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The Fate Symphony

Iceland Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven’s Fifth — the Fate Symphony — and a vibrant concerto performed by one of the world’s foremost harpists

Ruth Gipps: Knight in Armour
Alberto Ginastera: Harp Concerto
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony no. 5

Bertrand de Billy

Xavier de Maistre


Beethoven’s “Fate” Symphony is one of the best-known musical compositions of all time. “Thus Fate knocks at the door!” Beethoven is supposed to have said about the opening gesture that is so familiar to listeners today. It is therefore appropriate to perform it this season, during the Iceland Symphony’s Beethoven at 250 celebration, which will feature four symphonies and four concerti.

Twentieth-century Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera was best known for colourful works inspired by traditional Argentinian music. In his Harp Concerto, now performed in Iceland for the first time, the influence from dance music can be heard clearly.

In 1948, Ruth Gipps became the first British woman to receive a doctorate in composition. Her elegant tone poem Knight in Armour, dating from 1940, was premiered at the ever-popular Last Night of the Proms concert two years later.

Xavier de Maistre has ranked among the world’s leading harpists for over 20 years. In 1999, he became the first French instrumentalist to be hired by the Vienna Philharmonic, and a few years later he became the first harpist to perform as a soloist on the Philharmonic’s subscription concert programme. A multiple award winner with numerous recordings to his credit, he also teaches in Hamburg and gives master classes at the Juilliard School in New York, as well as in Tokyo and London. Icelandic concertgoers heard him and soprano Diana Damrau at the Reykjavík Arts Festival
in 2013, but this is his first concerto performance in Iceland.

French conductor Bertrand de Billy, noted for his unusually inspired interpretation, has been a regular guest at the Metropolitan Opera and the Salzburg Festival for decades. He has previously conducted the Iceland Symphony twice, with outstanding results.

Further information on the concert can be found on the Iceland Symphony Orchestra website.