Part of the pleasure of watching a football or cricket match comes from an intimate knowledge of the rules: without even being a player yourself. The same could be said about classical music.

Asher Fisch, West Australian Symphony Orchestra Asher Fisch

To be sure, years of listening can develop an intuitive understanding of the way music works its magic. But a more disciplined study of music history and theory – whether formal, private or self-motivated – adds greatly to one’s appreciation and understanding of the art of its greatest practitioners, whether they be composers or interpreters.

On this occasion we had the benefit of both: the music of three of the greatest exponents of the Classical symphony, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven – and two masterly interpreters, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor Asher Fisch – in a highly entertaining and informative lecture-demonstration-concert.

Such mastery of the classical symphony’s conventions and idioms was underscored by an astonishingly good performance of Haydn’s Symphony No 31 played a prima vista. Fisch’s point was that many of Haydn’s symphonies were first performed like this, without any rehearsal at all.

Certainly, the famous Mannheim court orchestra could have pulled off...

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