The first piece to be played is a quite remarkable symphonic poem by César Franck, a composer known for his deep religiousness and earnestness and nicknamed 'Angel' by his students, that treats the ancient myth of the mortal Psyche, whose divine beauty attracts the amorousness of the gods of Olympus and eventually, through their uniform support, renders her divine herself. In some views, Franck was unable to prove himself a hypocrite and handled this highly erotically charged tale in a most unerotic fashion - although his late Romantic chromaticism provides some room for doubting such opinions.
From mythology, the orchestral songs of Gustav Mahler lead us into the world of German fairy tales, simultaneously representing the popularity of Romanticism and the expressive musical style of the fin de siècle. The lieder also served as base materials for Mahler, with several melodies being incorporated into his Symphony No. 1, which he was writing at the same time. In Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen ('Songs of a Wayfarer'), a little of the young composer might come to life before the audience as he journeys towards his own mature self.
The programme ends with one of the first orchestral works that Brahms ever wrote. This evening, you will hear Symphony No. 3 by Brahms which uniquely combines heroism, mentioned both by Richter and Hanslick as well, with the so-called Protestant mentality reaching all the way back to Bach. Brahms couldn’t exactly be called a Hungarian composer; on the other hand, he did have a uniquely close relationship with the contemporary Hungarian music scene. Hungarian Dances by Brahms played a significant role in the development of style hongrois in the 19th century.
And this too is a kind of journey from the Classical to the Romantic.