Walter is now best known as a conductor, but in the early years of the 20th century, he was an active composer considered important by Viennese critics. He completed his First Symphony in 1907, conducted its premiere in Vienna in 1909, and led another performance in Strasbourg in 1911.
By the 1910s, however, as Walter's conducting career blossomed‹he led the world premieres of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Ninth Symphony in 1911 and 1912‹he stopped composing, and in later years was critical of his own work, according to biographer Erik Ryding.
The program also includes two pieces by Hans Pfitzner: the Violin Concerto and the Palestrina Preludes. Pfitzner was a friend of Walter's and a champion of his music whose own works (other than the opera Palestrina) have also been largely forgotten, in his case because of his enthusiastic embrace of the Nazis.
Founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski and currently led by Leon Botstein, the ASO performs thematically organized programs, often with links to literature and other art forms. Botstein conducts tonight's performance; Alexander Markov is the violin soloist.