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Bregenz Festival 2010

At the focal point of the 2010 Bregenz Festival are the life and the musical production of the Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg.

Many of his works will be performed from 21.07. until 22.08. in the provincial capital of Vorarlberg. A special highlight will surely be the Western premiere of his opera “The Portrait” on 31.07. During the course of a three-day Weinberg Symposium (31.7. – 2.8.2010), Weinberg experts, interpreters and contemporaries from England, Germany and Russia will attempt to pinpoint the compositional genius Mieczyslaw Weinberg together with David Pountney, the Music Director of the Bregenz Festival.

Exile was both a curse and a blessing for Weinberg. On the one hand, as a Polish Jew, it saved him from being murdered by the Germans, but on the other hand drove him into Stalin’s horror regime. His father-in-law became a victim of the Stalin dictatorship in 1948; Weinberg himself was arrested in 1953 but released after the death of the dictator. His response to this ever-present danger was a lifelong musical productivity. David Pountney even sees the “third man” in Weinberg, alongside the two great compositional geniuses of the Soviet Union, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

“We want to celebrate Weinberg’s survival and his ability to create this uninterrupted stream of music throughout his entire extremely difficult life. The breakdown of the Soviet Union would have almost buried Weinberg underneath it, but we want to attempt a resurrection – the joyful rebirth of an amazing talent!” say the organisers.
Shortly before the beginning of the festival, an extensive article about Mieczyslaw Weinberg by his biographer David Fanning appeared in the specialist journal OPERNWELT (July 2010), during the course of which Sofia Gubaidulina and Krzysztof Meyer also make extensive statements about their contemporary and colleague who died in 1998.
Fanning, whose excellent biography “Mieczyslaw Weinberg: The Search for Freedom” was just recently issued by Wolke Verlag, writes in OPERNWELT: “Now, Weinberg’s operas are anything but autobiographical dramatisations. The composer was a modest private citizen who never stylised himself as a victim and despised those of his colleagues who did so. Of course he was deeply affected by the loss of his parents and sister during the flight from Poland. He later found out that she had perished in the transit camp of Trawniki (near Lublin). He paid tribute to the memory of her and their Polish fellow sufferers – and ultimately all the victims of the Second World War – in a series of songs, cantatas and symphonies (...), in his first two operas and in orchestral works which are either dedicated to his family or quote the key passages from the two aforementioned operas. As is well known, Shostakovich dedicated one of his works – String Quartet No. 8 – to the victims of war and fascism, but even this dedication is to be evaluated as a kind of cover towards the authorities. Weinberg, on the other hand, wrote such explicit or implicit dedications on dozens of his works – he wanted to keep alive the memory of the horror of the war.”

Sofia Gubaidulina says the following in her contribution about Weinberg: “I listened to this profound music from afar, which was at the same time luxuriant and modest, transparent and penetrating, free and sad, bright and dramatic.”
And Krzysztof Meyer added: “As a composer I admire his light touch, his speed, his technical mastery.”

Here is an overview of the programme of the Bregenz Festival focussing on Mieczyslaw Weinberg:

25 July 2010 - Seestudio
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: “Three Plams“ after verses by Michail Lermontow for soprano and string quartet  op. 120 – Austrian premiere
Talia Or (soprano), EOS Quartet Vienna

29 July 2010
– Theater am Kornmarkt
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: “The Portrait“. Opera in 3 acts – Dress rehearsal
John Fulljames (direction), Vienna Symphony, Rossen Gergov (cond.)

31 July 2010 – Theater am Kornmarkt
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: “The Portrait“. Opera in 3 acts – Western premiere
John Fulljames (direction), Vienna Symphonyi, Rossen Gergov (cond.)

1 August 2010 - Festspielhaus
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Symphony No. 6 for boy's choir and orchestra op. 79 – Austrian premiere
Vienna Boys Choir, Vienna Symphony, Vladimir Fedoseyev (cond.)

2 August 2010 - Seestudio
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: String Quartet No. 15 op. 124 – Austrian premiere
Quatuor Danel

3 August 2010 – Theater am Kornmarkt
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: “The Portrait“. Opera in 3 acts
John Fulljames (direction), Vienna Symphony, Rossen Gergov (cond.)

5 August 2010 – Theater am Kornmarkt
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: “The Portrait“. Opera in 3 acts
John Fulljames (direction), Symphony Orchestra Vorarlberg, Rossen Gergov (cond.)

9 August 2010 - Festspielhaus
Judith Weir: “Concrete – a motet about London“ for speaker, choir and orchestra
Vienna Symphony, Dmitri Jurowski (cond.)

15 August 2010 - Festspielhaus
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Sinfonietta No. 1 d minor op. 41 – Austrian premiere
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Concerto for trumpet and orchestra B minor op. 94 – Austrian premiere
Jürgen Ellensohn (trumpet), Vienna Symphony, Gérard Korsten (cond.)

 

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