Cleveland rolls out Schubert-led season

Cleveland rolls out Schubert-led season


norman lebrecht

April 05, 2020

The Cleveland Orchestra has just announced plans for 20/21.

Some extracts (you read them here first):


Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra have announced the 2020-21 season at Severance Hall, running from September 2020 to May 2021. In Welser-Möst’s 19th season as music director he continues explorations of works by Prokofiev and Schubert and concludes with a spring festival devoted to outsiders in art and society. The festival is centered around the Orchestra’s annual opera presentation in May 2021, in-concert performances of Verdi’s opera Otello.

Says André Gremillet, President & CEO of The Cleveland Orchestra: ‘Announcing in this time of uncertainty is doubly important. Despite the realities that the coronavirus pandemic has created today, we know that concert life around the world will reawaken and continue, and it is vital that we proceed with our plans to welcome audiences to future performances and seasons. Music and the arts offer hope, comfort, and focus for everyone going forward. Franz Welser-Möst and all of us within the Cleveland Orchestra community are dedicated to not just helping to contain and control the virus, but to being ready and able to resume everyday life with the joys and pleasures that include live concert performances. The resilience of the arts community will stand as a reflection of human creativity and compassion — and a clear signal of solidarity among artists and audience alike.’

‘Music is a special language that brings us new understanding of the world around us,” says Franz Welser-Möst. ‘In today’s uncertain times, the arts are as important as they ever have been, to provide grounding and perspective to the tumultuous world around us. Every season features new discoveries and old favorites, and the 2020-21 season is no exception. The season is filled with brand-new works and works that The Cleveland Orchestra has never played before.’

During the 2020-21 season, Franz Welser-Möst leads twelve weekends of concerts at Severance Hall. In September, he conducts programs featuring Stravinsky’s Concerto in D, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Yefim Bronfman as soloist), and Scriabin’s Symphony No. 2. Later in the month, he conducts a program of Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel (with Principal Viola Wesley Collins as soloist) along with Mozart’s Requiem and Ave verum corpus, both at home in Severance Hall and at Lincoln Center, where they will open the season’s Great Performers Series. At the start of 2021, Welser-Möst leads programs with Tchaikovsky’s Suite No.3 and Symphony No. 2, followed by the world premiere of Bernd Richard Deutsch’s Intensity, along with Sibelius’s Symphony No. 7, and Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor (with Leif Ove Andsnes), while in March he leads a program of two works performed for the first time by The Cleveland Orchestra, Corigliano’s Conjurer Concerto (for percussion and string orchestra, with soloist Martin Grubinger), and Korngold’s Symphony in F-sharp. In May, Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in Ligeti’s Violin Concerto (with Leila Josefowicz), alongside three tone poems of Richard Strauss: Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks as well as the first Cleveland Orchestra performance of Macbeth.

Welser-Möst also continues his exploration of works by Sergei Prokofiev and Franz Schubert. Begun in the 2018-19 season, this examination of both well-known and lesser-known works includes programs of Prokofiev’s Sinfonia concertante (for cello and orchestra, with Principal Cello Mark Kosower) alongside Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 and Magnard’s Hyme A Venus, as well as Schubert’s Symphony No. 6 appearing alongside Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (with soloist Yuja Wang) and Dvořák’s A Hero’s Song.

‘Schubert and Prokofiev are very well known — and rightfully so — but for a very small portion of their overall catalogs,’ says Franz Welser-Möst. ‘We are taking the opportunity to explore those catalogs in more depth, and I think audiences will enjoy some fascinating discoveries with us. Both of these composers wrote music that is intensely personal, and filled with meaning. The Cleveland Orchestra and I have been offering some of their works, paired together, for two seasons now. And the new season continues this exploration — of their similarities and differences, and simply of how inventive they each were as composers. Both were masters of melody, harmony, and of bringing emotional weight into their music.’



  • Annnon says:

    nothing to write home about, but then again, what better time to announce the season and get subscriptions with a captured audience at home doing nothing (assuming Ohio is not one of those kooky “the virus doesn’t concern us” states)

    • perturbo says:

      Ohio is NOT one of those “it’s just the flu” states. We have not been on full lockdown, but nonessential businesses and schools have been closed for weeks, and this will continue at least to May 1. Grocery stores must follow various procedures to insure physical distancing in the stores. The governor and the department of health director give FACT-based briefings every day, in contrast to what comes out of the White House

  • BP says:

    Schubert accounts for one symphony across the whole season, so ‘Schubert-led’ is a huge stretch. In any case, really great programming with plenty of appealing rarities. Probably the most adventurous orchestra in America with the LA Phil.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Richard Strauss seems like best represented composer next season: his music is played in three programs – five tone poems, of which only Macbeth is not that well known.

      Mahler is represented with only one symphony, the 1st.

  • I need more cowbell. says:

    American Orchestra’s should be lead by American maestri.

  • Orchestra fan says:

    Petros, The Cleveland Orchestra has done plenty of Mahler over recent seasons. It’s due for a rest.

    Cowbell, your comment is as provincial as it is grammatically challenged (hint: apostrophes don’t belong where you put them).

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Personally I believe we need fewer performances Mahler symphonies (which are not my cup of tea) and more of Mahler’s songs (which I adore).

      • Ken says:

        And personally, I don’t see any of of this happening ever again. So fasten your seatbelts.

      • Bruce says:

        I feel the same way. I’m often reminded of an interview with Colin (not yet Sir Colin) Davis* where he basically said that Mahler needed an editor, and that the limitation of adhering to a text helped to keep his meandering tendencies in line.

        *(“Maestro!” by Helena Matheopoulos, from about 1980 IIRC. She interviewed a number of famous conductors. It’s written in a kind of terrible gossip-column style, but she wisely uses the conductors’ own words a lot, and those parts are very good.)

  • MacroV says:

    I rarely hear the Cleveland Orchestras, but on paper their programs often look, if not unusually bold, thoughtfully conceived and with some sort of inspired twist- and not promoted as “Mellifluous Mendelssohn” or “Bold Beethoven,” etc. And glad to see Leila J. is taking on Ligeti (believe she’s doing it in DC or Baltimore, too).

  • Mark says:

    Does anyone know if the May audition for the open concertmaster position in Cleveland has been postponed?

  • Hal Hobbs says:

    Actually, I read them first on

  • jack says:

    If anyone wants to know the history of The Cleveland Orchestra from Szell to today, all that they have to do is follow the arc of Blossom Music Center from its inception (glorious) to today (tragic). That narrative will tell you all that you need to know about the fate of classical music in (capitalist) America.

  • Monsoon says:

    That’s a pretty good season with a healthy amount of 20th century programming and premiers. The two “outsider festival” concerts look great (yay, Barber’s Toccata Festiva!)

    • Annnon says:

      “healthy amount of 20th century programming and premiers”

      uh, we’re in the 21st century.

      Kinda late to start premiering 20th century pieces in the second decade of the 21st century, no?

  • fflambeau says:

    Nice except I disagree about Prokofiev. There were/are many greater Russian composers.

  • Julian E says:

    Does anyone know whether their (presumably) European tour is still on? I’ve tickets for Cleveland and FW-M plus Ax in Mozart Jeunehomme and Bruckner 9 in Symphony Hall on 11 Oct.

    • anon says:

      To date they have only cancelled as far as the end of this season in May.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Does any human know to what extent life will return to normal next fall?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      It will probably go ahead. It looks like several European countries will start ending the lockdown in the next few weeks. The first thing to restart will be schools, and retail shops (for things like clothes). However, larger events will take longer to restart (perhaps starting July). But it really depends what happens to hospital admissions and infection rates when the reopening starts.