Beethoven’s overture quickly acquired an independent life from its original ballet. It is a straightforward and rousing curtain-raiser celebrating the heroic aspects of the mythical bringer of fire and life. Elgar’s masterpiece concerto is a powerful yet understated evocation of the English countryside and psyche; the music is private and poignant but it still remains a richly lyrical and noble work. It is written as two pairs of movements with the solo cello in full focus with its bold statements and heart-rending themes. Tchaikovsky’s final symphony explores the metaphysics of death – the fact that we are made of flesh and blood, and that we will all die. The composer hinted to his friends and admirers that the work might contain secret messages, but he never told them what they were. “Let them guess” he said.