Dearborn Symphony’s 49th season opens Friday with renowned horn player

Karl Pituch

Karl Pituch

The Dearborn Symphony, under the direction of Kypros Markou, kicks off its 49th season shining the spotlight on renowned French horn player Karl Pituch.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Friday at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., following Jim Walters insightful and humorous preview of the music at 7 p.m., free with a concert ticket.

The program opens with Rossini’s “Semiramide” overture. Karl Pituch, Detroit Symphony principal horn, will perform Giovanni Punto’s “Horn Concerto No. 5.”
Beethoven’s “7th Symphony” concludes the concert.

“Semiramide” is a concert overture version of a bloody opera which tells the fate of an evil Babylonian queen. The overture opens with a typical Rossini crescendo, followed by one of the most beautiful chorales for French horn in the literature — Rossini’s father was a horn player, and it was the first instrument he learned as a youth.

A typical frenzy of energy follows, which calls for near-virtuoso playing in every section. The overture to “Semiramide” is considered Rossini’s best, even though the “William Tell” is his most-played.

The concert continues with Punto’s “Horn Concerto No. 5” performed by Pituch. Punto was the professional moniker for the Bohemian composer born Johann W. Stich. His horn concerti are musically ornate and virtuosic with a lyrical, operatic element evocative of Paganini, Bellini, and early Rossini. Interestingly, a young Beethoven accompanied Punto (and composed his “Op. 17” for him). In an early review of the duo, one critic, after praising Punto’s talent, queried, “But who’s this Beethoven?”

Pituch was named principal horn of the Detroit Symphony in 2000. He previously served as principal and guest principal horn with orchestras across the United States, including the Honolulu Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

As soloist, Pituch has performed with orchestras in Japan, Hawaii, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. He can be heard on many recordings with the Dallas, San Francisco and Honolulu symphony orchestras.

Said composer John Williams about Pituch: “Your performance of my horn concerto went beyond horn playing and the difficulties found therein, and revealed historical, poetic and atmospheric allusions that I’d always hoped the music might reveal. I admired your playing enormously …”

Pituch’s credits include grand prize winner of the 1989 American Solo Horn Competition and finalist at many other solo competitions. He is currently the horn instructor at Wayne State University. He started in the music world as a pianist, then played trumpet and switched to horn 39 years ago.

The concert concludes with Beethoven’s “7th Symphony,” composed in 1811-12 when he was almost totally deaf. It is characterized as being a dance piece, often without melody, but with constant forward motion. The final movement is a furious allegro, which pushes on to the end with practically no pause. All sections of the orchestra are continually pushed toward their limits of endurance by the dynamic writing.

“The audience senses exhilaration rather than exhaustion as the work rushes to its conclusion, with the horns blaring like trumpeting elephants above the strings, whose stampede must remain ever under control, even though its momentum cannot possibly be diverted. A virtuoso work for the orchestra, it never fails to rouse excitement in its audiences.”

Critics and listeners have often felt stirred or inspired by the “7th Symphony.” Composer and music author Antony Hopkins wrote of the symphony: “The ‘Seventh Symphony’ perhaps more than any of the others gives us a feeling of true spontaneity; the notes seem to fly off the page as we are borne along on a floodtide of inspired invention. Beethoven himself spoke of it fondly as ‘one of my best works.’”

Tickets ranging from $30 to $15 in balcony, box and lower level are available by calling (313) 565-2424 or at the theater box office. Go to for more information.

The Dearborn Symphony has partnered with local restaurants to offer a 20 percent diners’ discount for symphony ticket holders on concert nights. Advance reservations are recommended at Andiamo Dearborn, Crave, The Dearborn Inn, The Henry, La Pita, Kiernan’s & Silky’s, and Ollie’s.