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© Martin U.K. Lengemann
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Jun 19

Herbert Blomstedt conducts at Kissinger Sommer

Bad Kissingen - xxx
20:00 Uhr

The grand instrumental dramas on our programme take us back to a historic chapter of cultural history. Our honorary conductor Herbert Blomstedt designed this programme in tribute to the great Arthur Nikisch – who selected precisely this unusual order of pieces for the first foreign tour of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1916, featuring a large symphony at the beginning, »when the audience is still fresh«, and an overture at the end. Wagner’s opera »Tannhäuser« is a tale about an outsider and his conflict with society, complete with sinful sensual pleasures, a penitent pilgrimage, and final absolution in death. Baudelaire described Wagner’s torrid music as »dizzying opium dreams painted on a background of darkness«. »Death and Transfiguration« by Richard Strauss is similarly powerful. There has been much speculation about the piece’s autobiographical background – even though the composer, who was 24 years old at the time, stated nonchalantly that it was »a product of pure imagination«. However, when on his deathbed in 1949, he said: »Strange [...], dying is just the way I composed it in ‘Death and Transfiguration’.« The tone poem tells of »a human being’s hour of death« – with symphonic heartbeats and feverish dreams leading to hymnic transfiguration. The concert’s opening work is equally congenial: Beethoven’s legendary Third Symphony of 1803 is seen as the first orchestral work in music history to be inspired by an overarching humanitarian ideal. Possibly he was thinking of another hero besides Napoleon, such as Prometheus. And perhaps the composer was even setting his own struggle to triumph over his well-nigh overpowering destiny down in music – after all, at the time of writing he was already suffering the trauma of gradual deafness. Beethoven himself recommended that the symphony be played at the beginning of a concert: »Otherwise, if the preceding pieces have already exhausted the audience, it will lose its effect.«

Herbert Blomstedt Conductor

Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonie Nr. 3 Es-Dur op. 55 »Eroica«
Richard Strauss »Tod und Verklärung«
Richard Wagner Ouvertüre zur Oper »Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg«

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