U P C O M I N G  E V E N T S

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ALEXANDER ZEMLINSKY: Kammersymphonie (arr. Richard Dünser)


Fergus McAlpine: Conductor


Zemlinsky Chamber Orchestra

Zemlinsky’s second string quartet is seen by many as the composer’s largest instrumental work. Written between 1913-1915, he dedicated it to his former student and brother-in-law, Arnold Schoenberg. Around this time, Schoenberg’s marriage to Mathilde Zemlinsky was on the brink of collapse, as she was having an affair with the painter Richard Gerstl, one of Schoenberg’s closest friends. This piece as a result isn’t so much a gift to Schoenberg, rather it was a very powerful message from Zemlinsky to his sister, pleading for her to return to her husband and two children. Reluctantly, she did return to her family and not long afterwards, Gerstl committed suicide.

The music itself is built upon two musical themes, both similar in sound but also counteract each other: the first is referred to as the “motif of the self”, an ascending series of three notes (D-E-G), heard right at the beginning. The second is known as the “motif of the other”, which is identical to the first motif, but with an added fourth note at the end. The motif, in the piece’s core key, D major, roughly spells out Mathilde: (m)-A-(t)-H-(il)-D-E, and is heard in many different forms, but never truly appears in its purest form until the very end of the piece - creating a real emotional climax. 

Additionally, one could also argue that other than this piece being about the relationship between Schoenberg and Mathilde Zemlinsky, the “self” could refer to Zemlinsky, pining over his ex-partner, Alma Mahler Schindler, as the “other”. He wrote to Alma after the piece’s completion, telling her: “Only you know exactly what this piece means.”

Richard Dünser’s arrangement on the piece is based on the orchestration of Schoenberg’s Kammersymphonie, Op. 9. He remarked “it made sense to release the explosive symphonic force of this work - whose sound is restricted in the original version by the instrumentation for string quartet - in scoring for a larger ensemble.” (Dünser, 2013).

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FRANZ SCHUBERT: Viola (arr. Fergus McAlpine)


Fergus McAlpine: Conductor

Katherine Weber: Soprano

Lisa De Bruycker: Harp


Zemlinsky Chamber Orchestra


“Viola is one of Schubert’s lesser known ballads. As we recorded shortly after Schubert’s birthday (31st January) this performance is our very own “Schubertiad”. Additionally, what made this piece so perfect at the time was the fact that the violet is the flower of February - it was fate!

To orchestrate this piece properly, I wished to emphasise the idea that Schubert’s songs are duets, and not simply a voice and accompaniment. Drawing inspiration from Mozart’s concert aria “Chio mi scordi”, for soprano, piano and orchestra, I decided to add Harp as a second soloist, bringing out new colours from Schubert’s romantic musical language.” (Fergus McAlpine, 2021)

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GUSTAV MAHLER: Symphony No. 4 (arr. Klaus Simon)


Fergus McAlpine: Conductor

Katherine Weber: Soloist


Zemlinsky Chamber Orchestra


We invite you to the premiere of our first virtual concert, streamed on YouTube! During this time we are all very thankful to continue making music while concerts and other artistic productions are continuing to be cancelled. This way (by keeping to The Netherlands Coronavirus regulations) you are able to see us in action, wherever you are in the world!


Mahler’s 4th Symphony is widely regarded by musicians and audiences alike for being the composer’s most “Neoclassical” symphony - looking backwards toward a more traditional style, rather than looking to the future by exploring into a new compositional style. Although this is true in many regards, what makes this piece stand out from the rest of his symphonies is the ideas of humanity, the afterlife (as described in the text of the 4th movement) and the theme of parody that resonates through the work. Mahler described a symphony as (paraphrasing) “..like the world, it must embrace everything!”, and this piece, instead of being an almighty monument like the 2nd or 3rd symphonies that came before, takes this same ideal but on a much more down-to-earth, basic human level. For this reason, the 4th can be seen as Mahler’s most profound work.

To not be able to perform live puts us all in a difficult situation and in order for the ZCO to function, we need your support.

Whether it’s a little or a lot, you are still helping us keep our artistic spark alight!

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