific to be completely fabricated, and if true, may align with the moment Minnehaha calls out Hiawatha’s name just before she dies, even though she is not saying farewell to him in person.

Even without irrefutable evidence, the music itself supports the idea that the minor section is based on Minnehaha’s death. The section begins with a sorrowful melody played by the oboe and flute in unison, then answered by the clarinets, possibly representing the voices of Minnehaha and Nokomis. An emotional crescendo of ascending notes from the flute and oboe that finally fade to nothing embody Hiawatha’s breaking heart on finding his beloved dead. A distinct funeral march follows symbolising Minnehaha’s ceremonial burial in the forest.

Listen to the music. What do you think?


Hiawatha, The Journey Home and Minnehaha’s Death – M.L. Kirk

Unfinished Symphony No.8 in B minor – Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828)

Often considered the first Romantic symphony for its emphasis on lyrical expression within the classical sonata form, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony is admired for its emotional depth, radiating passion and sensitivity.

In gratitude for being made an honorary member of the Graz Musical Society in 1823, Schubert presented the first two movements – an Allegro and Andante – to his friend and president of the society, Anselm Huttenbrenner, the following year. He also provided an incomplete third movement, a Scherzo.

The work was cast aside until 1865 when Huttenbrenner mentioned the symphony in a letter to the Viennese conductor Johan Herbeck. He described it as ‘…a musical treasure, of equal value with the great Symphony in C major (his instrumental swan song) and on a level with any of Beethoven’s symphonies. The only difficulty is that it is unfinished’.

The symphony was performed later that year by Herbeck in London, too late for Schubert, who died at only 31 years old, to hear his masterpiece.

The reason the symphony was not completed is a mystery. Schubert may have felt the tempo and triple meter of the first two movements were too similar, leading him to abandon it. There is, however, a contrast in moods between the first two movements, beginning in B minor with the storm and turbulence of life in the first movement, and resolving with serenity and eternal bliss in the key of E major in the second movement.

Schubert’s livelihood, dependent on his income from composing and teaching, may have gradually pushed the completion of the symphony from his mind.

The LSO will perform the first movement, the Allegro, which opens with an ominous and melancholic mood in the lower strings. Sweet, lyrical melodies interweave with stormy, turbulent passages throughout the movement, exuding warmth and tenderness and evoking a sense of struggle and dangerous passion.

(The artwork of Hero and Leander has been chosen due to their story of forbidden love, full of turmoil and moments of bliss)


The Parting of Hero and Leander – William Etty

Forty Reasons to be Cheerful – Graeme Koehne (born 1956)

This lively piece captures the vibrant atmosphere of a carnival with its infectious rhythms and playful melodies. Composed to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Adelaide Festival Centre by one of Australia’s leading compositional figures, Graeme Koehne delivers a work that is both celebratory and reflective of his evolving aesthetic.

‘Forty Reasons to be Cheerful’ showcases Koehne’s creative exploration of the Quotidian aesthetic, a concept he has been developing over recent years with guidance from his colleague, Professor Mark Carroll. In this composition, Koehne takes seemingly mundane (everyday) musical materials – a hackneyed harmonic progression widely used in popular music since the 1950s – and transforms them through continuous variation and elaboration, keeping the listener engaged, as familiar themes are transformed and reimagined throughout the composition. The piece references stylistic features from the once-ubiquitous light orchestral pop music of the late 20th century, blending the familiar with the innovative.

As the work was composed to accompany a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Koehne sought to celebrate the often overlooked everyday, earthy features of this iconic work: simple folk-like melodies, marches and references to contemporary popular culture.

Koehne’s composition stands out for its ability to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. By taking familiar harmonic progressions and infusing them with new life, he creates a piece that is both nostalgic and fresh. The music evokes a sense of joy and celebration, perfectly suited for the milestone anniversary it commemorates.


Carnival – Fedor Fogt

Capriol Suite – Peter Warlock (1894 – 1930)

Peter Warlock, born Philip Heseltine, came from a wealthy London family and intermittently worked as a music critic. Although he played the piano, his skills were modest, and despite lacking formal compositional training, wrote around 150 songs, a few choral pieces, and some instrumental works.

As a teenager, Warlock was captivated by the composer Delius, with whom he became friends. His musical style was later influenced by Fauré, Debussy, and Bartók. His friendship with composer Bernard van Dieren significantly improved his harmonic texture, transforming the thick, muddy chords of his early songs into more refined and organised harmonies. Warlock’s interest in Celtic languages and culture during his 1917 stay in Ireland, introduced new elements to his compositions. During a period of unemployment after resigning from his music critic job at the Daily Mail in 1918, he studied and edited Elizabethan songs at the British Museum.

Warlock adopted his pseudonym in 1918 after a significant falling out with a publishing company that had rejected the works of his friend van Dieren. Needing to publish his own songs, he used the alias to bypass the company’s disapproval and ensure his compositions were accepted.

The Capriol Suite was composed while living in a Bohemian household of artists, musicians and friends in Eynsford, Kent from 1925-1928. Despite all the wild parties at the weekends, he was rather productive.

Originally written for piano duet in 1926, he later arranged the Capriol Suite for string orchestra and full orchestra. Though it was inspired by a 1588 book on Renaissance dances by Thoinot Arbeau called ‘Orchesographie’, original.

The suite’s name derives from the book which was written in the form of a conversation between the author, Arbeau, and a lawyer called Capriol, who wanted to learn to dance.

The six movements based on these sixteenth century dance tunes are:

Basse-Danse: A ‘low dance’ in triple time and moderate tempo, where the dance partners move quietly and gracefully in a slow gliding or walking motion without leaving the floor.

Pavane: A slow and solemn processional dance
Tordion: A lively triple metre dance with a pattern of five steps fitted to six beats ending with a jump on the last beat.

Bransles: Danced by a chain of dancers, usually in couples, with linked arms or holding hands. The dance alternated a number of larger sideways steps to the left (often four) with the same number of smaller steps to the right so that the chain moved gradually to the left. The name comes from the french verb branler, to sway.

Pieds-en-l’air: (feet in the air) A dance move that is part of the Galliard dance. Its four hopping steps and one high leap, performed over two bars of 3/4 time, permitted athletic gentlemen to show off for their partners.

Mattachins: A dance in duple time where men in gilded cardboard armour danced with swords and small shields with clash of swords onto shields.


A Pavane – Edwin Abbey