7. 9. 2023

Press release of the 52nd year of the festival

Moravian Autumn, subtitled A Parallel History of Music, is showcasing great works of neglected composers and neglected works of great composers

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                Brno, 7 September 2023

Contemporary classical music concert practice is to repeatedly select only a limited number of all the pieces of music ever to have been composed for their “here and now”. And it claims to define the history of music by choosing those works which have earned the “right to survive”. “We are continuing in our long-term efforts to disrupt this approach, and in this concentrated festival form we are carrying out a survey into a kind of parallel history of music. We shall be spotlighting the less well-known works of famous composers, and highlighting the viability of works by neglected composers,” says festival programmer, Vítězslav Mikeš. This year’s festival has been subtitled Angeloi – The Messengers, who according to philosopher Jakov Duskin are beings who life a colourful life in a parallel world, and who free of boredom and time experience eternity. “I see works of music similarly,” says Mikeš.

The Moravian Autumn programme thus offers that which is rarely heard. It incorporates compositions from Baroque to contemporary, often in their Czech or world premiere. “The audience can look forward to a total of fourteen concerts from 1 to 22 October. Most of these are in Besední dům, alongside three large concerts in the Janáček Theatre, and also, for example, in 10-Z Bunker, in the Tugendhat Villa, on Petrov and in the church on náměstí Míru,” says Marie Kučerová, Director of Filharmonie Brno, which is organising the concerts. She adds that a special concert is also being planned for the Red Church (Červený kostel). This will mark the third time that Bronius Kutavičius’s Last Pagan Rites is played here. Its last two performances were so well received in recent years that it is being included in the programme for a third time.

The festival opens on 1 October to the sound of The Wild Wood Spirit’s Chant, a symphonic fantasia by Anthony Philip Heinrich, which is being performed in its Czech premiere. This native of Krásná Lípa, who has been called the American Beethoven, has such an incredible life story that it is almost like a Jára Cimrman tale. (Stories of the first professional composer in America are focused on a day later by pianist Pavel Farský in his recital, which is already sold out.) Heinrich will be followed in the opening concert by the actual Beethoven and his rarely performed Fantasy in C minor, followed by the imposing Credo from the end of Arvo Pärt’s early period. The evening will close with the symphonic poem Prometheus, which Alexander Skriabin wrote for piano, choir and orchestra, with the further inclusion of a so-called clavier à lumières. “Cori O’Lan of Austria’s renowned Ars Electronica festival is looking after the visual aspect of the piece,” says Mikeš. The soloist for the Beethoven and Skriabin pieces is Polina Osetinskaja, who already charmed the audience in Brno a few years ago.

The opening concert is being led by Chief Conductor Dennis Russell Davies, who is also taking the same role in the theatre on 13 October. This time, however, he won’t be conducting Filharmonie Brno, but rather the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, which he also heads. As well as a William Bolcom Czech premiere and W A Mozart’s Maurerische Trauermusik, the orchestra will be performing its core repertoire: Robert Schumann and Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra.

While the first and second concert at the theatre are linked by person of the Chief Conductor, the second and third are linked by Brno’s partner cities: Germany’s Leipzig and Poland’s Poznań. The Poznań Philharmonic is coming on 22 October to take care of the ceremony’s closing performance. With Chief Conductor Łukasz Borowicz, they will be performing a programme celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of the birth of the late Krzysztof Penderecki, one of the most significant creators of Polish and also world music of the second half of the 20th century. This will be complemented by Vítězslav Kaprálová’s Suita rustica and Karol Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2, performed by Milan Paľa (who will also take on the solo part in Penderecki’s Viola Concerto).

Besides neglected composers and works, the festival also provides a space for neglected musical instruments, such as the glass harmonica which will be played by Christa Schönfeldinger in three pieces over one evening. Conducted by Jonathan Cohen, the glass harmonica will play reworked premieres of the melodrama Abschied der Johanna d’Arc von ihrer Heimath and Gelegenheitskantate by Antonín Reicha, who like Heinrich has an incredible life story, with Czech roots and a career outside his homeland.

Another rare instrument is the historical Streicher piano, to be played by Alexei Lubimov. He will be playing pieces by Johannes Brahms, while the contemporary Steinway piano will be playing the nostalgia-tinged music of living Ukrainian composer, Valentin Silvestrov. Onuté Gražinytė will also be playing the piano in a solo recital and with the Kremerata Baltica ensemble. Also on the piano is Bosnian musician, Aida Mujačić playing songs by Karel Reiner, Terezie Fialová in a duo with ’cellist Jiří Bárta, and Dennis Russell Davies, who will be accompanying soprano Martina Janková and reciter Taťjana Medvecká.

Two multimedia projects, both in their Czech premiere, will be performed in the second half of the festival. Islandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson is renowned as a film composer and was nominated for an Oscar for his scores to The Theory of Everything. Yet his independent early works are highly interesting projects. “His erstwhile close collaborator, Adam Wiltzie, will be performing an exceptional hour-long composition, one might say even sound installation, Virðulegu forsetar, with the Moravia Brass Band on Petrov. I firmly believe this will be one of the festival’s highlights,” says Mikeš. The award-winning hopefuls of Czech chamber music, Trio Bohémo, have arranged the “audiovisual novellas” In Search of Lost Beauty by Žibuoklé Martinaitytė for Besední dům, composed for piano trio, and featuring electronics and video.

This is the second year that the festival has included the New World of Moravian Autumn, which is a series of concerts put together by JAMU students. The Accompanying Programme will also feature the Musicology Colloquium, discussions with composers, interpreters and musicologists, and the presentation of two new books: one is dedicated to Leoš Janáček, and the other to Antonín Reicha.

Tickets to single concerts are available from Filharmonie presales, or online at moravsky-podzim.cz. Students can also take advantage of 50 CZK tickets half an hour before concerts start. There is also a festival discount, with customers getting a bigger discount the more concerts they visit, applicable from two concerts and above.

Media contact Kateřina Konečná, Head of PR and Marketing, Filharmonie Brno   

+420 775 426 040   katerina.konecna@filharmonie-brno.cz