In his debut collaboration with the Czech Philharmonic, Sir Simon Rattle, one of the most respected conductors in the world, will perform pieces of Antonín Dvořák and Gustav Mahler. Magdalena Kožená and Simon O'Neill will be performing vocal parts in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.
We would like to inform you that all three concerts will be recorded on film cameras.
The Golden Spinning Wheel, symphonic poem, Op. 109
INTERVAL – 20ʼ
Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)
- Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde (The Drinking Song of Earthly Woe)
- Der Einsame im Herbst (The Solitary One in Autumn)
- Von der Jugend (Youth)
- Von der Schönheit (Beauty)
- Der Trunkene im Frühling (The Drunkard in Spring)
- Der Abschied (The Farewell)
SIR SIMON RATTLE
Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. From 1980 to 1998, Sir Simon was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was appointed Music Director in 1990. He moved to Berlin in 2002 and held the positions of Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker until he stepped down in 2018. Sir Simon became Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in September 2017 and spent the 2017/2018 season at the helm of both ensembles.
Sir Simon has made over 70 recordings for EMI record label (now Warner Classics) and has received numerous prestigious international awards for his recordings on various labels. Releases on EMI include Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (which received the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance) Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortileges, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. From 2014 Sir Simon continued to build his recording portfolio with the Berliner Philharmoniker’s new in-house label, Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings, which led to recordings of the Beethoven, Schumann and Sibelius symphony cycles. Sir Simon’s most recent recordings include Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Turnage’s Remembering, and Ravel, Dutilleux and Delage on Blue-Ray & DVD with the London Symphony Orchestra’s record label, LSO Live.
Music education is of supreme importance to Sir Simon, and his partnership with the Berliner Philiharmoniker broke new ground with the education programme Zukunft@Bphil, earning him the Comenius Prize, the Schiller Special Prize from the city of Mannheim, the Golden Camera and the Urania Medal. He and the Berliner Philharmoniker were also appointed International UNICEF Ambassadors in 2004 – the first time this honour has been conferred on an artistic ensemble. Sir Simon has also been awarded several prestigious personal honours which include a knighthood in 1994, becoming a member of the Order of Merit from Her Majesty the Queen in 2014 and most recently, being given the Freedom of the City of London in 2018.
From 2013, Sir Simon took up residency at Baden-Baden Osterfestspiele performing Die Zauberflöte and a series of concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker in his first season. Since then the partnership led to performances of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Peter Sellars’s ritualization of Bach’s St. John Passion, Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and most recently, Parsifal in 2018. For Salzburg Osterfestspiele, Rattle has conducted staged productions of Fidelio, Così fan tutte, Peter Grimes, Pelléas et Mélisande, Salome and Carmen, a concert performance of Idomeneo and many contrasting concert programmes. He has also conducted Wagnerʼs Der Ring des Nibelungen with the Berliner Philharmoniker for Festival dʼAix-en-Provence and Salzburg Osterfestspiele and most recently at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Wiener Staatsoper. Other recent opera productions for Sir Simon include Pelléas et Mélisande and Dialogues des Carmélites for the Royal Opera House; L'Étoile, Aus einem Totenhaus, Káťa Kabanová and La damnation de Faust for the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, and Andrew Norman’s A Trip to the Moon at the Barbican Centre, London.
Sir Simon has longstanding relationships with the leading orchestras in London, Europe and the USA; initially working closely with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra, and more recently with The Philadelphia Orchestra. He regularly conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker, with whom he has recorded the complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos with Alfred Brendel and is also a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Founding Patron of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
During the 2018/2019 season Sir Simon will embark upon tours to Japan, South Korea and Europe with the London Symphony Orchestra. He will conduct the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and will return to the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin for Hippolyte et Aricie, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks for Die Walküre and the Berliner Philharmoniker for Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. In March 2019 he will conduct Peter Sellars’ revival of the St. John Passion with both the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Magdalena Kožená was born in the Czech city of Brno and studied voice and piano at the Brno Conservatory and later with Eva Blahová at Bratislava’s Academy of Performing Arts. She has been awarded several major prizes both in the Czech Republic and internationally, culminating in the Sixth International Mozart Competition in Salzburg in 1995.
Magdalena was signed by Deutsche Grammophon in 1999 and immediately released her first album of Bach arias on its Archiv label. Her recital debut recording, an album of songs by Dvořák, Janáček and Martinů, appeared on Deutsche Grammophon’s yellow label in 2001 and was honoured with Gramophone’s Solo Vocal Award. Her releases for Deutsche Grammophon have included for example Prayer for voice and organ with Christian Schmidt (2014) and Love and longing with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Simon Rattle (2012). She was named “Artist of the Year” by Gramophone in 2004 and has won numerous other awards since, including the Echo Award, Record Academy Prize, Tokyo, and Diapason d’or. In 2017 she began a long-term relationship with Dutch classical music label Pentatone, and is due to release an album with them in 2019.
Kožená has worked with many of the world’s leading conductors, Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mariss Jansons, James Levine, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Roger Norrington and Sir Simon Rattle. Her list of distinguished recital partners includes the pianists Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Malcolm Martineau, András Schiff and Mitsuko Uchida, with whom she has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, and at the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh and Salzburg festivals. Kožená’s understanding of historical performance practices have been cultivated in collaboration with outstanding period-instrument ensembles, including the English Baroque Soloists, the Gabrieli Consort and Players, Il Giardino Armonico, Les Musiciens du Louvre, La Cetra Barockorchester Basel, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Venice Baroque Orchestra and Le Concert d’Astrée. She is also in demand as soloist with the Berlin, Vienna and Czech Philharmonics and the Cleveland, Philadelphia and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras.
Kožená first performed at the Salzburg Festival in 2002 as Zerlina in Don Giovanni and returned in 2013 as Idamante, a role she has also sung for the Glyndebourne Festival and in Berlin and Lucerne. Kožená made her first appearance at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 2003 as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and has since been a regular guest, including amongst others the title-role in Jonathan Miller’s production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande in 2010/2011. Other opera credits also include Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Royal Opera House, 2007), Oktavian in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (Berlin Staatsoper, 2009 and Baden-Baden Easter Festival, 2015), the title-role in Bizet’s Carmen (Salzburg Easter and Summer Festivals, 2012), Charpentier’s Médée (Basel Opera, 2015) Martinů’s Juliette (Staatsoper Berlin, 2016) or Magueritte in Berliozʼs La Damnation de Faust (Staatsoper Berlin, 2017).
Magdalena began the 2018/2019 season by joining the baroque ensemble, Collegium 1704 on a tour of the Czech Republic and German. In December 2018 she made her role debut as Phèdre in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie at the Deutsche Staatsoper under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. Other engagements this season include Handel’s Messiah with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati, St. John’s Passion both with the Berliner Philharmoniker, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a recital tour with pianist Mitsuko Uchida, and Das Lied von der Erde with Sir Simon Rattle, and the Czech Philharmonic.
Kožená was appointed a Chevalier de lʼOrdre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2003 for her services to French music.
A native of New Zealand, Simon O’Neill has established himself as one of the finest helden-tenors on the international stage. He has frequently performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Berlin, Hamburg and Bayerische Staatsopern, Teatro alla Scala and the Bayreuth, Salzburg, Edinburgh and BBC Proms Festivals, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Sir Antonio Pappano, Pietari Inkinen, Pierre Boulez, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Colin Davis, Simone Young, Edo de Waart, Fabio Luisi, Donald Runnicles, Thomas Hengelbrock, Jaap Van Zweden and Christian Thielemann.
Simon’s performances as Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Pappano, Teatro alla Scala and Berlin Staatsoper with Barenboim, at the Metropolitan Opera with Runnicles in the celebrated Otto Schenk production returning with Luisi in the Lepage Ring Cycle and in the Götz Friedrich production at Deutsche Oper Berlin with Rattle were performed to wide critical acclaim. He was described in the international press as “an exemplary Siegmund, terrific of voice” and “THE Wagnerian tenor of his generation”.
During this season’s engagements Simon makes his debut at both Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony and Andris Nelsons; the Toronto Symphony with Sir Andrew Davis and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana with Henrik Nánási as Siegmund in concert performances of Die Walküre. Simon returns to stage productions with Oper Leipzig under Ulf Schirmer, the Bayerischer Staatsoper under Kirill Petrenko and Berlin Staatsoper with Daniel Barenboim.
Simon makes his debut with the Hallé Orchestra in the title role of Wagner’s Siegfried with Sir Mark Elder in performances at both the Edinburgh Festival and in Manchester and returns to the Wiener Staatsoper as Parsifal. Simon also makes important role debuts; Calaf in Turandotat the Deutsche Oper Berlin; and Der Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Berliner Staatsoper. Simon is delighted to make his staged role debut as the title role of Siegfried in the 2021 new Stefan Herheim / Donald Runnicles production for Deutsche Oper Berlin.
On the concert stage, Simon performs Mahler’s Symphony No.8 at the Edinburgh Festival and the Baltic Festival with Daniel Harding; the BBC Proms with Thomas Søndergård and in Paris with Valery Gergiev; Gürrelieder with the Spanish National Orchestra in Madrid with David Afkham; Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass under Pietari Inkinen in Prague. He will also perform Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde in Paris with Gergiev, in Berlin with Robin Ticciati and in Prague with Czech Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle.
In May 1908, Gustav Mahler returned to Europe after his first season in New York. He spent the summer holiday in Toblach, South Tyrol, where he began composing Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) to texts from the collection Die chinesische Flöte (The Chinese Flute), adaptations of Chinese poetry by Hans Bethge (1876–1946). Mahler finished the fair copy of the score the following autumn while staying in the Moravian town Hodonín. The solo parts had originally been intended for tenor and baritone, but for the sake of contrast Mahler revised the work for a male and a female voice (tenor and alto). The motif that Mahler introduces at the beginning in the French horns is present throughout the work, and it undergoes constant transformations; it is said to prefigure the tone rows that would become a compositional principle of Arnold Schoenberg. Mahler never abandoned tonality, but his harmonies use all of the degrees of the chromatic scale, and he typically employs a mixture of the major and minor modes. The declamatory vocal line does not carry the melody. The principles of sonata form are discernible in the first movement, The Drinking Song of Earthly Woe (the second strophe can be interpreted as a sonata development section). The Solitary One in Autumn represents the slow movement of the cycle, Youth takes the place of a symphonic scherzo, and the fourth movement, Beauty, can be understood as a second scherzo. The fifth movement, The Drunkard in Spring, conceals irony. Its hints of resignation form the transition to the last movement, The Farewell, where one actually finds the symphony’s centre of gravity. The fading repetitions of the word “ewig” (forever) create a sort of invisible transition into the unknown, into the afterlife.
Gustav Mahler did not live to see a performance of Das Lied von der Erde. The premiere took place half a year after his death on 20 November 1911 in Munich with Bruno Walter conducting. The soloists were the tenor William Miller and the American alto Mme Charles Cahier (whose real name was Sarah Jane Walker). Das Lied von der Erde was first performed in Bohemia on 3 April 1913 at the third subscription concert of the New German Theatre under the baton of Alexander Zemlinsky. The soloists were Maria Philippi and, once again, William Miller. The last pre-war performance there took place in Prague at a Philharmonic Concert of the Orchestra of the New German Theatre on 12 February 1934 with George Szell conducting. During the years of worldwide catastrophe that followed, Mahler’s name and music had to disappear from programmes. After the war, Das Lied von der Erde was first heard on 21 March 1947 under Rafael Kubelík’s baton at a concert of the Czech Philharmonic.
Between 1896 and 1897, Antonín Dvořák composed five symphonic poems, four of which are based on verses from the collection Kytice (A Bouquet) by Karel Jaromír Erben (1811–1871). Although Dvořák surprised many people by turning to the composing of programme music, this was not as sudden a development as it might have seemed. He had already written three programmatic overtures (In Nature’s Realm, Carnival Overture, Othello), and there were other hints of his interest in extra-musical subject matter. Erben’s collection was first published in 1853. We do not know when the poems came into Dvořák’s possession, but already by 1871 he had based his song Sirotek (The Orphan) on one of them, then in 1884 he composed the cantata The Spectre’s Bride. The three symphonic poems based on Kytice – The Water Goblin, The Noon Witch, and The Golden Spinning Wheel (Zlatý kolovrat) – were composed within a very brief time span in early 1896, and a fourth, The Wood Dove, followed just a few months later.
The ballad The Golden Spinning Wheel is a poetic treatment of a fairytale by Božena Němcová. Dvořák’s Golden Spinning Wheel was premiered privately by the Orchestra of the Prague Conservatoire conducted by Antonín Bennewitz on 3 June 1896. The public world premiere took place on 26 October 1896 in London under the baton of Hans Richter. In Vienna, Josef Hellmesberger conducted The Golden Spinning Wheel on 3 November 1901. A critic wrote that Dvořák’s “long, boring work would hardly inspire the listener’s interest in becoming familiar with the poem on which it is based.” This can be explained somewhat by the comment that the subject matter was “strikingly similar to Mahler’s Das klagende Lied,” which had been premiered that February.
The subject matter of The Golden Spinning Wheel was surprising, as was the free form of its musical treatment, which subjugated to the dramatic action of the story. While the first reactions were cautious, positive aspects of the work were also noted. The objections to the composition grew after Dvořák’s death. The music was criticised for being illustrative, episodic, fragmentary, and too slavishly bound to its (unspoken) text at the expense of musical logic. The motivic material binds the form together. Dvořák works with “characteristic” motifs and their variants (for example, an accompanimental motif from the “hunting scene” is developed into the spinning wheel theme), which can also express their opposites (e.g. the motif of the king has the same nucleus as the motif of the step-mother). A rhythmic ostinato represents the turning of the spinning wheel, and the spinning wheel motif runs through the whole piece, and it can be felt as a premonition of evil even in Dvořák’s lyrical song of love. The music of The Golden Spinning Wheel is, however, viable and comprehensible on its own, independent from its textual basis, because of the balanced symbiosis of all of its compositional elements, further enhanced by Dvořák’s splendid orchestration.
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