Estonia National Opera Symphony Concert

Conductor Arvo Volmer. Soloist Ivari Ilja (piano).

Music worth discovering!

Conductor: Arvo Volmer
Soloist: Ivari Ilja (piano)


The performance will include Sibelius' Symphony No 5 and Brahms Piano Concerto No 2.

Johannes Brahms was one of the leading composers of the romantic era, who was both a traditionalist and an innovator. Brahms did not support the ideas of programmatic music and did not like pathos and excessive effects. His music is lyric, expressing secret thrills and aspirations, warmth and spiritual turbulence.

The B-flat Concerto (1881) dates from the start of Brahms’ ripest maturity, the period when his fame had reached a peak throughout Europe. The second piano concerto is separated by a gap of 22 years from his first piano concerto. Those intervening decades had been spent producing two symphonies, two overtures, the Haydn Variations, the Violin Concerto, the Hungarian Dances, and dozens of songs, piano works, and chamber compositions. It took him three years to work on this concerto which indicates that he was always self-critical. He wrote to Clara Schumann: “I want to tell you that I have written a very small piano concerto with a very small and pretty scherzo.” This for what may well have been the largest piano concerto written to that time in terms of its complexity. Its premiere, given in Budapest in 1881 with the composer as soloist, was a great success, and within several months, he performed the piece to enthusiastic audiences in a dozen European cities.

This spring’s symphony concert continues its tradition to bring to the audience the amazing symphonic world of Jean Sibelius. Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82 received its first performance on December 8, 1915, conducted by Jean Sibelius on his 50th birthday. Despite its huge popularity, the composed was dissatisfied with the work and revised it twice. The final version in three parts was completed in 1919.

Despite its success, the composer was experiencing inner struggles with music composition, prompting the question, was he composing the way he was “supposed” to write?

Sibelius was keenly aware that composers like Stravinsky and Schoenberg were producing strikingly modern new works, and Sibelius could sense that some people were starting to regard his music as old-fashioned. But Sibelius’s Fifth became and continues to be among his most beloved works. In its final part, Sibelius introduces one of his most memorable ideas, a swan-motif inspired by the flight of these majestic birds. “Today at ten to eleven, I saw a flock of 16 swans passing overhead. One of the greatest experiences!”




Arvo Volmer


Ivari Ilja

Show times


16. February 2023 19:00 Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre