The boundaries of classical music
During October, Stingray Brava presents composers who broke through the boundaries of the genre: Ludwig van Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No. 9’ and Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Sacre du Printemps’. Moreover, Stingray Brava broadcasts documentaries about the composers Erik Satie, John Cage, and Arvo Pärt.
Stingray Brava pays special attention to a number of composers and compositions that have become landmarks in the history of classical music. Some composers single-handedly marked the transition to a new style or period, or set in motion musical developments that would influence future generations of composers. During October, Stingray Brava broadcasts a number of their boundary-breaking compositions.
On Wednesday, October 12 at 12:00 CEST, Stingray Brava broadcasts Claudio Monteverdi’s ‘Vespro della beata vergine’. The Italian composer marked the transition from Renaissance to Baroque and bridged the gap between the ‘Prima Prattica’ (‘first practice’), in which strict counterpoint rules determined the use of dissonant intervals, to the so-called ‘Seconda Prattica’ (‘second practice’), which allowed composers to take considerably more liberties.
On Wednesday, October 19 at 19:40 CEST, Stingray Brava broadcasts Ludwig van Beethoven’s ‘Ninth Symphony’, performed by deFilharmonie under the baton of Philippe Herreweghe. Beethoven’s last symphony is seen as one of the most important works of classical music. The composer bridges the gap between the classical period of the late 18th century, and Romanticism, which started in the early 19th century. Beethoven is generally viewed as one of the great innovators in the history of classical music. His sonatas and symphonies broke through the genre’s boundaries: within the sonata form, he allowed themes and melodies to transform and to develop, which was unheard of at the time. Moreover, Beethoven used much larger orchestras than were common in the classical period: his Symphony No. 9 requires the participation of a full choir. Beethoven’s musical style set the example to countless future generations of composers, including Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, and Johannes Brahms.
On Saturday, October 8 at 18:30 CEST, Stingray Brava broadcasts Richard Wagner’s ‘Siegfried Idyll’. Compared to the other great composers, Richard Wagner developed his musical talents relatively late in life: he was already 15 years old when he received his first composition lessons. All the same, the German composer brought about major innovations within the opera genre: his contribution would change the genre for good. Wagner’s music is characterised by its complexity, its novel harmonies, and its intricate structure. Wagner based his operas predominantly on myths and legends. A marked difference between Wagner and other opera composers is that Wagner wrote both libretto and music by himself. What’s more, Wagner was the first to use a so-called ‘Leitmotiv’ in his operas: a theme or musical fragment which represents a certain character or idea.
On Wednesday, October 26 at 21:00 CEST, Stingray Brava broadcasts the documentary ‘Satiesfictions - Saunters with Erik Satie’. Erik Satie occupies a unique position in the history of music. The eccentric French composer was a colourful figure in the Parisian avant-garde at the dawn of the 20th century. Satie’s music looked forward to minimalism and surrealism. Stingray Brava broadcasts two more documentaries about the boundaries classical music has broken in the 20th century: the award-winning documentary ‘Journeys of Sound’ about the American composer John Cage, and the documentary ‘The Lost Paradise’, in which cult director Robert Wilson and the hugely popular contemporary composer Arvo Pärt discuss their creative processes during the making of their ‘Adam’s Passion’.
The boundaries of the genre are not the only boundaries the classical music world is concerned with: Stingray Brava broadcasts several documentaries in which political and diplomatic boundaries take centre stage. On Tuesday, October 25 at 14:00 CEST, the documentary ‘Americans in Pyongyang’ will be broadcast, in which members of the New York Philharmonic are the first American company to visit North Korea for a performance in its capital Pyongyang. On Saturday, October 29, the documentary ‘Das Reichsorchester’ discusses a dark period in the existence of the Berlin Philharmonic: the period of 1933 to 1945, during the Nazi regime.
These programmes and much more are part of Stingray Brava’s October theme ‘The boundaries of classical music’, from October 4 to 29.
The theme’s full programme is listed below.
Tuesday, October 4 at 10:45 CEST | Igor Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring
Few premieres will have been as troublesome as that of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’. The ballet, written for Sergey Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes with a choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky in which a young girl literally has to dance herself to death as a sacrifice to the sun god, did not meet with much understanding among 1913’s listeners. The intensely rhythmic score of the piece and the unusual choreography caused loud arguments among parts of the audience. This quickly led to small fights between the piece’s advocates and adversaries. Interference by the police eventually made it possible for the performance to continue. After the riot-ridden event, Diaghilev is reported to have said to Nijinsky and Stravinsky that the scandal was ,,exactly what I wanted”.
Wednesday, October 5 at 14:00 CEST | Ebony Band – Da-da-dancing
Dance is not limited to one era – composers have always taken it as a source of inspiration. Hungry to explore new ways of expressions, the composers took their inspiration from the blues and the Charleston during the period between the two World Wars. In this broadcast, we present exciting music from those days, as well as music of today. One of the pieces on the program is Guus Janssen’s masterpiece ‘Klotz’, featuring the master himself on hi-hat. The blues and the Charleston meant to the Interbellum composers what sarabande and gigue meant to Johann Sebastian Bach, and the polonaise and mazurka to Frédéric Chopin. For young composers, the arrival of the American jazz and dance music was a Godsend: jazz broke radically with the traditional, old-fashioned lifestyle of the 19th century, and was perfectly attuned to the prolonged life-expectancy of the post-war period. Jazz fever spread over Europe within a few years.
Saturday, October 8 at 18:30 CEST | Wagner - Siegfried Idyll
The original score to Richard Wagner’s ‘Siegfried Idyll’ has a dedication saying: "Tribschen Idyll,with Fidi's Bird-song and Orange Sunrise, presented as a Symphonic Birthday Greeting to his Cosima by her Richard, 1870.” The piece is very intimate in nature, not just because it was written for small orchestra which is uncommon to Wagner, but the orange sunrise for instance refers to the colour of the wallpaper in Cosina’s bedroom. This makes it a very personal composition indeed, that Wagner wrote and rehearsed on in secret. On Christmas Day 1870, Wagner put together a small orchestra and arranged for them to play his composition in the stairwell outside Cosina’s bedroom, as a birthday surprise. The story goes that Cosima was so affected that she could not get enough of the piece and made the musicians perform it several times in a row. The ‘Siegfried’ in this title, by the way, does not refer to the hero from the opera of the same name, but to their son, who went by the pet name of Fidi.
Tuesday, October 11 at 23:00 CEST | John Cage - Journeys in Sound
The famous American composer John Cage would have celebrated his 100th birthday in the autumn of 2012. To commemorate this occasion, ‘Journeys in Sound’ honours this extraordinary protagonist of 20th century music. Directed by Oscar-winner Allan Miller, this award-winning film (winning ‘best documentary’ at the 2012 Golden Prague Festival), shot in America, Germany and Japan, premieres rare archival footage, as well as interviews with Yoko Ono, David Tudor, Christian Wolff, Steffen Schleiermacher, Toshio Hosokawa, Mayumi Miyata, Calvin Tomkins, and many others.
Wednesday, October 12 at 12:00 CEST | Monteverdi - Vespro della beata vergine
In ca. 1600, composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) wrote new works for choir and soloists. In this period, Monteverdi combined traditional styles with newer ones, such as the madrigal and liturgical compositions. These compositions became an enormous success, cementing the composer’s reputation as one of the important figures in Baroque music. His example set the standard for all significant religious Baroque music styles, such as the oratorio, the cantata, and the passion. Actively combining various styles was not only put into practice in religious music, but also in opera. A great example of combined styles is the work ‘Vespro della beata vergine’ (ca. 1610), also known as the ‘Vespers for the Blessed Virgin’. Vespers like these were performed mainly in Roman-Catholic churches.
Saturday, October 15 at 21:00 CEST | Robert Wilson & Arvo Pärt : The Lost Paradise
He is the most performed contemporary composer in the world, yet he prefers to keep quiet about his music and he rarely ventures out in public. He feels at home in the forests of Estonia and generates therewith – perhaps involuntarily – the impression of a recluse, which is again and again attributed to him: Arvo Pärt. In ‘The Lost Paradise’, we follow Pärt over a one year-period in his native Estonia, as well as on trips to Japan and the Vatican. The documentary is framed by the stage production of ‘Adam’s Passion’, a music theater piece featuring three key works by Arvo Pärt, based on the Biblical story of the fall of Adam. The world-renowned director Robert Wilson has brought this work to the stage in a former submarine factory in Tallinn. Tracing their creative process, the film offers rare and personal insights into the worlds of two of the most fascinating personalities on the international arts and music scene.
Tuesday, October 18 at 21:00 CEST | Two Cellos
‘Go and see them live, because they’re really amazing! They put on the most exciting show I’ve seen since I attended a Jimi Hendrix performance in the 1960s’, says Elton John. The two young cellists Luka Sulic from Slovakia and Stjepan Hauser from Croatia, known as 2CELLOS, were sensationally successful with their spectacular live shows which lift the cello to a whole new level, and which tear down walls between music genres. From classical music to pop and hard rock, from Karl Jenkins to Michael Jackson and AC/DC: these wonderful musicians invite you on a musical journey on which only the unexpected should be expected!
Wednesday, October 19 at 19:40 CEST | Beethoven - Symphony No. 9
May 7, 1824 must have been one of the most important days in Ludwig van Beethoven’s life. A massive audience had gathered at the Hoftheater for a performance of his ‘Missa Solemnis’, and the first performance of his Ninth Symphony on top of that. This monumental symphony has its origins in two different pieces: one with a choir and one without. Some ten years before the premiere, Beethoven decided to unite the two compositions and combine them with Friedrich von Schiller’s poem ‘Ode an die Freude’ (Ode to Joy). The result is a colossal piece, a monument that left a lasting impression on music history. The premiere in 1824 was a triumph. Beethoven himself had become so deaf by that point that he, standing with his back to the audience, could not hear the audience’s cheers. One of the soloists had to turn him around so he could see the hundreds of applauding hands!
Saturday, October 22 at 21:00 CEST | Lucerne Festival 2014 - Barbara Hannigan
There are pianists who also conduct, and concertmasters who lead their orchestra from the violin chair. But a star soprano who coordinates a large instrumental ensemble while at the same time negotiating the trickiest coloratura singing is something entirely new. That is, until Barbara Hannigan came along to reveal this remarkable skill. “It’s like walking on virgin snow,” says the Canadian “artiste étoile” who teamed up at Lucerne Festival in Summer with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Next to conducting works by Fauré, Mozart and Rossini she performed on stage, decked out in a daring S&M-style leather bodice, Ligeti’s “Mysteries of the Macabre.”
Tuesday, October 25 at 14:00 CEST | Pyongyang concert
“The concert was historic…” Daniel J. Wakin, The New York Times „From the start, the concert was exceptional… It felt like history… If this concert… precipitates a thaw, it started here.” Anna Fifield, Financial Times The concert was the ultimate highlight of the New York Philharmonic’s trip to North Korea’s capital Pyongyang: when Music Director Lorin Maazel raised his baton for Arirang, a lilting folk song emblematic of the North and South Korean people, some audience members were obviously misty-eyed. The North Korean audience was on its feet, applauding and waving to the musicians. Does this moment symbolize a change? Can music make a real difference? The concert at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre was certainly an impressive event. The New York Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel opened with the national anthems of North Korea and the United States, leading on to Wagner’s Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin, Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 From the New World and An American in Paris.
Tuesday, October 25 at 22:30 CEST | Americans in Pyongyang
In summer 2007 the New York Philharmonic received an invitation that was unprecedented in the orchestra's history. North Korea, the world's most isolated and secluded country and technically at war with the United States, invited the orchestra to play in the capital of Pyongyang. Just a few months later, two hundred orchestra members and more than one hundred journalists disembarked from a chartered plane at Pyongyang's deserted airport. They were about to experience a historic moment, the first-ever performance by an American orchestra in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The film 'Americans in Pyongyang' accompanies the orchestra members on their historic trip to Pyongyang in February 2008.
Wednesday, October 26 at 21:00 CEST | Satiesfictions – Saunters with Erik Satie
Always armed with a bowler hat, an umbrella, and an endless supply of wisecracks, he was not only the strangest fellow in French music history: Erik Satie was a composer, designer, church founder, PR pioneer, and master of aperçus. The playful documentary “Satiesfictions” by Youlian Tabakov and Anne-Kathrin Peitz illuminates the phenomenon that is Satie: his countless ads evolve into real commercials and his drawings into cartoons. Interwoven with accounts by Satie associates and music experts, the film offers a unique insight into Satie’s cosmos of word and sound, featuring divas, dogs, and children, pianists playing on pianos stacked atop each other or performers turning into “musical furniture”.
Saturday, October 29 at 21:00 CEST | Das Reichsorchester
When the Berlin Philharmonic celebrated its 125th year, the orchestra used the anniversary as an opportunity to examine a rather unknown chapter in its history: the years under the rule of the National Socialists (between 1933 and 1945). The centre stage is taken by the musicians, the people and their individual fates. Thanks to contemporary witnesses from the orchestra and its fringes who are still alive today, and thanks also to extensive and until now unapprised archive materials, it is possible to gain an insight into this microcosm: where does the thin line run separating autonomy from entanglement, innocence from guilt? A chapter from the history of Germany and Berlin, as gripping as it is volatile, comes to life once more. The film made by Enrique Sánchez Lansch seeks out witnesses from all over the world: forgotten (or carefully concealed) footage of propaganda events such as the Nuremberg Rallies or the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympics. It visits the relatives of the four Jewish members who were removed from the orchestra, the descendants of the musicians who joined the NSDAP and those who suddenly appeared at rehearsals in the SA (Storm troopers) uniform.