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Schnittke's Seventieth Birthday

Ten years ago Sikorski Publishers celebrated the 60th birthday of one of their most important authors and dedicated a Festschrift of over three hundred pages (Alfred Schnittke zum 60. Geburtstag, Ed. 1526) to him on this occasion. Jrgen Kchel wrote the following in the Foreword: "With demonic diligence, great human commitment, a modern way of writing, achieved through energetic density and strong originality (which he had to defend against cultural-political enemies for many years) and, finally, with the ingenious style of polystylism - arising out of his inner universality - Schnittke has created an unusually rich life's work." Four years later, Schnittke died after a long period of suffering. He never recovered from his third and most severe stroke. In his adopted home city, Hamburg, his memory was honoured with a bust, exhibited in the foyer of the Hamburg Musikhalle next to great classical and romantic composers.

24 November 2004 marks Schnittke's seventieth birthday, with many concerts and projects taking place on this day.

All six of Schnittke's Concerti Grossi will be performed at the Beethoven Festival 2004 in Bonn on 2 and 3 October 2004, with the Kremerata Baltica and the Beethovenhalle Orchestra Bonn. The violin soloist will be Gidon Kremer, with Roman Kofman conducting. All six Concerti Grossi will also be performed with the RSO Vienna and the Kremerata Baltica with Gidon Kremer on 23 November 2004 and 26 November 2004. The Concerto Grosso project is to be repeated with local orchestras in the autumn of 2004 in Moscow, Riga and Chicago.

In mid-October a Schnittke Festival will take place in Moscow, organised by the Moscow Philharmonic with support from the German Embassy in Moscow and led by Tamara Gutkova, a good friend of the Schnittke family. The final concert on 19 October 2004 with the works "(K)ein Sommernachtstraum," Viola Concerto and Symphony No. 8 will be conducted by Kurt Masur. The Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin is planning one or two concerts in the autumn of 2004 with performances (some of them premieres) of Schnittke's film music suites.

The record company CPO is issuing a collection of film music by Schnittke in a series of five CDs, recorded by the RSB under the direction of Frank Strobel. Almost all of the film scores contained therein were previously unknown and are therefore first issues.

The Hamburg Symphony Orchestra are planning three concert projects: in September 2004 Kathrin Scholz (violin) will perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto with Schnittke's cadenzas. On 23/24 October 2004 the orchestra will perform Schnittke's renowned Faust Cantata. At the same concert, the Cello Concerto arrangement by Cord Garben of the Brahms Double Concerto will also be performed. The soloist will be Alexander Ivashkin (violoncello) conducted by the Hamburg Symphony's new Music Director, Andrej Borejko. Finally, on 24 November 2004, the composer's birthday, there will be a concert consisting only of works by Schnittke with film music scores directed by Frank Strobel.

The NDR are planning two Schnittke concerts on the weekend following the composer's birthday. One is an orchestral concert on 27 November 2004 with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra Hanover; the other is a choral concert on 28 November 2004 with the NDR Choir (including the "Penitential Psalms").

The Schnittke Institute in Moscow is publishing a Schnittke book in cooperation with the German Embassy in Moscow. This book will deal especially with the composer's relationship to Germany and German culture.

The Royal Opera Stockholm will take up the Schnittke ballet "Peer Gynt" again on 17 January 2005.

The Dutch premiere of the Violin Concerto No. 2 with Alexander Ivashkin and the Noord Nederlands Orchest Groningen under Michel Tabachnik is planned for 26 May 2005.

The Basle Symphony Orchestra under their new Music Director, Marko Letonja, will be performing Schnittke's Requiem and another work in May 2005. Juriaan Cooiman, who plans diverse cultural projects in Basle, intends to integrate this concert into a small Schnittke Festival on the occasion of the composer's 70th birthday.

At the Holland Festival in June 2005, the general theme of which is "Russia," one of the main points of emphasis will be the oeuvre of Alfred Schnittke.