Every year, I put together a little pocket guide to the Seattle Symphony subscription season for my symphony friends to help them decide which ticket package they want. As before, you might find it helpful, you might not, but either way, you're going to have to suffer through it. Here's the at-a-glance season guide for the first season with newly-appointed music director Ludovic Morlot. (Full brochure [pdf].)

Week Program Comments 21 13 7A
7B
7C
7D
7E
7F
7G 4A BW MM RH BS SS
09/22
2011
Zappa: Dupree's Paradise
Dutilleux: The Tree of Dreams
Beethoven: Symphony #3
Nervous
Nervous
Awesome
                       
09/29
2011
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Gershwin: An American in Paris
Varèse: Amériques
Polarizing
Awesome
Nervous
                   
 


 
10/06
2011
Liszt: Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
Nervous
Okay
Excellent
                       
10/20
2011
Mozart: Symphony #25, K173dB
Haydn: Cello Concerto in C
Schubert: Symphony #5
Awesome
Excellent
Excellent
                       
10/28
2011
Bach: Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052
Webern: Symphony Op. 21
Stravinsky: Dumbarton Oaks
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #5
Excellent
Nervous
Good
Excellent
                       
11/03
2011
Schumann: Violin Concerto
Bruckner: Symphony #7
Excellent
Nervous
                       
11/10
2011
Poulenc: Gloria
Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Copland: Symphony #3
Okay
Awesome
Okay
                       
11/17
2011
Britten: Canadian Carnival
Knussen: Violin Concerto
Bedford: Outblaze the Sky
Britten: Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia (Peter Grimes)
Good
Nervous
Wildcard
Good
                       
12/28
2011
Humperdinck: Hansel und Gretel excerpts
Beethoven: Symphony #9
Wildcard
Awesome
                       
01/05
2012
Weber: Overture Der Freischütz
Stravinsky: Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra
Mozart: Piano Concert #20, K466
Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony
Excellent
Okay
Awesome
Nervous
                       
01/13
2012
Bach: Orchestral Suite #2
CPE Bach: Kiev Concerto
JC Bach: Keyboard Concerto
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #2
Excellent
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
                       
01/19
2012
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence
Vasks: Distant Light
Mendelssohn: Symphony #4 Italian
Excellent
Nervous
Awesome
                       
01/26
2012
Muhly: New Work (World Premiere)
Chopin: Piano Concerto #2
Sibelius: Symphony #2
Wildcard
Excellent
Excellent
                       
02/09
2012
Stravinsky: Scherzo fantastique
Jolivet: Concertino for Trumpet
Haydn: Symphony #93
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Okay
Nervous
Excellent
Awesome
                       
02/16
2012
Schubert/Berio: Rendering
Beethoven: Piano Concerto #2
Schumann: Symphony #4
Wildcard
Excellent
Excellent
                       
02/22
2012
Vivaldi: Winter and Summer (4 Seasons)
Mozart: Symphony #38 Prague
Beethoven: Symphony #7
Awesome
Awesome
Awesome
                       
03/01
2012
Mozart: Piano Concerto #6, K238
Haydn: Symphony #6 Le matin
Mozart: Piano Concerto #27, K595
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
                   

 
 
03/09
2012
L. Mozart: Symphony in G, G. 16
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #3
Bach: Sinfonia in G minor, Op. 6, No. 6
Mozart: Viola Concerto (orig. Clarinet concerto)
Good
Awesome
Good
Excellent
                       
03/15
2012
Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn
Dutilleux: Tout un monde lointain
Ravel: La Valse
Excellent
Nervous
Excellent
                       
03/22
2012
Schubert: Rosamunda excerpts
Janáček: Taras Bulba
Brahms: Violin Concerto
Good
Okay
Awesome
                       
04/05
2012
Mozart: Overture Marriage of Figaro
Mozart: Piano Concerto #24, K491
Mahler: Symphony #1
Awesome
Awesome
Excellent
                       
04/12
2012
Rouse: Infernal Machine
Dvořák: Violin Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony #4
Nervous
Excellent
Awesome
                   

 
 
04/19
2012
Dutilleux: Symphony #1
Imeri: Za Simon
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G
Dukas: The Sorceror's Apprentice
Nervous
Wildcard
Excellent
Awesome
                       
04/26
2012
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #3
Shostakovich: Symphony #8
Awesome
Polarizing
                       
05/03
2012
Mozart: Divertimento in F, K138
Mozart: Violin Concerto #2, K211
Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto #5 Gretry
Schubert: Symphony #3
Awesome
Excellent
Okay
Excellent
                       
05/15
2012
Hindemith: Kammermusik #1
Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle
Okay
Wildcard
                       
06/07
2012
R. Strauss: Don Juan
Korngold: Violin Concerto
Turina: Danzas Fantásticas
Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol
Excellent
Okay
Good
Excellent
                       
06/14
2012
Bernstein: Candide Overture
Ives: Symphony #2
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto #3
Excellent
Polarizing
Excellent
                       
06/21 Berlioz: The Damnation of Faust Excellent                        
07/12
2012
R. Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra fanfare
Ligeti: Atmosphères
Matthews: Pluto
Holst: The Planets (with video)
Excellent
Polarizing
Wildcard
Awesome
                       
Week Program Comments 21 13 7A
7B
7C
7D
7E
7F
7G 4A BW MM RH BS SS

Legend:

21Masterworks 21-concert series (Choice of Thursdays or Saturdays)
13Masterworks 13-concert series (Choice of Thursdays or Saturdays)
7AMasterworks 7-concert series A (Thursdays)
7BMasterworks 7-concert series B (Saturdays)
7CMasterworks 7-concert series C (Thursdays)
7DMasterworks 7-concert series D (Saturdays)
7EMasterworks 7-concert series E (Thursdays)
7FMasterworks 7-concert series F (Saturdays)
7GMasterworks 7-concert series G (Sunday afternoons)
4AMasterworks 4-concert series A (Friday afternoons)
BWBaroque & Wine Series (Choice of Fridays or Saturdays)
MMMainly Mozart (Choice of Thursdays or Saturdays)
RHRush Hour (Fridays)
BS Beyond the Score multimedia lecture-concert (Sunday afternoons)
SSSymphony Specials (Various evenings)

For those not familiar with the Seattle Symphony ticket package line-ups: Most of the ticket packages are named Masterworks nX where n is the number is the number of concerts in the package, and the letter indicates which variation. Ticket packages have been combined if they are identical save for the day of the week. For example, 7C and 7D are the same concerts; the only difference is that 7C is for Thursday nights, while 7D is for Saturday nights. The Beyond the Score concerts focus on only one of the pieces.

Changes from last season:

  • The Masterworks 20 series has been expanded to 21 concerts.
  • The Masterworks 10A and 10B series have been dropped.
  • The Masterworks 4B series was renamed 4A. (There used to be 4A and 4B, then 4A was dropped last year leaving just 4B. Then I guess they figured having a 4B without a 4A was confusing, so they renamed 4B to 4A.)
  • The Thursday Rush Hour series has been dropped.

This chart doesn't include "one-off" concert series such as the Visiting Orchestras or Distinguished Artists series. A "one-off" series is a concert series which shares no concerts with any other series. (Baroque & Wine and Symphony Specials are grandfathered in; I'll probably omit them in future years.)

The comments column very crudely categorizes the works to assist my less-classically-aware friends. This is, of course, a highly subjective rating system, but I tried to view each piece from the ears of my symphony friends. Thus, I rated downward pieces that I personally like but which others might not and rated up pieces that I may not find musically satisfying but which nevertheless tend to be crowd-pleasers.

These predictions have, of course, proven wrong in the past.

Here's what the comments mean. Note that they do not indicate whether the piece is significant in a musicological sense; they're just my guess as to whether my friends are going to like it. (For example, I know that my friends hate minimalism, so I rated the Adams down even though I myself might enjoy it. They also aren't big fans of Bruckner.)

  • Awesome: Guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
  • Excellent: You will definitely like this piece.
  • Good: You will probably like this piece.
  • Okay: You may like this piece.
  • Nervous: I have a bad feeling about this one.
  • Polarizing: Some people will love it; others will hate it.
  • Wildcard: I have no idea what will happen.

In many cases, I am not familiar with the piece and am basing my evaluation on what I know about the composer (or am just guessing).