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USC Symphony Orchestra presents challenging major works by Rachmaninoff and Beethoven

Renowned pianist Adam Golka plays Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 November 18

Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor is respected, even feared, by many pianists. Josef Hofmann, the pianist to whom the work is dedicated, never publicly performed it, saying, "it wasn't for him.” Gary Graffman lamented he had not learned this concerto as a student, when he was "still too young to know fear." The work’s reputation persists among pianists as one of the most difficult in the entire repertoire and one of the most demanding of all virtuoso showcases.

The composer called the Third his favorite of his own piano concertos. But it was not until the 1930s and largely thanks to the advocacy of Vladimir Horowitz that the Third concerto became popular.Although it took two decades for the work to be embraced, it came to rival Rachmaninoff’s popular Second, primarily through his great friend Horowitz whom Rachmaninoff considered the greatest pianist of the century. Horowitz considered his mastery of the Third Concerto his proudest achievement.

On November 18, guest artist Adam Golka, is sure to deliver a stunning performance of this technically challenging piano concerto.

With his extensive concerto repertoire, Golka has appeared as a soloist with premiere orchestras in the U.S and abroad. Born and raised in Texas to a family of musicians from Poland, 26-year-old pianist Golka has won widespread critical and popular acclaim with his “brilliant technique and real emotional depth” (The Washington Post). He has garnered international prizes including the 2008 Gilmore Young Artist Award, first prize in the 2003 China Shanghai International Piano Competition and the 2009 Max I. Allen Classical Fellowship Award of the American Pianists Association. He made his Isaac Stern Auditorium debut at Carnegie Hall, playing Rachmaninoff's Third Concerto with the New York Youth Symphony in 2010.

After studying with his mother, pianist Anna Golka, and Dariusz Pawlas of Rice University, he moved to Fort Worth to pursue studies with José Feghali at Texas Christian University. In 2012 he received an Artist’s Diploma from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, studying with the legendary Leon Fleisher, and has continued his work in master classes with Andras Schiff, Richard Goode and Mitsuko Uchida. 

The University of South Carolina’s premier orchestra will also present Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major at the November concert. Often overshadowed by his Third and Fifth symphonies, Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony was written during a summer stay at the palace of Count Franz von Oppersdorff, to whom the work was dedicated. It premiered at a private concert at the Lobkowitz Palace in Vienna, and though not much was written about the piece after its premiere, contemporaries celebrated it. Despite its many merits, it languished in obscurity and even now is the least known and performed of Beethoven’s nine symphonies.

The cheerful symphony recalls the symphonies of Joseph Haydn, with whom Beethoven had studied a decade before. Despite being written in a style more like his first two symphonies, the Fourth contains many aspects that show Beethoven’s growing strength as a composer, most notably the B-flat minor Adagio introduction to the first movement, which Leonard Bernstein described as a "mysterious introduction which hovers around minor modes, tip-toeing its tenuous weight through ambiguous unrelated keys with reluctance to settle down into its final B-flat major."

The concert takes place at the Koger Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18. Maestro Portnoy will give a pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. in the Koger’s Large Rehearsal Room.

Purchase Tickets

Single concert tickets are $30 general public; $25 senior citizens, USC faculty and staff; $8 students. Concert tickets are available from Capitol Tickets: 803-251-2222 or Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets (M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or online.

About the USC Symphony Orchestra

The University of South Carolina’s premier orchestra ensemble, led by acclaimed music director Donald Portnoy, receives accolades for its fine performances. World-renowned guest artists join the ensemble throughout the year to bring you a stirring seven-concert season with music by the most dynamic composers. See the 2014-2015 season.