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Emanuel Ax, Piano
Emanuel Ax, piano | © Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Emanuel Ax Plays Beethoven

Fri Oct 29 - Sat Oct 30, 2021

Orchestra Hall

~2 hrs including a 20 min intermission

In his Minnesota Orchestra debut, conductor David Afkham joins forces with Grammy award-winning pianist Emanuel Ax—who has appeared on the Orchestra Hall stage many times since his own debut here 47 years ago—to present Ludwig van Beethoven’s most poetic of piano concertos. Inspired by Beethoven’s more dramatic side, composer Unsuk Chin’s subito con forza is an evocative, tumultuous work new to our stage this season. After intermission, the emotions and intensity will only increase as the Orchestra journeys through Dmitri Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. 

A Few Things to Know

  • Minnesota was one of the first places Emanuel Ax ever played with a major orchestra—at Northrop Auditorium in 1974 and 1977, with the Minnesota Orchestra and conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.
  • Unsuk Chin's subito con forza was inspired by the conversation books that helped Beethoven communicate in person as his hearing diminished. This is the first Minnesota Orchestra performance of this piece, which first premiered in September 2020.  
  • The Orchestra performs another work by composer Unsuk Chin, Frontispiece for Orchestra, this February in concerts led by Dima Slobodeniouk.

Date & Time




  • CHIN

    subito con forza

    1 min note

    One Minute Note

    To mark last year’s occasion of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Unsuk Chin composed subito con forza (Italian for “Suddenly, with force”), inspired by the conversation books that helped Beethoven communicate in person as his hearing diminished. Brief, visceral and powerful, it includes many references to Beethoven’s music—hidden and overt.


    Piano Concerto No. 4

    1 min note

    One Minute Note

    Ludwig van Beethoven’s lyrical Fourth Piano Concerto begins with soloist rather than orchestra, foreshadowing the work’s soft-spoken mood. Most striking is the second movement, in which harsh strings are calmed by the gentle piano.


    Symphony No. 10

    1 min note

    One Minute Note

    Dmitri Shostakovich’s Tenth is a work of great extremes, requiring delicate strands of sound from a massive ensemble, framing tiny movements with huge ones, communicating darkly but rising to a high-spirited conclusion. Many assumed this enigmatic symphony was a protest against Stalin and his oppression, but the composer would acknowledge only that his wish was to portray human emotions and passions.”


Minnesota Orchestra

David Afkham


Emanuel Ax


Your Concert Experience

Join us for Q&A’s, hosted discussions, exhibits and more. All free with your concert ticket!

Exhibit by The Museum of Russian Art

When: Pre-Concert and Intermission
Where: Balcony A

The Museum of Russian Art will exhibit artworks in conjunction with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10. The display includes Soviet Era posters, paintings, and artifacts from the 1950s, recreating the aesthetics of the period on a small scale.

Pre-Concert Panel

When: 7:00pm - 7:45pm
Where: Target Atrium

Cellist and podcast host Patty Ryan moderates a discussion on how major and minor keys in music are more emotionally complex than simply implying happy or sad. Joining Patty are bassist Jason Wells, composer Michael Maiorana, and musicologist Andrew Stoebig.

Listen Ahead

Accessibility Services

  • Assistive Listening Devices
  • Large Print Programs
  • Service Animals
  • Wheelchair & Accessible Seating

Additional services are available upon request.

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