1918 – Departure Into Modernity

Early in 2017 the news story was being talked about in the media about a Kurdish refugee who earned money by playing music in the streets to fulfil his dream of studying music in Belgium. He drowned after his capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, still clutching his violin in death. This story is symbolic of the suffering already felt in this young century. Look back 100 years and you can see that the image of the desperate violinist trying to save himself in a chaotic world was already present back then. It recalls the (desperate) departure into Modernity. The Kissinger Sommer 2018 is about looking back to the beginning of the 20th century. Our motto is “1918 – Departure Into Modernity”.

Mottoabbildung 2018

What did people feel like 100 years ago? World War 1 was over, Europe’s population had been decimated, new forms of states and governments were imminent. Old borders (in the minds of the people too) and monarchies were cast away. Many European states introduced the right to vote for women. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud uncovered the power of the unconscious mind. Physicist Albert Einstein shook the foundation of human thinking, the absolute state of matter and time, with his theory of relativity. Artists began to think differently in this environment as well. Painters like Wassily Kandinsky transferred this new thinking into their paintings to create abstract art. It is no coincidence that the music of the time became abstract, atonal and was freed of the constraints of harmony. There were many contradictory aesthetic concepts such as constructivism, cubism, neoclassicism or futurism. At the Kissinger Sommer 2018 we present some of these “isms” in artistic manifestos, accompanied by their corresponding music. One of the most intellectual of early neoclassicism has to be included in this festival, Igor Stravinsky’s lively Pulcinella suite.

We have included some of the most important works of that time, which today are classics of Modernity, into this year’s festival programme. It wasn’t hard to grasp music but innovative works, like Igor Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemps” or “A Soldier’s Tale” “Le Historie du Soldat”, that moved the masses of the time. The image of the lone violinist that saves the world comes time and again, such as in Ernst Krenek’s 1927 opera “Jonny Plays”. At the Kissinger Sommer we can experience how Josef, the soldier, heals the princess with violin playing in a production made for us and the Essen Philharmonic. In Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” the magical power of music helps the petrified people to escape the police state of the magician Kaschtschei. To reference the lone violinist, we incorporated some of the biggest classic of violin concertos into our programme; Works by Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms but also Gediminas Gelgotas and “Le Quattro stagioni”, the “Four Seasons”, by Antonio Vivaldi.

When the soldier Josef strikes up his dance music, the world goes back to its proper order. Perhaps there was a primal trust in these motions for dance to have defined cultural life between the World Wars. In the 1920s and 30s, the Impresario Sergei Diaghilev was always the topic of many discussions due to his “Ballets russes”, the Russian ballets. He had a sense for the themes of that time period and we know many classics of the early 20th century thanks to him: Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” (1910), “Le Sacre du Printemps” (1913), Maurice Ravels “La Valse” (1919-20), Manuel de Fallas “El Sombrero de tres Picos” (“The Three-Cornered Hat”, 1916-19). Additionally, we will present Kristjan Järvi’s version of Tchaiskovsky’s “Swan Lake” and reflect the theme of dance, which made its marks on European piano music, in the SongWorkshop.

A departure into Modernity also means farewell to the Old World. In 1918, the times when the symphonies of late Romanticism could deliver a complete word view were over. During our festival in 2018 we quickly look back at the 19th century with some moving farewell symphonies: Dvoráks 9th symphony and Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” (both from 1893). Edward Elgar’s cello concerto from 1919 belongs to that category as well.

The beginning of Modernity is tied with the new political order in Europe. In 1918, the three Baltic States Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declared their independence from Russia. For the Kissinger Sommer this is cause to show the creativity in Baltic music in some of our concerts. The Estonian Järvi family of musicians is emblematic of this creative potential. Paavo Järvi, chief conductor of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, already demonstrated this fact admirably during the las Kissinger Sommer. We have included two concerts with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic Orchestra under Kristjan Järvi, his brother, into our programme, as well as an homage to composer Arvo Pärt with the Sinfonietta Riga. Vox Clamantis, one of the best Estonian vocal ensembles that also won a Grammy, will bring its sounds to the Erlöserkirche church.

At the beginning of the 20th century the tension between farewell and departure resulted in a flowering culture; in 1933 it was abruptly cut off. Let yourself be inspired by looking back at the spirit of departure at the Kissinger Sommer 2018!


Concerts around the theme 1918:

06/15/2018 - Opening concert
06/16/2018 - New old music
06/17/2018 - The school was deserted
06/20/2018 - Island, forest and city art
06/22/2018 - Tradition and future music
06/23/2018 - Les Vents Français 1
06/23/2018 - Embarking towards a new language of sound
06/24/2018 - Les Vents Français 2
06/24/2018 - A soldier's tale
06/25/2018 - A single tone
06/27/2018 - „Pulcinella“
06/29/2018 - From the age of timbre
06/30/2018 - Lyrical suite
07/01/2018 - „Songs and Dances“
07/02/2018 - Light and enlightenment: extra concert Bad Kissingen songworkshop
07/03/2018 - Home of love
07/06/2018 - "Black and white" - prelude: the artistic manifestos
07/07/2018 - "Black and white" - the piano and modernity - 1
07/07/2018 - "Blakc and white" - the piano and modernity - 2
07/07/2018 - Nordic Pulse
07/09/2018 - Waterworks
07/11/2018 - The deers cry
07/12/2018 - Art nouvenau
07/12/2018 - „Music for a while“ – Late night concert
07/14/2018 - „Parade“ – Bad Kissingen future lab
07/15/2018 - „Parade“ – Bad Kissingen future lab
07/15/2018 - Final concert