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Spanish Fever at Grant Park

Flamenco Dancer

Flamenco Dancer

Grant Park Orchestra live, Wednesday at 6:30 pm

Christian Tetzlaff plays Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole.

February-March 1875, Paris – Within the span of one month, the Parisians saw the premieres of Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole and Bizet’s Carmen.  For the audience, there was something different, something exotic about those pieces – eventually people would be whistling them in the streets.


Violinist Christian Tetzlaff
















It took time for those works to gain traction – especially for Carmen (tragically Bizet had only a few months to live, and would never know Carmen‘s popularity). Lalo’s Symphonie, written for Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate, wasn’t regularly performed intact until Yehudi Menuhin took it up in the 20th century. Nevertheless, both pieces anticipated a host of other works, all written in the Spanish style by people who were not Spanish, including Ravel, Chabrier, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Lalo looked to the southwest for the Symphonie, filling it with irregular rhythms (see the score) taken from Spanish folk music, especially flamenco.

Until the 1870s, the German school had dominated European music outside of Italy. The French appetite for German culture cooled, however, in the wake of the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871); right when Bizet and Lalo were working on those pieces.

Download the score to Lalo’s Symphonie_espagnole,_Op._21_(orch._score)


The Scherzando movement of Lalo’s “Symphonie espagnole” puts accented chords on different beats, upsetting the rhythmic pattern. (click to enlarge)

Q. Have you ever tried to count along with Lalo’s Symphonie? It’s tricky to count out the second movement without following the music. (See page 41 in the score.) Part of the movement’s charm comes from the irregularly accented chords.

The Grant Park Orchestra welcomes violin soloist Christian Tetzlaff as soloist in Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole. Carlos Kalmar conducts a program that includes a symphony by Ernest Chausson and Halffter’s Tiento. WFMT’s live broadcast of the concert begins at 6:30.




  • Ivan sandager

    Have you done any Subjective comparisons on the output of the earphones?
    I do appreciate the subjective comparisons – but Punch, harsh & nasal are very tricky to compare.

    In Dr. Olive and Dr. Killion, you have two of the worlds most respected acoustical experts – who certainly know their way around a test set up!

  • How do you account for the difference in stereo width, given that the earbuds are plugged into each ear directly? Was the HF response greater in those buds with which you experienced a wider image?