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USC Symphony Orchestra presents music by giants Beethoven and Brahms

Guest artist Steven Spooner joins the concert on November 1

The USC Symphony Orchestra showcases the extraordinary musical talent in the USC School of Music and beyond. The program for this concert includes music by two giants – Romantic composer Johannes Brahms and a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras, Ludwig van Beethoven.

Renowned pianist Steven Spooner joins the orchestra on the upcoming concert on Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts. Valet parking is available. Led by conductor Scott Weiss, the USC Symphony Orchestra is the premier orchestra in the USC School of Music and one of the leading ensembles in the Southeast. Preceding the concert is a pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. on the Koger stage. Buy tickets.

At the very fore of American pianists, critics and audiences have hailed the distinctive and compelling performances of guest artist pianist Steven Spooner. He has been engaged at prestigious venues such as the Salle Cortot in Paris, the Shanghai Concert Hall, Budapest’s Great Hall of the Liszt Academy, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Rome’s Santa Cecilia, and Singapore’s Esplanade. Spooner has been successful in international piano competitions — he is prizewinner at each of the seven international piano competitions he has entered and top prizewinner at both the Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the Art Livre International Piano Competition. He captured First Prize and was recipient of the Niekamp Career Grant as most outstanding pianist in French music at the Paris Conservatory. Spooner performs on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.

After he had become partially deaf, Beethoven composed the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major in Vienna in 1809, the year Austria was defeated and Napoleon had invaded and occupied Vienna. Beethoven was worried about protecting what was left of his hearing, covering his ears with pillows when the firing noises grew too loud. He wrote, “We have passed through a great deal of misery. . . . Since May 4th, I have brought into the world little that is connected; only here and there a fragment. The whole course of events has affected me body and soul. . . . What a disturbing, wild life around me; nothing but drums, cannons, men, misery of all sorts.” Beethoven’s majestic Piano Concerto No. 5 was his last completed piano concerto.

Johannes Brahms said to his conductor-friend Hermann Levi, “I shall never write a symphony. You have no idea how the likes of us feel when we hear the tramp of a giant like him behind us.” By “him” Brahms meant Beethoven. As a young man Brahms had destroyed many attempted symphonies because they were not yet up to his high standards. Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C-minor is on this concert’s program. Although Brahms began sketching ideas for the work at the age of 22, he did not finish it until 1876 when he was 43 and in his maturity as a composer. Brahms is one of the few composers whose first symphony is as good as his last.


Concerts are FREE for USC students with student ID - must be picked up from the Koger Box Office, corner of Park and Greene, before 5:00 p.m. on the day of the performance or in the Koger Center lobby immediately prior to the performance.

General public $30; seniors / military / USC faculty and staff $25; children under 18 and non-USC students with ID $8

Call 803-251-2222, in person at Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets (M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or online at

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