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 2012/2013 season. (Full brochure. Seattle Times coverage.)

Week Program Comments 21 13 7A
7B
7C
7D
7E
7F
7G 4A BS SU WG
09/20
2012
Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture
Martinů: Symphony #6 Fantaises symphoniques
Debussy: Nocturnes: Nuages and Fêtes
Respighi: Pines of Rome
Good
Nervous
Excellent
Excellent
                   
10/04
2012
Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain
Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations
Sibelius: Symphony #1
Awesome
Good
Excellent
                   
10/18
2012
Beethoven: Coriolan Overture
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante K297b
Fujikura: Mina
Haydn: Symphony #103 Drum Roll
Awesome
Excellent
Wildcard
Awesome
               
 

 
 
10/26 Sonic Evolution Wildcard                    
11/01
2012
Tchaikovsky: The Snow Maiden Suite
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Prokofiev: Symphony #6
Good
Awesome
Nervous
                   
11/08
2012
Adams: Harmonielehre
Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5
Polarizing
Awesome
                   
11/15
2012
Brahms: Piano Concerto #2
Dutilleux: The Shadow of Time
R. Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel
Awesome
Nervous
Good
                   
11/29
2012
Berg: Violin Concerto
Mahler: Symphony #4
Polarizing
Polarizing
             
 
   
01/10
2013
Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto #1
Mozart: Symphony #39
Excellent
Excellent
Awesome
               
 

 
 
01/31 Messiaen: Turangalîla Symphony Polarizing                    
02/07
2013
Rossini: William Tell Overture
Schumann: Piano Concerto
Brahms: Symphony #4
Awesome
Excellent
Awesome
                   
02/14
2013
(Rossini: William Tell Overture)
Faure: Pelléas et Mélisande Suite
Mozart: Piano Concerto #21
Ravel: Shéherazade
Szymanowski: Symphony #4
Awesome
Good
Awesome
Nervous
Nervous

 



 
 



         
 




 
03/14
2013
Tippett: The Midsummer Marriage: Ritual Dances
Bruch: Violin Concerto #1
Elgar: Enigma Variations
Nervous
Awesome
Excellent
             

 
   
03/21
2013
Mozart: Don Giovanni Overture
Britten: Cello Symphony
Beethoven: Symphony #5
Awesome
Nervous
Awesome
             

 
   
03/28
2013
Liadov: The Enchanted Lake
Kancheli: Styx
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherezade
Okay
Nervous
Awesome
               
 

 
 
04/13
2013
Mozart: Piano Concerto #9
Bruckner: Symphony #4 Romantic
Awesome
Excellent
                   
04/18
2013
Antheil: A Jazz Symphony
Gruber: Percussion Concerto Rough Music
Bernstein: On the Waterfront Suite
Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite
Excellent
Okay
Good
Excellent
                   
04/25
2013
Sibelius: Karelia Overture
Sibelius: Violin Concerto
Zavaro: New Work†
Beethoven: Symphony #7
Good
Awesome
Wildcard
Awesome
               
 


 
 
05/30
2013
Smetana: Wallenstein's Camp
Beethoven: Violin Concerto
Dvořák: Symphony #6
Excellent
Awesome
Awesome
                   
06/13 Britten: War Requiem Nervous                    
06/20
2013
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto #1
John Luther Adams: Become Ocean
Nervous
Okay
                   
06/27
2013
Saint-Saëns: Organ Symphony
Wagner: Tristan: Prelude and Liebestod
Wagner: Tannhäuser Overture and Venusberg Music
Awesome
Okay
Excellent
                   
Week Program Comments 21 13 7A
7B
7C
7D
7E
7F
7G 4A BS SU WG

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)
BS Beyond the Score multimedia lecture-concert (Sunday afternoons)
SUSymphony Untuxed (Fridays)
WGWolfGang (Various evenings)
Premiere

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. The WolfGang series is available only to members of the WolfGang club.

This chart doesn't include "one-off" concert series such as the Mainly Mozart or Distinguished Artists series. A "one-off" series is a concert series which shares no concerts with any other series.

Changes from last season:

  • The Rush Hour series was redesigned and became the Symphony Untuxed series.
  • Symphony Specials was dropped.
  • The Baroque & Wine Series and Mainly Mozart concerts still exist, but I dropped them from the table since they are now one-off series.
  • WolfGang already existed but I added it to the list now that there's room for it.

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 don't like minimalism, and I suspect they don't like serialism, so I rated the Adams and Berg down even though I think they're quite good. They also don't like vocal pieces. On the other hand, it turns out that I overcame my Bruckner jinx, so I can at least give the Bruckner a positive score this time. Let's just hope it's not the Hass edition.)

  • 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).