Kensington Symphony Orchestra begins its 2024/25 season at Smith Square Hall on Monday 14 October, when conductor Russell Keable leads the group in a performance of Richard Strauss’s tone poem Ein Heldenleben, or ‘A Hero’s Life’ (1898).

Begun when the composer was staying in a mountain resort in Bavaria, the work was designed to illustrate the “ideal of great and manly heroism”. Although Strauss denied that he was the protagonist of the title, it features an effusive violin solo depicting his wife Pauline, plus caricatures in the woodwind and brass of his adversaries in the music press.

Alternately swaggering and sweet, the six-section piece – written while Strauss was simultaneously working on Don Juan – also contains more than 30 quotations from his earlier works, including Also sprach Zarathustra, Till Eulenspiegel, Don Quixote and Death and Transfiguration.

The concert opens with Samuel Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal (1931) – the young composer’s first work for full orchestra, which helped to establish his reputation. Written on holiday in Italy during a break from his studies in Philadelphia, and intended to reflect the spirit of Sheridan’s 18th-century comedy of manners, it is energetic, fast-paced and characterised by orchestral brilliance.

The orchestra also performs Vítězslava Kaprálová’s Suita Rustica (1938), written two years before her death from typhoid fever aged 25. Kaprálová, who studied with fellow Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů, was commissioned by Universal Edition to write the three-movement work, which is by turns lyrical and exuberant, and bears the influence of Stravinsky’s Petrushka.