Musikfest Berlin 2015 dedicates one of its festival focal points to composer Arnold Schönberg
Together with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Berliner Festspiele present the rarely performed oratorio “Die Jakobsleiter” by Arnold Schönberg in September as part of the Musikfest Berlin 2015. Schönberg the composer is among the thematic focal points of this year’s festival.
The Musikfest Berlin 2015 (2 – 20 September) presents Arnold Schönberg’s “Die Jakobsleiter”, an oratorio that was never completed, at the Philharmonie on17 September. The early counterpart to the opera “Moses und Aaron”, which celebrated its premiere at the Komische Oper Berlin on 19 April, represents Schönberg’s interest in Judeo-Christian spirituality, and is a milestone in his extensive oeuvre.
The work, which is rarely realized because of the elaborate production required, will be performed at the Musikfest Berlin 2015 by the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the Rundfunkchor Berlin under Ingo Metzmacher, featuring soloists Thomas E. Bauer, Daniel Behle, Matthias Wohlbrecht, Martin Gantner, Boaz Daniel, Gerhard Siegel, Edda Moser and Daniela Fally, as well as over 200 performers.
Ingo Metzmacher: “Even though ‘Die Jakobsleiter’ has remained a fragment and Arnold Schönberg never completed the work, it is a central piece that especially highlights the composer’s position. The work was written at a decisive time of change: during this period Schönberg departed conceptually from Mahler, and also from the idea of composing an even larger symphony in response to Mahler’s 8th, and in doing so took the decisive step out of this world. ‘Die Jakobsleiter’ is the first, independent work after this step was taken. What interests me the most in this piece as a musician is working with this giant machine, and that at the end the music disappears upwards into space like a soaring kite thanks to the implementation of music played by offstage ensembles – something we often realize with musicians in Berlin and not, as so often otherwise, with the aid of electronics. Content aside, this sonic process in space that Schönberg created here is something very new and visionary.”
Schönberg’s music has been made a festival focal point at this year’s Musikfest with the performance of 19 of his works in 16 of the 30 concerts in total. In doing so, the music of the “Second Viennese School” – following the “Berg Festival” at the Staatsoper Berlin in February 2015 – will be presented in a concentrated form once again and freshly illuminated in the context of works by Beethoven, Mahler, Nielsen, Berg and contemporary composers. On 3 September Daniel Barenboim and his Staatskapelle Berlin open the Musikfest Berlin 2015 with a pure Schönberg programme: “Verklärte Nacht” for string orchestra op. 4 (1899/1917), Five Pieces for Orchestra op. 16 (1909) und Variations for Orchestra op. 31 (1926-1928) are on the programme, three works from Arnold Schönberg’s central phases of creativity.
Daniel Barenboim: “Only a handful of composers in the history of classical music had the ability to not only summarize the developments of an entire era of composition, but also to bring it to its apex – and at the same time to show the way to a radically different paradigm or style. Beethoven and Schönberg are without a doubt among these few individuals.”
Also participating in the large-scale Schönberg cycle are the Berliner Philharmoniker with Sir Simon Rattle conducting (18.-20.09.), as well as composer Matthias Pintscher as conductor (12./13.09.), the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin with chief conductor Marek Janowski (16.09.) and guest orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas (04.09.), the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with Zubin Mehta (06.09.), the SWR Sinfonierorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg with François-Xavier Roth (07.09.) and the Royal Danish Orchestra with Michael Boder (14.09.).