1762 – Painted in Nature’s Image

Man is a reflection of nature. His perceptions are reflected in art, his place in society is based on a “natural state”. In the 18th century, mankind found itself in the midst of these tensions when it began to explore the interactions and philosophical depth of society, upbringing, art and nature. It almost seemed as if the god-given order of a feudal society with an all-mighty king at the top was being called into question as an afterthought. Jean-Jacques Rosseau wrote "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains,” in his eponymous work “Du contract social” (“The Social Contract”) which he released in 1762. It promptly led to him being arrested. Rosseau’s social contract bound national leaders to law and defined the sovereignty of the people (a principle that is reflected in German law: “Alle Staatsgewalt geht vom Volke aus.”/”All power emanates from the people”), it is nothing less than the legal foundation for the harmonious existence of a state’s population. In the years before the French Revolution it was an incendiary work.


However, not only Rosseau and other philosophers (Immanuel Kant, for example, developed a completely new faculty of understanding based on Isaac Newton’s physics) were looking to nature. The composers of the 18th century tried to recreate nature’s phenomena. At first, such as in baroque times, the focus was on simple illustration like in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” The storms of baroque music blew through the programmes of our Artist in Residence Julia Lezhneva and birds chirp in the baroque gardens of Dorothee Mields and Stefan Temmingh. Soon, however, humanity became the focus, its feelings were perceived as an aspect of nature. “Compassion” was the keyword, straightforwardness was the motto. All of the complicated rules from Bach’s and Händel’s time, counterpoints and continuo, were a thing of the past, likely because these reflected the hierarchies of feudal societies. Instead the “passion” (a favoured term in the mid-18th century) of the individual was incorporated into the music. “Galant style” was developed in which composers such as Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach turned their personal experiences into the themes for their music. A musical almanac announced Johann Sebastian Bach’s oldest son as the “sun flame of passion”. Thus he was the progenitor of Vienna Classical. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart said “Bach is the father, we are the children”, in referring to him. We can see for ourselves in the concert featuring Ensemble Resonanz.

Joseph Haydn was also interested in the human aspect of nature, even before composing his late oratorios (“The Creation” and “Four Seasons”). In 1761 he composed three symphonies about the time of day: “Le matin” (“Morning”), “Le midi” (“Noon”) and “Le soir” (“Evening”). In the Kissinger Sommer 2019 we can experience these three times of day: over the course of a day with Joseph Haydn, beginning with the slowly awakening in morning to the instrumental song of noon and ending in the evening storm. There will be three symphonies broken up by brunch and coffee breaks, followed by a late-night concert.

Much has changed in the time around 1762. In that year Immanuel Kant wrote a critique of all the evidence for the existence of god of the time, in Italy new works by Carlo Gozzi and Carlo Goldoni enthralled audiences. Since the 30s, Carl von Linné had been working on the systematic recognition and cataloguing of flora and fauna, his system of zoological and botanic nomenclature is still in use today. In music there was a similar systematic approach. In 1753, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach released his “Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments” (the first book, in 1762 he released the second), in 1752 Johann Joachim Quantz, the flute teacher for Friedrich II, unveiled his manual for the cross flute, in 1756 there was Leopold Mozart’s violin school.

Since 1761 the architect and graphic designer Giovanni Battista Piranesi had been releasing virtual rooms he called “Carceri d’invenzione” (“Imaginary Prisons”). The visionary copperplate engravings were just a side activity for him. Piranesi’s main source of income was systematically cataloguing ancient Roman ruins. The adventurous pivoting bridges in the “Carceri” have inspired numerous artistic minds, even influencing the turning stairs in Hogwarts.

Developments in literature were less systematic but in turn entertaining. In 1763 Lessing began working on his comedy “Minna von Barnhelm”. Laurence Stern was writing his amusing novel “Tristram Shandy” in continuous volumes. Our recital concert on the 16th of June allows a glimpse into “Tristram Shandy”, works by Joseph Haydn complete the charming monologue.

In 1763, when the Seven Years’ War ended, Europe saw a relatively long peace that lasted until the French Revolution. Culture could develop freely in this climate as artists were able to travel unhindered. Thus Mozart travelled with his father to England (1763-66) and every composer that wanted to make it to the top had to visit Italy at least once. Christoph Willibald Gluck also made cultural trips which expanded his horizon significantly. By comparing Italian and French operas he developed his own “reform operas” to save this musical style from its old conventions. This brings us back to our keyword, “passion”. Virtuosic vocal talent is no longer the focal point but rather mankind with its own emotions. Anyone who has ever heard Orpheus cry out “Eurydice!” in a futile attempt to call to his dead wife knows that this natural sincerity is worth a lot more than all trills and scales. Maybe Gluck, the progenitor of opera that influenced following composers like Mozart and Wagner, was also guided by nature. His father was a forester and he would have almost followed suit. Instead, he created an opera in 1762 that would revolutionise musical theatre: “Orfeo ed Euridice”. It is the story of Orpheus who deeply touches the Furies with his song to bring back his wife into the world of the living on the condition that he must not turn to her on their way from Hades. This story is also about nature as Eurydice is indeed a part of it as a nymph, eternally bound to it and, at best, “lent” to Orpheus, the first musician in history. If we heed the mythos, Orpheus has seduced the wildlife, natural forces and gods with his song. It is no wonder that Gluck chose this material for his reform of opera. This music is “painted in nature’s image” and reflects both emotions and a heavenly landscape. At the Kissinger Sommer 2019 we present a slightly modernised version of the opera. Composer Damian Scholl has edited Christoph Willibald Gluck’s music, added his own musical reflections and therefore furthered its musical history from ancient mythos over numerous Orpheus compositions to todays’ language of sound. The result is another almanac of the 18th century, this time about Gluck: “he simplified the art of sound; he cleansed it of impurities and put it back in nature’s lap from whence it came.”

The interaction with nature has brought us many more works of art, even after 1762 and we can only incorporate a fraction of them in our festival programme. We have chosen exemplary works from musical history that ask questions about mankind’s place in nature. It is a relevant question that has spawned several answers throughout history. The punk band “Die Toten Hosen” bluntly claims that mankind is “a freak of nature”.

Romanticist composers had a more wholesome view. Nature was seen as a refuge for mankind for when it wanted to escape the world around it. The “Winter Journey” is a famous flight from the world into an uncertain illusory realm. Franz Schubert’s song cycle builds a wintery landscape up into a vast painting of the soul. After the phenomenal song recital in 2018 by Simon Bode and Igor Levit, we have decided to incorporate “Winter Journey” as a continuation for the summer of 2019. Richard Wagner’s “Rhinegold” is also about mankind’s place in nature. Fog, rain and the times of year: The musical references cover Shai Wosner’s solo recital, Schumann’s “Spring Symphony” with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Hector Berlioz’ “Summer Nights” and Dvořák’s “In Nature’s Realm”. “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville was without doubt one of the most important nature novels, which is why we dedicate a recital concert to it. Melville’s version of Rosseau’s social contract is a quote that he attributed to the allegedly uncivilised Native American Queequeg:  "It's a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians.”


Concerts around the theme 1762 – Painted in Nature’s Image:

14.6.2019 Opening Concert
15.6.2019 Rain, Mist, Sound of the Alps
16.6.2019 Vertiginous Monologue
17.6.2019 Solo Recital Richard Goode
22.6.2019 One day with Joseph Haydn
23.6.2019 Rheingold
25.6.2019 „Moby-Dick“
27.6.2019 Baroque Bravour Arias
29.6.2019 SongWorkshop 1
29.6.2019 Roots and Branches of Vienna Classical
30.6.2019 Cantata Church Service at the Kissinger Sommer
30.6.2019 SongWorkshop 2
3.7.2019 Heart Storm
6.7.2019 „Orfeo ed Euridice“
6.7.2019 Slavic Orchestra Colours
7.7.2019 „Winter Journey”
7.7.2019 Quantum of Disturbance
8.7.2019 „Birds“
11.7.2019 Baroque Opera Art
12.7.2019 Summer Nights
13.7.2019 „Der Dorfwahrsager“ – Kissinger Zukunftslabor
14.7.2019 „Der Dorfwahrsager“ – Kissinger Zukunftslabor
14.7.2019 Final Concert