Richard Strauss, a leading composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras, is known for his epic works: epic in scope, epic in instrumentation, and epic in scale. It is for this reason that for most of the 50-year history of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, his orchestral works were beyond reach.

Many of his works not only stretch orchestras to the very limit, but are written for large ensembles that would have been unthinkable in previous eras. Only after its transformation into a full-sized orchestra in 2008 could the MPO even consider to perform the German’s composers work.

Ein Heldenleben – A Hero’s Life – is generally believed to be autobiographical in nature. Arguably most technically difficult Strauss’ work for an orchestra, it serves as an ultimate test of what the national orchestra has become.

For this occasion, the orchestra will be directed by the internationally-acclaimed Dutch-Maltese conductor Lawrence Renes, while the London Symphony Orchestra’s co-leader Carmine Lauri will be the guest orchestra leader, tackling violin solos in Strauss’ work which are infamous for their difficulty. The concert will feature musicians from the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia.

The concert will also feature a performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto, for which the MPO will be joined by Latvian concert pianist Inese Klotiņa. Written when Rachmaninoff was just 18 but later extensively revised, it showcases both his youthful freshness as well as his subsequent development into a mature and brilliant composer.

This concert is supported by the Valletta 2018 Foundation.