Ez történt


American conductor, “pioneering works”

2012. 12. 01.


The noted American conductor, the music director of the Kansas City Symphony Michael Stern , son of violinist Isaac Stern, will be conducting three remarkable pieces from the 20th century. Novelty and originality are common to all of them.
 

Special offer! John Cage exhibition and back stage tour.

Click here for details.

 
This special programme will be performed by our orchestra under the baton of the highly-noted American conductor, musical director of the Kansas Symphony Orchestra and son of the violinist Isaac Stern. Leonard Bernstein’s Oscar-nominated music composed for a 1954 film is austere but romantic music. Bohuslav Martinů’s Fourth Symphony, like the others, dates from after the composer’s emigration to the United States. Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) is linked with one of the greatest scandals in music. The world premiere in 1913 escalated into a riot between the members of the Parisian audience admiring the rhythmic complexity, ingenious orchestration and tones, and those accustomed to more elegant conventions. The crude, barbarian boldness of the work never fails to elicit awe.The newest exhibition of the Ludwig Museum, to be found int he Palace of Arts is The freedom of Sound, John Cage behind the Iron Curtain introducing the work of the artist. For thise who purchase tickets for the concert of the Hungarian National Philharmonic can enjoy a guided tour of the exhibition (with valid ticket for the exhibition) before the concert, from 5 pm and from 6 pm can participate in a back stage tour visiting the places utilised by the National Philharmonic in the Palace of Arts. 

 

Special offer! John Cage exhibition and back stage tour 

 

The newest exhibition of the Ludwig Museum, to be found int he Palace of Arts is The freedom of Sound, John Cage behind the Iron Curtain introducing the work of the artist. Those who purchase tickets for the concert of the Hungarian National Philharmonic can enjoy a guided tour of the exhibition (with valid ticket for the exhibition) before the concert, from 5 pm and from 6 pm can participate in a back stage tour visiting the places utilised by the National Philharmonic in the Palace of Arts.

 

From the Artist’s point of view

 
“I am happy to show something new”
An interview with conductor Michael Stern

 

One of the highlights of the coming season is going to be the 5 December concert, conducted by maestro Michael Stern, featuring 20th century works by Stravinsky, Bernstein, and Martinu. Of these two might be a novelty even to regular concert-goers. We talked to the conductor via Skype, to ask his views on what to expect from the performance.

 
Why these particular pieces? What aspects were taken into consideration when selecting the material for the concert?

 
When I was asked to conduct the great Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, I presented Zoltán Kocsis with various repertoire proposals, from which he chose the three works that are going to be performed. The selection gives a good resumé of 20th century music, since it consists of three very different composers, albeit three that I really, really love: Bernstein, Martinu, and Stravinsky!

 
Apart from the modern era, is there anything in common in the composers and the pieces of the evening?
 

Yes, indeed. All three works tell a story following a certain dramaturgy. They draw a picture, create a certain, almost tangible atmosphere. What is also common to all three pieces is that they have endured beyond their time and they still have meaning beyond the original circumstances of their conception.

 
All three works were extraordinary in their day, surprising the audience and critics of the time. The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky will celebrate its hundredth birthday in 2013. Yet, if we listen to it now, it is wholly fresh, vivid and not the tiniest bit dull or tired. This piece was revolutionary! In its use of rhythm, of course. But it is clear that there is much more to it than just the rhythmical side: its structure, the orchestration and the rhythm together constitute the unique soul of this great music.
 

The first three movements of the Martinu symphony were created during the Second World War and thus reflect the horrors and grief of that difficult time. The fourth movement was written just as the war was ending. It is not surprising that it is the music of liberation, victory and relief! The Bernstein piece also sounded new and fresh upon first hearing. Novelty and originality are common to all these marvelous pieces.

 
The Bernstein piece is an adaptation, if I understand correctly…

 
And what an adaptation! Bernstein was asked to score music for a 1954 American movie. It was the first time ever that he wrote music for a motion picture, which is quite a separate profession, an applied art form. He had no prior experience in film scoring, yet the result was not just perfect, but brilliant, indeed. If you watch “On the Waterfront”, it is amazing, how much the music of Bernstein contributed to the drama. The music is so strong, that it retains its meaning and validity even when listened to without the movie on the screen. The symphonic suite was written afterwards, based on the movie score. You do not have to know the story to appreciate the music, although, it can help understanding the journey on which Bernstein intended to take its listeners.

 

Another common aspect might be that these are not the simplest pieces to play!

 
True, it is challenging program. Yet I have to say, every time I have come to Budapest to conduct, I have been amazed by the depth of musicianship. It makes it such a pleasure to work.

 
On your first visit to Hungary, you surely were not conducting, since you have been traveling as a child with your father (Isaac Stern), who was and still is held in the highest respect in Hungary. Do you have memories of those visits?

 
Yes, my father really loved the country and had a warm connection with a lot of Hungarian musicians. He also made records with the Liszt Ferenc Chamber Orchestra. He told me – what I have encountered myself, later on – that Hungarians are very musical. It seems that music is simply important to you!

 
These days, as the financial crisis takes its toll on culture everywhere, and music and the arts are among the first targets of spending cuts decided on by politicians, every culture-loving individual should say no! This is one reason why it is such a joy to go to Hungary; in my experience, musical culture is still held in high regard, despite all the difficulties. That is one thing I adore, and one that make Hungary a special place.

 
You have conducted in all parts of the globe. Is it possible to recognize an orchestra by the way it sounds? Do they have special, national characteristics?

 
The way the orchestras sound are much more generalized, or I may even say, globalized. The differences are surely smaller than, say, hundred years ago. The mobility of musicians has increased; the ensembles are international, different musical cultures mix faster and more thoroughly. Hungarian musicians are playing in Germany, while Americans are playing in China, after having learned in Hungary, for example.

 
There are technical differences of course, and it does matter, who conducts a given orchestra. But what interests me more is the works themselves, and how different orchestras rehearse, what their working methods are, all to reflect in the end product of a successful performance.

 
But when it comes to a concert, the audience is just as important. I do not know how widely Martinu is known in Hungary– I assume much more than here in America, where he is not played very often, which is a pity, because his music is truly ingenious. I think, this particular Bernstein piece is perhaps less known, while the Rite of Spring is a fundamental part of basic repertoire.

 
Bernstein is quite known in Hungary, I believe…

 
When talking about him in Europe, people usually think of “West Side Story”, or maybe some recall his first or second symphonies. This piece, “On the Waterfront” is rarely played in concert, even in America. This is why I am happy and hopeful that I can show something new to the Hungarian audience. I think the program is going to be exciting and very entertaining to both us on stage as well as to the audience!
 

End of August, 2012