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Composer Portrait

Mozart from present-day perspectives

Confronting Mozart with the 21st century: at the Mozartfest, this includes juxtaposing his art with new and very recent music. Every year, the oeuvre of a particular composer is spotlighted, and analysed in connection with Mozart. »I am confident«, says Jörg Widmann, the Composer Portrait of the 2014 Mozartfest, »that this juxtaposition will change the way we listen to both Mozart and our own music«. Jörg Widmann, Toshio Hosokawa, Aribert Reimann, Wolfgang Rihm, Arvo Pärt and Unsuk Chin have been the previous composers portrayed, and have presented their works, in some cases commissioned by the Mozartfest. The portraits are accompanied by conversations and composition classes under the aegis of the MozartLab, and provide insights into working methods, aesthetic positions and current perspectives on Mozart’s creative oeuvre.

Composer Portrait 2020: Ludwig van Beethoven

A new viewpoint for an established series. In 2020, the Composer Portrait spotlights not a contemporary composer, but Ludwig van Beethoven. As one of the three so-called »Viennese classics« he is commonly regarded as inseparably linked to Mozart. But neither of them was in his lifetime aware of being a »classic«. »Alone the freedom for renewal is in the world of art the purpose, as in all of God’s creation«, was Beethoven’s avowed artistic creed. Art and music were for him of existential urgency, freedom a necessity for exploring boundaries, redefining them, and once again transcending them.

But even a Beethoven did not compose in complete detachment from time and space. He reacted to his present and was inspired by his role models. Mozart ranks among the constants in Beethoven’s creative life: »I have always counted myself among Mozart’s greatest admirers, and will do so until my dying breath.« Mozart’s works frequently acted as starting points and incentives for Beethoven’s creative energies. The Mozartfest explores where there are commonalities, what the two maestros have in common, and what separates them.

In addition, the year 2020 is a fitting occasion to explore more closely the births of 1770:  like Beethoven, Friedrich Hölderlin and Friedrich Witt – Würzburg’s last Court Director of Music – were also born in that year. Their artistic oeuvre »Geboren 1770« is a major focus of the 2020 Mozartfest.

The fact that even as a young man Beethoven had to struggle with the progressive loss of his hearing finds an echo in the six-part series entitled »Sinn(e)!«: this deals with altered perceptual worlds and the interaction of the senses in terms of musical receptiveness.