Great Performances

S46 E12 | FULL EPISODE

The Cleveland Orchestra Centennial Celebration

Celebrate the orchestra’s centennial with a gala concert conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, featuring pianist Lang Lang, and works by Mozart, Strauss, and Ravel, with vignettes of past music directors.

AIRED: January 11, 2019 | 1:21:06
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TRANSCRIPT

-Next on "Great Performances"...

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...the incomparable Cleveland Orchestra,

led by Franz Welser-Most,

celebrates its 100th birthday in a special concert

starring piano virtuoso Lang Lang

performing Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 24."

♪♪

And a "Symphonic Fantasy" by Richard Strauss...

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...and Ravel's "La Valse."

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-There's something special that happens

when they all get together and make music.

-When I look to the next hundred years,

what I would love is that it keeps being a vibrant,

lively, innovative, exciting institution.

-Join the festivities

for The Cleveland Orchestra Centennial Celebration.

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-We are actually an orchestra which looks for the subtleties,

which looks for the details, looks for intimacy in the music,

and that defines our sound.

♪♪

-The Cleveland Orchestra

has sustained its tradition of greatness for 10 decades,

honing its signature sound.

Through the years, there have been seven music directors,

beginning with its first conductor,

Kiev-born Nikolai Sokoloff,

who was recruited in 1918 by the orchestra's founder,

Adella Prentiss Hughes.

After Sokoloff came Artur Rodzinski,

then Erich Leinsdorf from 1943 to '46,

and musical adviser Pierre Boulez from 1970 to '72.

Lorin Maazel was a musician of exceptional and early talents

who had first conducted the orchestra in 1943 at age 13.

Three decades later,

he was chosen to be Cleveland's music director.

Maazel held the position from 1972 to 1982.

♪♪

Christoph von Dohnányi followed Maazel from 1984 to 2002

and was named the first-ever music director laureate

of The Cleveland Orchestra upon his retirement in 2002.

♪♪

But it was the tireless, forward-thinking George Szell

who, from 1946 to 1970, drilled into this orchestra the warmth,

precision, and clarity for which it is still famous,

forging what became "the Cleveland sound,"

rivaling older, more established European orchestras.

-There must be something in the way we play

that goes beyond perfection, brilliance,

something that comes from the heart.

-Today leading The Cleveland Orchestra is Franz Welser-Most.

-When I came 16 years ago,

I had an artistic vision where I wanted to take the orchestra,

and I found the level of technical quality,

ensemble precision always has been extremely high,

but I wanted a warmer sound, a more singing sound.

-The partnership between Franz Welser-Most

and this orchestra is, I believe, unique,

and I think it's based first and foremost

on a deep respect for one another.

So, Franz is the greatest admirer of this orchestra,

and I think this orchestra

has an incredible respect for this man,

and it's just a great partnership.

Like any great partnership, there's chemistry there.

There's something special that happens

when they all get together and make music.

♪♪

-I think for The Cleveland Orchestra,

I think there are so many wonderful artists within it,

and then to harness all of those powers together

to achieve that sense of unity, that's very exciting.

You know, when it's really together, it's thrilling,

'cause it's powerful, it's immediate.

The effect is astounding.

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[ Instruments tuning ]

[ Applause ]

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[ Applause ]

[ Applause continues ]

[ Applause continues ]

[ Applause continues ]

[ Film reel clicks ]

♪♪

-Great art doesn't die.

If we look at Shakespeare,

if we look at Beethoven, Rembrandt, Picasso, you name it,

great art is there to be experienced.

♪♪

-A century has passed

since the founding of The Cleveland Orchestra,

now considered among the finest in the world.

It was started by a woman

known as "The Mother of The Cleveland Orchestra,"

pianist and impresario Adella Prentiss Hughes.

With her eye on the future,

Hughes saw the need to create an orchestra in Cleveland

worthy of those in Europe and other big American cities.

Through her persistence and leadership,

The Cleveland Orchestra was formed,

and Adella Prentiss Hughes became the first woman ever

to found a successful orchestra.

Within a decade, the orchestra grew in size,

repertoire, and reputation.

It was so successful, many felt it deserved a permanent home

that would do it justice.

Hughes again rallied forces to build Severance Hall.

-The Cleveland Orchestra is truly a unique institution.

It's a real ambassador for our community.

It's the only art form that can travel the world

and take the Cleveland name around the world for us

and does a wonderful job of doing that.

It's just a special institution with a special history

and extremely bright future.

-You know, with the legacy of this orchestra,

the great tradition this orchestra has,

part of it is actually that you don't rest on your laurels.

When I look to the next 100 years,

what I would love is that it keeps being a vibrant,

lively, innovative, exciting institution.

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[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Applause ]

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[ Applause ]

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-"Mr. Higgins suggested as a title

'The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra,'

indicating that the orchestra is being established

for all the people of the city,"

Adella Prentiss Hughes, MAA Board minutes, 1918.

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-I believe very strongly that this relationship

between the citizens of Cleveland

and The Cleveland Orchestra has to be as close as possible.

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-Since its founding in 1918,

leadership at The Cleveland Orchestra

has a long history of presence

in local neighborhoods and schools.

-Since the formation of the orchestra in 1918,

one of the first things that we did

was to start an education program.

As a matter of fact, historically,

I think you'll find out that part of the reason

that the orchestra was formed in the first place

was to bring good musicians in

who could teach music to the kids

in the Cleveland school system.

-Every kid should be touched by classical, great music.

Beethoven 5 is about humanity.

It's about freedom.

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-We have approximately 20,000 kids a year

come on a school day on the school bus

to hear The Cleveland Orchestra live.

And we have a lot of other programs,

so our music director, Franz, is very committed

to making sure that every child in Cleveland is exposed to music

and has music in their lives.

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-The Cleveland Orchestra is passionate

about its commitment to community engagement.

Its unique neighborhood residency initiative

provides a week of performances and events free of charge.

-All the activities are sort of centering

around a full orchestra concert

in a large venue in that community,

but we do a lot of school visits.

We do a lot of chamber music

sort of what we call pop-up performances,

just showing up in a bakery or a coffee shop

or sort of an unconventional venue,

where we have a chance to meet the people in that community

and interact with them.

-People that had never been to Severance Hall before,

people that had never gone to Blossom Music Center.

It was so accessible.

It made the orchestra right there,

readily available to them.

And I saw people with tears in their eyes.

They were so excited

that their neighborhood was chosen for this.

As much international touring as we do,

we are The Cleveland Orchestra.

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[ Applause ]

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[ Applause ]

[ Applause ]

-To find out more about this

and other "Great Performances" programs,

visit pbs.org/greatperformances.

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[ Applause continues ]

♪♪

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