Vaughan Williams’ Fifth Symphony

Widely celebrated and acclaimed conductor Andrew Manze and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’ fifth symphony, a work that rewards both introspective listening and carefully following the music’s exquisite details. Before that, together with the Swedish Radio Choir, they perform three of Handel’s Coronation Anthems: festive and elegant works, interpreted by one of the foremost performers of early music.

The concert was broadcasted live in Swedish Radio P2 and on Berwaldhallen play Friday May 29 at 7 pm.

George Frideric Handel was born in Halle in 1685, but we usually think of him as an English composer. Handel first entered the British music scene at the age of 25 and worked at an almost feverish tempo throughout his extensive career. Composer, teacher, organist, harpsichordist, impresario, theatre manager and businessman all belong on Handel’s CV and in time, he became a very successful musician.

Early on, Handel was favoured by the court and the aristocracy. As early as 1710, the Elector of Hanover hired Handel as Kapellmeister, the same man who later became King George I of Great Britain and Ireland. King George also appointed Handel court composer and by 1727, he was made a citizen of Great Britain. The king passed away later the same year and Handel was given the prestigious task of writing music for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline.

The coronation ceremony took place in October 1727 at Westminster Abbey, and according to witnesses, Handel had great musical forces at his disposal: close to 50 singers and 160 players. The Coronation Anthems, four in total, sound festive and magnificent with plenty of trumpet fanfares and jubilant choral parts that are tempered by more formal, courtly sections that highlight the dignity of the occasion. The anthems became popular during Handel’s life and he reused parts of them in several of his oratorios.

If Handel is an example of a naturalised Englishman, Ralph Vaughan Williams was about as English as one can imagine. He was born in Gloucestershire in South England and studied at the Royal College of Music and at Cambridge. Many still think of him as the most typically English of the country’s many composers, possibly because of the prominence in Vaughan Williams’ music of the idyllic and romantic idiom often associated with English music.

This pastoral, idyllic element also plays an important role in his fifth symphony, which he started sketching out right before the start of the Second World War. The symphony’s often peaceful, calming atmosphere is however not to be taken for a lack of depth or sophistication. In spite of the relatively limited forces required, Vaughan Williams has created a symphony that contains both compact passion and magnificent, rich musical colours.

The fifth symphony premiered in 1943 during the Proms festival in London, conducted by the composer himself, and was a great success. He later dedicated the symphony to Jean Sibelius. Much point to the fact that, among his nine symphonies, the fifth had a special place in Vaughan Williams’ heart. In advance of a concert commemorating his 80th birthday, Vaughan Williams was asked which symphony he wanted performed, and picked the fifth.

Vaughan Williams’ music fascinated English violinist and conductor Andrew Manze early in his career. Manze has since performed many of his works with several orchestras in Europe and the United States. He has also recently finished recording a critically acclaimed cycle of the complete Vaughan Williams symphonies with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Together with the Swedish Radio Choir he will also perform a choral piece by Ralph Vaughan Williams: Rest, a setting of a poem by 19th century poet Christina Rossetti, also famous for pieces like In the Bleak Midwinter and Love Came Down at Christmas

Axel Lindhe



dot 2019/2020





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.


32 professional choristers make up the Swedish Radio Choir: a unique, dynamic instrument hailed by music-lovers and critics all over the world. The Swedish Radio Choir performs at Berwaldhallen, concert hall of the Swedish Radio, as well as on tours all over the country and the world. Also, they are heard regularly by millions of listeners on Swedish Radio P2, Berwaldhallen Play and globally through the EBU.

The award-winning Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš was appointed Chief Conductor of the Swedish Radio Choir in 2020. Since January 2019, its choirmaster is French orchestral and choral conductor Marc Korovitch, with responsibility for the choir’s vocal development.

The Swedish Radio Choir was founded in 1925, the same year as Sweden’s inaugural radio broadcasts, and gave its first concert in May that year. Multiple acclaimed and award-winning albums can be found in the choir’s record catalogue. Late 2023 saw the release of Kaspars Putniņš first album with the choir: Robert Schumann’s Missa sacra, recorded with organist Johan Hammarström.

Engelske dirigenten och violinisten Andrew Manze hyllas som en av sin generations mest inspirerande dirigenter med en kombination av både bred och djup repertoarkännedom, sällsynt kommunikationsförmåga och en osviklig utstrålning. Han var chefsdirigent för NDR Radiophilharmonie, Nordtyska radions symfoniorkester 2014–2023 och sedan 2018 är han förste gästdirigent för Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Han är återkommande gäst vid Mostly Mozart Festival i New York City och har den senaste tiden arbetat med orkestrar som Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mozarteumorkestern i Salzburg, Concertgebouworkestern och Finska radions symfoniorkester, och lett Chamber Orchestra of Europe på turné i Tyskland.

Med NDR Radiophilharmonie har Andrew Manze gjort prisbelönta inspelningar av verk av Felix Mendelssohn och Mozart. Han har även spelat in Ralph Vaughan Williams samtliga symfonier med Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. I november 2016 beskrevs han av The Telegraph som ”den bäste av alla nu levande Vaughan Williams-uttolkare”. Han är också verksam som lärare, musikskribent och redaktör, Fellow vid Royal Academy of Music och gästprofessor vid Norges musikhögskola i Oslo.

Approximate duration: 1 hr 40 mins