For the third time, the cover page of our festival programme is a collage, featuring iconic images that without a doubt belong to our collective memories. For example, there’s the Hall of Stars in the Queen of the Night’s Palace, designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1816. The great architect conceived the rooms of the »Magic Flute» from the spirit of classicism, not without incorporating romantic elements from his own era. Almost at the same time, Caspar David Friedrich created his auratic painting »Wanderer above the Sea of Fog«, which did not turn up until the 20th century, by the way. Inbetween: Mozart, who was claimed by the romanticists as one of their own, because they heard (or believed they heard) their personal sense of life echoed in part of his music. »Mozart – a romanticist?« is the motto of the 2019 Mozart Festival. The question is not an easy one to answer, but it opens up aural perspectives that confirm what musicological researchers have long been postulating: classicism and romanticism can be comprehended as a single unit. This is not a self-evident proposition, but there’s a lot to be said for it.
It is in this awareness that the programmes for the 2019 Mozart Festival have been put together, as always in close collaboration with the performers concerned. They feature works by Mozart that have been widely perceived as romantic, like the two Symphonies in G Minor or the Piano Concerto No. 17 with its harmonically sophisticated slow movement (Pierre-Laurent Aimard will be playing it). »Don Giovanni« – for the 19th century Mozart’s most important opera – forms the starting point for a series of events: the original will be performed in the Imperial Hall (with the Lautten Compagney conducted by Wolfgang Katschner), a multi-medial collage with Lillevan – a major star among the video artists – in the urban ambience of the Bürgerbräu, a musical-literary programme featuring Corinna Harfouch in Bronnbach Monastery, a child-friendly version for families in the Music Academy.
A major role in the festival’s programme is played by composers who are only now being gradually rediscovered, and who with their music straddle the gap between classicism and romanticism, or better: are embedded in the midst of the epoch that subsumes both of these – Dussek, Hummel, Arriaga, Méhul. And then, of course, there are those who out of a romantically coloured experiential backstory idolise Mozart in genuflectory adoration: Chopin, for example, Tchaikovsky or the Schumann couple. One group of concerts is devoted to Clara Schumann, commemorating the 200th anniversary of her birth, and honouring her as one of the great Mozart performers of the 19th century. There is one premiere to anticipate: Aribert Reimann, who ranks among the outstanding composers of our time, has arranged lieder by Clara for soprano and string quartet.
Unsurprisingly, the 2019 Artiste étoile is a singer: Mozart’s ability to capture affective moods through the human voice was emulated by composers who were subsequently categorised as romanticists. The tenor Julian Prégardien, a celebrated lieder singer and a regular guest at leading opera houses (particularly in Mozart roles), has prepared five exclusive concert projects, and for his evening with Schubert’s »Winter Journey« has invited one of his Artiste-étoile predecessors: Kit Armstrong. This is the first time the two of them will be working together. Schubert’s lieder will be juxtaposed with piano compositions by Mozart. The lieder of the Romantic Era or also: the romantic element in lieder (from Mozart to Alma Mahler) will be explored by young singers and pianists conducted by the celebrated lieder pianist Gerold Huber in the Mozart Laboratory, which this year, too, will constitute a major focus of the festival. A quartet of critics from the German Record Critics’ Prize will be discussing old and new lieder recordings. The composer’s portrait is devoted to the multiple-award-winning Korean Unsuk Chin, who has just been honoured with the Kavis Prize of the New York Philharmonic. An ex-pat living in Berlin, she studied under György Ligeti and names Mozart as one of her most inspiring role models. Her works will also be heard within the framework of the new format, which we introduced last year with spectacular success: »Reverberations in the Echo Chamber«. Another evening in this series combines Anton Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony (»Romantic«) with Luigi Nono’s String Quartet »Fragments – Stillness, For Diotima«.
One of the romantic era’s premier instruments is represented by two exceptional soloists: Christoph Ess with Ligeti’s Horn Concerto and Radovan Vlatković with Mozart’s Horn Concerto. There are some new venues this year, extending our radius outside the city itself: the imposing Wöllried Estate in Rottendorf or St. Michael in Thüngersheim. In Würzburg, we shall for the first time be staging concerts at the Cathedral Museum and at St. Kilian’s Chapel in the Heavenly Gates Retreat House. Another new initiative is our collaboration with the Podium Festival in Esslingen, which will be contributing its expertise in innovative concert formats at the Lounge Amadé in the Odeon.
Many of the world-class performers who have enriched the Mozart Festival in recent years will be returning: Isabelle Faust, Ragna Schirmer, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Nils Mönkemeyer, for example, Sakari Oramo and Jonathan Nott (for the first time with his Orchestre de la Suisse Romande). Heinz Holliger continues his Schubert cycle. Those making their debut at the Mozart Festival include Hervé Niquet with Le Concert Spirituel. He progresses our series with original-sound experts, which has already hosted John Eliot Gardiner, Marc Minkowski and René Jacobs.
These are just some of the highlights in a richly varied programme that extends from Mozart Day and a musicalliterary
exploration all the way through to Jupiter Night. You are assured of a warm welcome at the 2019 Mozart