Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4, referred to as the “Italian”, is his best known. Premiered in London in 1833 and published posthumously, it is a lively reflection of his impressions of mainland Italy. The charming brightness and joy of the Italian landscape and its folk music–a source of much Romantic imagery–were drawn upon by the composer for one of the most famous examples of early 19th century symphonies. Carry on reading
During the composition of Die Walküre (the Valkyrie), Richard Wagner wrote the Wesendonck Lieder, a cycle of five songs based on texts by Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of one of Wagner's patrons and his muse. These lieder are considered to be a test laboratory for the musical ideas that Wagner later used in Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde), steeped in the same fluctuating chromatic harmonies as the opera.
The programme opens with Forty Heartbeats by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. In this heartbeat-inspired work, conductors can decide the order in which its pages are performed and the tempo of each one.