Conductor Juraj Valčuha
La strada suite for orchestra from the film’s music
Star Wars Suite
An American in Paris symphonic poem for orchestra
The music of Nino Rota (1911-79) “is music without quotes and, therefore, such that it can return feelings – large or small ones – in their immediate spontaneity”. Forty years after his death, the interest not only in his famous soundtracks is summarized by the fortune of the ballet La Strada (1966), strong point of the Corps de Ballet of the Teatro alla Scala, where it was presented with an unforgettable Carla Fracci in the role of Gelsomina and where Rota’s music translated the deepest roots of the film. This is how the director Federico Fellini summarised the themes captured by Rota: “nostalgia, remorse, regrets, the tale of betrayed innocence, the hope of a clear life made of trusting relationships, and the impossibility or betrayal of all this”. Rota perfected himself between 1930 and 1933 at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, precisely in the years when the popularity of George Gershwin (1898-1937) was at its peak, having brought symphonic jazz with works such as Rhapsody in blue and the refined symphonic poem An American in Paris (1928). If Rota had gone to America to study on Toscanini’s advice, almost every American composer came to Europe, especially to Paris, to the school of Nadia Boulanger, who did not want to give lessons to Gershwin, considering him perfectly mature. Composers of soundtracks, such as Rota, or of musicals like Gershwin, were not taken very seriously as composers in the broad sense, and only in recent years have these suspicions fallen. Today, soundtracks are even the object of admiration as a full-fledged musical genre. Among the contemporary American composers, a prominent place belongs to John Williams (1932-), creator of brilliant collaborations with Steven Spielberg and music for the most famous science fiction saga at the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first century, the Star Wars saga by director George Lucas, from which he created a suite in 2005.
Juraj Valcuha is Music Director of the Teatro di San Carlo, Naples and First Guest Conductor of the
Konzerthausorchester Berlin. He was Chief Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai from 2009 to 2016.
He studied composition and conducting in Bratislava, St Petersburg (with Ilya Musin) and Paris where he made his debut with the Orchestre National de France in 2005. He has since led the Philharmonia, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle, Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Rome and Milan’s Filarmonica della Scala. In North America Juraj Valcuha has led the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh, Boston, San Francisco, Cincinnati, National, Minnesota, Cleveland and Montreal symphony orchestras. Touring with Orchestra della Rai took them to the Abu Dhabi Classics, Cologne, Zurich, Munich, Musikverein in Vienna and Philharmonie in Berlin.
In 2016-17 and 2017-18 he returned to the New York Philharmonic in New York and at Bravo!Vail Festival as well as to the Minnesota, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Detroit, Cincinnati and Montreal orchestras. He also had his début with the Chicago Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. In Europe he joined the Orchestre de Paris, the Munich and Czech Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, Swedish Radio and NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, as well as the Turin’s Rai Orchestra and the Rome’s Accademia di Santa Cecilia.
On the opera stage, he recently conducted Prokofiev’s The Love for three oranges and Faust in Florence, Jenufa and Peter Grimes in Bologna as well as Elektra, Carmen, Tosca, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at Teatro San Carlo di Napoli.
Highlights of Juraj Valcuha’s 2018-19 season include a return engagement with the New York
Philharmonic, productions of Janacek’s Katja Kabanova and Wagner’s Die Walküre in Naples’Teatro San Carlo, Salomé in Bologna, concerts with the BBC, Vienna, Montréal, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Dallas symphony orchestras and a tour of the Baltic countries with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin.