Festival Opening with Shostakovich and Xenakis

Opening in just one week will be musikfest berlin 09, Berlin’s international orchestral festival, organized by the Berliner Festspiele in collaboration with the Berliner Philharmoniker, which acts as an upbeat to Berlin’s concert season. Featured in 24 events at the Berlin Philharmonic and at the Konzerthaus will be more than 50 works by 26 different composers – each piece resonating with the pulse of 20th century history, often referred to as the “age of extremes” (Eric Hobsbawm).

The centre point of this year’s program is the musical oeuvre of Dmitri Shostakovich, nearly all of whose symphonies will be performed, in conjunction with works by Iannis Xenakis, Joseph Haydn, Alban Berg, Paul Dessau, Béla Bartók, Sofia Gubaidulina, and many others. Participating this year are altogether 21 high-ranking orchestras, ensembles, and choirs hailing from the US and Europe, including the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the five great orchestras of Great Britain: the BBC Symphony Orchestra joined by its first guest conductor, David Robertson; the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Kurt Masur; the Philharmonia Orchestra London with Vladimir Ashkenazy; the London Symphony Orchestra with principal conductor Valery Gergiev; and in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with its new music director, Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra opens the festival on September 4th with works by Iannis Xenakis, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and the 9th Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich. This spectacular special programme will be offered beforehand in the context of this year’s Proms Concerts on September 2nd at London’s Royal Albert Hall. It will be repeated two days later at the Berlin Philharmonic to open musikfest berlin 09. The conductor will be David Robertson, and the evening’s soloists will be percussionist Colin Currie and baritone Leigh Melrose.

Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony will be performed on Saturday, September 5th by the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam under the direction of Mariss Jansons, widely regarded as among today’s outstanding Shostakovich interpreters. Additional highpoints of our Shostakovich focus at musikfest berlin 09 include a concert on September 11th by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Bernard Haitink conducting the 15th Symphony of Shostakovich in conjunction with Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, four musikfest berlin 09 events will be devoted to the theme of “Deutschland-Lieder” (Songs of Germany): Helmut Lachenmann’s singular and seldom performed Tanzsuite mit Deutschlandlied (Dance Suite with the German Anthem) will be given together with Mozart’s Gran Partita on September 9th by the SWR Sinfonieorchester and the Arditti Quartet at Konzerthaus Berlin. Performed on September 3rd, on the eve of the opening concert, will be Karlheinz Stockhausen’s epochal electronic poem Hymnen (Hymns), a collage of more than 40 national anthems, and Haydn’s Kaiserquartett (Emperor Quartet) – the original source for the melody of Germany's national anthem – will be played by the Pellegrini Quartett on September 19th. On September 16th, finally, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the direction of Ingo Metzmacher will perform Hanns Eisler’s magnum opus, the Deutsche Sinfonie (German Symphony), a musical and political statement that deals with a half-century of recent German history. Press release, August 27, 2009