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Sunday, April 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: City’s symphony orchestra marks a milestone with Beethoven’s Fifth

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

The Spokane Symphony Orchestra had grown to the point where it could now attempt “one of the most difficult numbers for any orchestra in the world to play”: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

It was planning to play that piece later in the week, and conductor Leonardo Brill said that when the symphony had just formed, back in 1913, it could never have played it.

“It takes musicians who have played together much and become closely accustomed to one another,” said Brill, between rehearsals for the big concert.

One of the symphony’s early problems was a difficulty in “getting the right sort of instrumentation.” That problem was now solved. The symphony now had 39 musicians, including a harpist.

The other problem back in the early days was a lack of money.

“In 1913, we practiced together for many weeks, meeting probably for 30 rehearsals, and we divided $15 apiece among us for our two concerts, $7.50 apiece, including the conductor,” said Brill. “That was not much of an encouragement for us to continue our organization, was it? But we have kept at it, and, happy to say, have had better results financially in later years.”

He said that the value to a city of a symphony orchestra “cannot be overestimated – when people become educated to a symphony orchestra, they support it royally.”

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