Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What Is One To Make Of A Contemporary Classical Music Culture Which Is Alternatively Highly Serious And Downright Ridiculous?

"An opera by Richard Wagner -- whose music and anti-Semitic writings influenced Adolf Hitler -- will be performed at an open-air theater built under the Nazis by an orchestra made up of Israeli and Arab musicians conducted by a Jew.

Daniel Barenboim told Germany's Die Zeit newspaper that the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he co-founded, plans next year to perform the first act of Wagner's ''Die Walkuere'' at Berlin's Waldbuehne -- an arena built by the Nazis as part of the complex for the 1936 Olympics [and which was modeled on the old Theater-Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, Greece].

''Can you imagine that?'' Barenboim was quoted as saying in the interview, released Wednesday. ''The Waldbuehne was built by Hitler. The music is Wagner. Played by us! Hitler and Wagner would turn in their graves.''

Barenboim said the Divan Orchestra, made up of young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories [and Future State of Palestine]and neighboring Arab countries, is ''clearly'' the most important musical project of his life.

He and the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said founded the group in 1999 in a gesture for peaceful co-existence in the Middle East."

Associated Press "Wagner Opera to Be Performed in Berlin" New York Times October 17, 2007

[Click on images for enlargement.]

Photo credits: (c) Warner Classics via East-West Divan Website; and (c) Royal Opera House, Covent Garden via On An Overgrown Path. All rights reserved. With thanks.

[Mr Cogito spent his first nights ever in Europe sleeping underneath the huge Berlin Olympic Stadium, then in use (until 1994) as the British occupation headquarters in Berlin.]


Closer to 'home' : Next Tuesday, the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, under Yuri Temirkanov and sponsored by WPAS, will be performing MOZART - Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492; BEETHOVEN - Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 61; and PROKOFIEV - Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, Op. 100. [Program notes link here.]

On Friday, October 26, the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra will be joined by acclaimed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko for a performance of SHOSTAKOVICH'S politically charged Symphony No. 13, op. 113 “Babi Yar,” inspired by Yevtushenko's famous poem about the 1941 Soviet-concealed Nazi massacre in Kyiv/Kiev, Ukraine. The concert opens with SIBELIUS'S one-movement masterpiece, Symphony No. 7 in C Major, op 105. [More about Yevgeny Yevtushenko's University of Maryland residency, click here.]

SIBELIUS, SHOSTAKOVICH, AND PROKOFIEV (except for his early 'Classical' Symphony #1) are among the master composers banned from the airwaves of the current WETA/WGMS-FM, in the Nation's Capital.


Blogger musicalbloviator said...

Years ago at the beginning of Temirkanov's tenure in Baltimore, Yevtushenko came and did a reading of Babi Yar and then the BSO performed Shostakovich 13 in a performance greater than any I've ever heard of it (except for Gergiev's Proms broadcast last year). It was one of the great experiences of my life.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Garth Trinkl said...

Thank you for commenting.

In early April of 2003, I heard Temirkanov conduct the work with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic and Chorus, in Philharmonic Hall, Petersburg; with Yevtushenko in attendance. I hall's surrounding 'balconies' were packed with young people (and old people). (I've heard Yevtusenko on one or two occasions read his poems himself at the Library of Congress.)

The program opened with a first (or maybe second) Saint Petersburg Philharmonic performance of Rachmaninoff's very late Symphonic Dances. It was one of the great experiences of my life, as well.

That same week I saw Prokofiev's Semyon Kotko, at the Mariinsky. Do you know that work? (I'm hoping that Valery Gergiev will bring the Kirov/Mariinsky production to the Kennedy Center sometime before the ten-year winter 'cultural exchange program' ends in a few years time.

Thanks again. I'll look forward to hearing how you find the student performance at the University of Maryland a week from now.

11:43 AM  

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