Chief Conductor Daniel Harding leads the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 – a tempestuous piece that begins suddenly, ‘in medias res’, as if the listener opened a door to the music where the orchestra was already playing in full swing. Dvořák’s dramatic orchestra overture for Othello – the final part of a triptych of overtures the composer wrote based on William Shakespeare – will also be performed.

The concert will be broadcasted on the Swedish Radio P2 September 24 at 7.03 am.


dot 2021/2022





The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is a multiple-award-winning ensemble renowned for its high artistic standard and stylistic breadth, as well as collaborations with the world’s finest composers, conductors, and soloists. It regularly tours all over Europe and the world and has an extensive and acclaimed recording catalogue.

Daniel Harding has been Music Director of the SRSO since 2007, and since 2019 also its Artistic Director. His tenure will last throughout the 2024/2025 season. Two of the orchestra’s former chief conductors, Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen, have since been named Conductors Laureate, and continue to perform regularly with the orchestra.

The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra performs at Berwaldhallen, concert hall of the Swedish Radio, and is a cornerstone of Swedish public service broadcasting. Its concerts are heard weekly on the Swedish classical radio P2 and regularly on national public television SVT. Several concerts are also streamed on-demand on Berwaldhallen Play and broadcast globally through the EBU.

Daniel Harding is Music and Artistic Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, with whom in 2022 he celebrated his 15-year anniversary. In the 2014/2015 season, he devised and curated the celebrated Interplay Festival, featuring concerts and related inspirational talks with renowned artists and academics. As Artistic Director, he continues this type of influential programming. Harding is also Conductor Laureate of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom he has worked for over 20 years, and Music Director of Youth Music Culture, The Greater Bay Area in China. The 2024/2025 season will be his first as Music Director at the Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome.

Harding is a regular visitor to the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Wiener Philharmoniker, Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Staatskapelle Dresden and the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala. In the US, he has appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony. A renowned opera conductor, he has led acclaimed productions at the Teatro alla Scala Milan, Wiener Staatsoper, Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, and at the Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg Festivals. He was Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, the Anima Mundi festival of Pisa, and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Daniel Harding tours regularly with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, performing at prestigious venues all over Europe and the world, and has recorded several acclaimed and award-winning albums with the orchestra. His tenure as Music and Artistic Director will last throughout the 2024/2025 season. “It is increasingly rare that the relationship between a conductor and an orchestra not only lasts for more than a decade, but keeps growing,” he says about working with the orchestra.

In 2002, Harding was awarded the title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government, and in 2017 nominated to the position Officier des Arts et des Lettres. In 2012, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. In 2021, he was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Daniel Harding grew up in Oxford, England, and played trumpet before taking up conducting in his late teens. He is also, since 2016, a qualified airline pilot.


Julia Kretz-Larsson is the assistant first concertmaster of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2015. She is also a member of the chamber music ensemble Spectrum Concerts Berlin who, in addition to having their own concert series at the Berlin Phiharmonic, has performed at venues including Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She is a former member of both the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and leader of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

She is also an active chamber musician, having performed with Janine Jansen, Isabelle Faust, Cecilia Zilliacus, Torleif Thedéen and others, and played at internationally renowned festivals in Salzburg, Utrecht and Schleswig-Holstein, as well as the Schubertiade in Voralberg and Vinterfest in Mora, Sweden. She has recorded chamber works for labels such as BIS, dB and Harmonia Mundi, and the 2018 album Amanda Maier vol. 3 was awarded a Swedish Grammy Award. As a member of the Julius Stern Piano Trio, she has won prizes at international competitions in Florence, Berlin and Trieste.

Julia Kretz-Larsson teacher violin at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. She is a Berlin native, has studied under Professor Marianne Boettcher, under Professor Thomas Brandis at the Berlin University of the Arts, and in Prague for Josef Suk.


Approximate timings

Johannes Brahms wrote his symphonies in pairs: the first and second during the years 1876-1877 and the third and fourth between 1883 and 1885. The first three were immediately highly successful, but Brahms himself was initially dubious about the fourth. Such was the composer’s need for a second opinion that he made an arrangement for two pianos that he and the pianist and composer Ignaz Brüll performed to a small, select group of friends.

But the work was not warmly received. After the first movement the music critic Eduard Hanslick, who was otherwise so positive about Brahms’s music, is said to have stated: “Throughout the movement it felt as if I was being beaten up by two terribly intelligent people.” His good friend Max Kalbeck was deeply disappointed, and begged Brahms to scrap the two middle movements, which he found inappropriate. The violinist Joseph Joachim, another close friend and collaborator, was likewise bemused. But in the course of time, after having heard the orchestral version, they all changed their minds and came to consider the fourth symphony one of Brahms’s very greatest works.

It’s easy for today’s music aficionados to dismiss these initial reactions as being ill‑considered, but if the response is instead taken seriously it actually provides a key to understanding the work. Joachim had the idea of starting the first movement with two bars of held chords. This suggestion indicates an important feature, namely that the symphony begins abruptly, in medias res, as if opening the door on an orchestra that has already played several bars. Hanslick’s reaction draws attention to the violent nature of the first movement. The symphony is sometimes deemed to be tragic, but it can equally be described as being acerbic or astringent.

Kalbeck, who criticised the middle movements, was the only one to approve of the final movement even after only having heard the piano version. Others did not think it could hold its own as a symphonic finale, in part probably because it remains in the minor throughout, even ending with a minor chord – something that was, and is, relatively unusual. Another reason may have been the fact that the last movement is a passacaglia – a form deriving from a dance popular during the Baroque period and comprising a series of variations over a bass line or chord sequence.

Text: Tore Eriksson

Approximate concert lenght: 55 min