Serenade after Plato's "Symposium"
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The Serenade, after Plato: Symposium, for solo violin, strings and percussion is a five-movement concerto written by Leonard Bernstein in 1954. For the Serenade the composer draws inspiration from Plato's Symposium, a dialogue of related statements in praise of love, each statement made by a distinguished speaker. The seven speakers who inspired Bernstein's five movements are:
- I. Phaedrus: Pausanias—marked lento and allegro
- II. Aristophanes—marked allegretto
- III. Eryximachus, the doctor—marked presto
- IV. Agathon—marked adagio
- V. Socrates: Alcibiades—marked molto tenuto and allegro molto vivace
Although the Serenade is scored for violin, strings, harp and percussion (timpani and five more percussionists playing side drum, tenor drum, bass drum, triangle, suspended cymbal, xylophone, glockenspiel, chimes, Chinese blocks, tambourine), the violin is the most prominent solo instrument. The work can therefore be considered a violin concerto.
The composition is about a half-hour in length.
Commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Serenade was dedicated to Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky. The premiere was conducted by Bernstein himself on September 12, 1954, in La Fenice (Venice), with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Isaac Stern. It was also first recorded by Stern and Bernstein for Columbia Records on April 19, 1956, in New York City, with the Symphony of the Air.
- Bernstein Season: Serenade after Plato's Symposium , a BBC programme on the work.