Opening Night at Tanglewood

« previous episode | next episode »

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Boston Symphony Orchestra opens the 75th anniversary season of the Tanglewood Festival by re-creating the festival's very first concert, from August 5, 1937. This all-Beethoven program features the “Leonore” Overture No. 3, the Symphony No. 6 in F Major (“Pastoral”), and the Symphony No. 5 in C Minor.

Back in 1937, Serge Koussevitzky conducted the Boston Symphony; this time around it is the highly respected Christoph von Dohnányi.

Hear the concert live starting at 8 pm

Comments [5]


Since 1975 I have journeyed to Tanglewood over 100 weekends. My favorite
memories are watching Lenny Bernstein, who died shortly after his
August 1990 appearance at Tanglewood, which struck me with awe and
great sadness. I treasure the rise of Seija Osawa and his Mahler
symphonies. Each time, I visit the concrete Tanglewood Dedication
Memorial located in the Gardens overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl.
It states that the original Tanglewood families were the TAPPANS,

Jul. 09 2012 12:31 PM

Being a transferred northerner (CT + MA) I have many memories of Tanglewood. My favorites are from Tanglewood on Parade and the promising newcomers. My other great one was the summer after Leontyne Price's retirement from the Met. We knew she appearing without her accompianist only so we got tickets for seats in the shed (good thing, because it rained). Ms Price sang brilliantely of course, but the highlight was her many encores. What a gracious lady!

Jul. 09 2012 11:50 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

What wonderful stories by Mary Ellen and Chris! It's a delight to hear the opening concert of the treasure that is Tanglewood, and how wonderful to hear Maestro Dohnanyi at Tanglewood again. I wonder if anyone else felt that the performance conceptions were of two sensibilities that reflected the Maestro's long experience with the works? For brevity's sake, the Leonore Overture No. 3 and the Pastorale Symphony evoked a Szell-Giulini conception; and the Fifth Symphony sounded like a Toscanini-Solti conception. I have this opinion because in the first two works, the tutti passages for woodwinds and brass marked "fortissimo" were carefully blended without the brass predominating, the latter which I happen to prefer, especially in Beethoven. The grace notes were always on the beat in the slow movement. But in the Fifth Symphony, that included the last movement repeat, I heard plenty of drive and much louder dynamic in the brass in the outer movements, as well as a wonderful Scherzo trio featuring the 'cellos and contrabasse, as one would expect. And no vibrato in the first violins in the transition to the last movement certainly added to the suspense. I'm equally delighted that Maestro Dohnanyi agrees with Maestro Levine in that he always has the orchestra seat in the traditional antiphonal violin manner, just like the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Did you also enjoy hearing the plasticity and clean textures that were elicited from that seating plan without sacrificing any of the music's power? I certainly did.

Jul. 06 2012 10:58 PM
Chris from Albany NY

I can't match the previous comment but my grandmother started going to Tanglewood in 1939 and I went for the first time in 1947 as a toddler and have been going almost every year since. As a child and then as an adult the Saturday rehearsals were my favorites since we could sit anywhere we could find seats! My most treasured memory was going with my mother to a Sat. eve concert when she was 99. We heard Dame Felicite Lott sing the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss which was a favorite of ours. I know my mother went to more concerts at Tanglewood in her 102 years than I did but maybe in 35 years I will have been to as many!

Jul. 06 2012 05:27 PM
Mary Ellen Marino from Hornor Lane, Princeton , New Jersey

I have been hearing that WQXR is interested in stories about the first Tanglewood concert 75 years ago this Friday. I am only 72 so I missed it. But have been going to Tanglewood yearly since 1974.

But my story about the first Tanglewood Concert 75 years ago comes from having lived next door to two wonderful women who attended the first Tanglewood Concert as friends and Radcliffe graduatesin 1937.

I have seen the Brownie camera photo of the blonde Mary and the dark headed Elizabeth on the Tanglewood lawn that first night!

The fascinating part is that they came to be my neighbors because they were married to my next door neighbor, Julian Bigelow, known for his critical work on the first Princeton computer in the 50's.

And neither divorce nor polygamy was involved. Julian met Mary, his first wife and Elizabeth, his second wife when they were all working in New York City in the 40's. He perhaps was working on the Manhattan Project.

He married Mary, had three children and took care of Mary very well until her death in the 1980's. Elizabeth whose first husband had died was able to reconnect with him and spend fifteen wonderful years before his death in 2003 and lived happily as my neighnor - mothering her two grown boys and Julian's three grown children until her passing at 96 years of age this January. Elizabeth's fame was the founding of the Langston Hughes Library and Community Center in Queens, New York.

Jul. 05 2012 11:49 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.