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Jubilees 2019

Jubilees 2019

“The best way to honour Mozart would be not to play him at all for a year!”

This was a desperate sigh in the Mozart year 2006. In fact, the celebration of composer anniversaries always threatens to degenerate into a commercial event – the more prominent the name, the more so.

On the other hand, an anniversary year offers the opportunity to rediscover lesser-known or even largely forgotten composers and to put their works to the test. Ideally, the interest in such a rediscovery outlasts the special events of the commemorative year and enriches the repertoire with the one or other unjustly forgotten work.

After the quiet diverse year 2018 with the round days of birth and death of Gioachino Rossini, Claude Debussy and Leonard Bernstein – and before the celebrations of Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020 the next Mega-Event will come – the big names are missing from the 2019 festival calendar. All the more unknown – and hopefully exciting – things we can discover again.

The names of Johann Rosenmüller and Barbara Strozzi, one of the few composers of the 17th century known by name, are probably unknown outside expert circles. Both celebrate their 400th birthday in 2019.

As little as the works of Roman Haubenstock-Ramati or Mieczysław Weinberg, both of whom were born 100 years ago, have become generally known so far. Especially in his hometown Augsburg the 300th birthday of Leopold Mozart will be commemorated, who thus gets the chance to be perceived as a composer and not only as the strict father of Wolfgang Amadeus.

The friends of the lighter muse finally get their money’s worth this year, as the two became fathers of the operetta – Jacques Offenbach and Franz von Suppé – born 200 years ago, and are perhaps completely new to discover apart from their well-known works.

The three most prominent jubilees of 2019 are also three special cases: Clara Schumanns also accessible to laymen Lieder and piano works still don’t get the attention they deserve, Hector Berlioz is still mainly present with one work – the Fantastic symphony – on the concert podiums and the compositional work Hans Pfitzners is still overshadowed by the discussion about his role in nationalsocialism.

At this point we will introduce you in the course of the year even more precisely with all the jubilees and their works - so check back regularly!

Joy, fair spark of the gods

On Christmas Day 19 years ago, 25 December 1989, a moving concert event took place in the Berlin Konzerthaus on Gendarmenmarkt: just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leonard Bernstein conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with musicians and singers from East and West Germany, as well as from the countries of the four Allied victorious powers France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the USA. A minimal intervention in Schiller’s text made the “Ode to Joy” to the “Ode to Freedom” – and provides a goose-skin effect every time you hear it again.

By commemorating this legendary concert, we pay tribute to Leonard Bernstein. Like no other, he embodied the humanitarian and unifying power of music. In a time of increasing specialization, he was one of the last universal musicians: pianist, composer, conductor and, last but not least, gifted teacher and music mediator. Fortunately, many of his inspiring concert introductions and instructive orchestra rehearsals have been preserved as videos. The fact that many classical stars today specifically want to inspire young people with music is referred to in his honour as the Bernstein Effect.

Also in his compositional work Bernstein crossed with great ease the boundaries between popular and classical music. His musicals are best known: the melodies from West Side Story are among the most popular of the 20th century and are available in countless arrangements. The lively Overture to Candide or the symphonic suite from the film music to On the Waterfront are now also part of the standard repertoire for concert bands.

His most beautiful songs are available in three extensive Anthologies. Less known are his works for the concert hall, such as the extraordinarily casted Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium”, the Chichester Psalms or his three original contributions to the genre of symphony neglected in the 20th century.