Thomas Markworth - President of the Kurt-Weill-Gesellschaft e.V.
Prof. Michael Kaufmann -
Intendant of the Kurt Weill Festival
Kurt Weill Festival Dessau
Dear friends of the Kurt Weill Festival Dessau,
It is with much pleasure and gratitude to our many partners as well as our wonderful audiences that we take a look back at this year's Kurt Weill Festival. Through the inspiring and highly fruitful partnership with the Ernst Krenek Institute, our programme for 2016 was able to honour two of the most important composers and cultural icons of the last 100 years, namely Kurt Weill and Ernst Krenek. With around 500 artists appearing in 58 events at 24 different venues in Dessau-Roßlau, Magdeburg, Halle (Saale), Wittenberg and Wörlitz, audiences enjoyed an aural panorama of works from the first half of the 20th century, confirming the positions of Krenek and Weill as two of the leading composers of that thrilling epoch. The star-studded programme of music was complemented by an exhibition dedicated to the Bauhaus artist Wassily Kandinsky on his 150th birthday, which attracted more visitors than in any previous year. We are happy and not a little proud of our ambassadorial role in promoting the rich cultural heritage of the State of Saxony-Anhalt. At the same time, the fact that almost half of all festival-goers are from Dessau and the local region can be seen as validation of our work.
The upcoming 25th Kurt Weill Festival will once again embark on a musical journey through the early 20th century, known as the Classical Modernist period, while simultaneously taking a wider perspective: Under the motto "Luther, Weill & Mendelssohn", we will examine the historical development of modern Europe, to which the region of Anhalt contributed many vital impulses from the Reformation onwards. If Martin Luther is the representative figure of the Reformation, then Moses Mendelssohn, born in Dessau, can be said to represent the Enlightenment. Our modern notion of a humane society would be impossible without the achievements of the Enlightenment in promoting freedom from oppression, strengthening human and civil rights, improving education as well as encouraging religious tolerance. Individual freedom, which can be defined as respecting the freedoms of others, is a topic that is more relevant than ever! And such freedoms are inherent to the artistic movements of the first half of the 20th century, which of course are represented in the person of Kurt Weill. And thus the programme for the upcoming festival will encompass over 500 years of European history, as well as the histories of both Anhalt and Dessau. Together with our partners in Dessau, Halle and Magdeburg, we are presenting a cultural smorgasbord to celebrate the festival's 25th birthday, showcasing its role as an artistic powerhouse for Saxony-Anhalt while continuing the playful, non-dogmatic flavour of previous festivals.
The most important partners for the upcoming festival, which will take place from February 24th to March 12th, are our new Artists-in-Residence: The MDR Symphony Orchestra with its charismatic conductor Kristjan Järvi and the MDR Radio Choir, all valued partners who have already ensured many important and brilliant highlights over the years at the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau. The commitment of these MDR ensembles really will be a cause for celebration at the 2017 jubilee festival: Together with Angelika Kirchschlager, one of the great singers of our time, they will perform The Seven Deadly Sins, while the oratorio Die Verheißung from the epic work "The Eternal Road" returns to the programme. Furthermore, The Brave Soldier Johnny (original: Johnny Johnson) can be enjoyed once more, thereby fulfilling a special wish of the festival organizers. We are extremely grateful that the strong partnership already existing between the Kurt Weill Festival and the public broadcaster MDR in many diverse fields will now become highly visible (and audible!) through this residency.
As you would expect, the Festival will offer many other highlights, such as the gala event 25 Years of the Kurt Weill Festival, at which you can enjoy numerous Artists-in-Residence in the Anhaltisches Theater. On this evening we will once again follow Kurt Weill as he travels from the Kurfürstendamm to the Champs-Élysées and on to Broadway. In so doing we will revisit the most important cities in Weill's life, namely Berlin, Paris and New York. The upcoming festival will provide a scintillating programme dedicated to the great Kurt Weill, whose unmistakable voice will always be with us, and whose work is enjoying something of a renaissance… more than justified in view of his brilliant achievements and his unique character. The fact that representatives of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music in New York were able to persuade Dessau city council to found a festival dedicated to Kurt Weill more than 25 years ago, and thereby to create an aural (and annual) monument to this composer was a small miracle in the newly reunified Germany.
In the coming weeks and months we will be happy to keep you informed of developments to our plans for the 25th Kurt Weill Festival, in particular how the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the music of the Classical Modernist period will be presented in our festival programme. Traditionally, the official programme will be released at the end of October, when ticket sales also begin.
Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to our major funders, supporters, sponsors and partners for their valuable assistance, which will once again enable us to create a richly varied festival in 2017. And, of course, we hope that you enjoy the upcoming programme as much as in years gone by. Please accept our invitation to join us at this unique culture celebration of the music of the modernist period when the curtain opens on February 24th.
We look forward to greeting you in person!
Prof. Michael Kaufmann
Note of Thanks
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