The notion of the artist as the hero is one of the central tenets of the Romantic era, with composers from Beethoven to Berlioz crafting symphonies of enormous scope and heroic splendor. Composer David Lang turns that notion on its head in his symphony without a hero, which receives its world premiere this week at the Seattle Symphony, conducted by Ludovic Morlot. The program juxtaposes Lang’s new work against the epitome of the heroic symphony archetype: Richard Strauss’s epic tone poem, A Hero’s Life.
The titles are nearly exact opposites. As it turns out, so is the music. Second Inversion’s Maggie Molloy talks with Lang about his new symphony and the relationship between artist and hero in the 21st century.
Audio edited by Dacia Clay.
Music in this interview:
David Lang: child: “short fall” (Cantaloupe Music)
Sentieri Selvaggi; Carlo Boccadoro, conductor
David Lang: the little matchgirl passion: “from the sixth hour” (Cantaloupe Music)
Los Angeles Master Chorale; Grant Gershon, conductor
Richard Strauss: A Hero’s Life: The Hero’s Battlefield (CSO Resound)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, conductor
Seattle Symphony performs David Lang’s symphony without a hero Feb. 8 and 10 at Benaroya Hall. For tickets and additional information, please click here.