"Musica non grata" honours Zemlinsky

To mark the 150th anniversary of Alexander Zemlinsky, a festival will be held in his honour in Prague from 8 to 10 October 2021.

Alexander Zemlinsky, the conductor, composer, teacher and music director worked at the New German Theatre (now the State Opera) from 1911 to 1927, and led the house to international success. To mark the 150th anniversary of his birth on 14 October 2021, a festival will be held in his honour in Prague from 8 to 10 October 2021 as part of "Musica non grata" programme. As a world premiere, the fragment of his opera "Malva" based on a story by Maxim Gorky will be premiered at the  State Opera on 10 October 2021, orchestrated and edited by Antony Beaumont. In addition, four concerts with works by Zemlinsky, his contemporaries and composers close to him, will be part of the programme during the festival. They will be presented at the Czech Museum of Music and the State Opera, interpreted by Karl-Heinz Steffens & Ensemble, the State Opera Choir and Orchestra, the Zemlinsky Quartet and several vocal soloists. The overall direction is by Per Boye Hansen, Artistic Director of the National Theatre Opera and the State Opera. The general music director of the State Opera is Karl-Heinz Steffens.

As music director in Prague, the Vienna-born Jewish conductor, pedagogue and composer Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942), who later converted to Protestantism, made the New German Theatre one of the most important opera houses in the world from 1911. He expanded the repertoire and premiered numerous works, including his own compositions, but also Arnold Schönberg's "Erwartung". Music by Ernst Krenek, Paul Hindemith, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Franz Schreker was also performed under his aegis. He also succeeded in bringing great artists to Prague, including Maria Hussa, Paul Pella, Friedrich Schorr, Leo Slezak, Richard Tauber and Lotte Lehmann. In 1933, Zemlinky fled from Berlin, first to Vienna and then to the USA in 1938.

In the 2021/22 season, numerous events are planned as part of the "Musica non grata" programme. For 17-19 August 2021 a Summer School in Terezín is planned. There will be lectures and seminars for international students on the topic of "Degenerate Music". In autumn, the Prague season will open with opera productions and concerts. The programme includes Hans Krása's "Brundibár", Kurt Weill's "The Seven Deadly Sins", Arnold Schönberg's "Erwartung", Franz Schreker's "Der ferne Klang" and Erwin Schulhoff's "Flammen". In April 2022 a focus will also be put on the works of female artists and composers from Prague and the surrounding area. These and other programme items will be announced at a later date.
“Musica non grata" has already been present with an opening concert on 30 August 2020 with various online concerts in the spring and live concerts on 12 June at the National Theatre and  on 20 June 2021 at the State Opera.

In 2020, the four-year cycle "Musica non grata" started in Prague, which takes up the rich Prague music tradition before 1938. Fully supported by the German Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Prague, numerous opera productions, symphony and chamber music concerts will take place in the three Prague opera houses with works by composers of Czech-Jewish-German origin who had a special relationship to Prague and the Czech Republic. Initiated by the artistic director of the Prague opera houses, Per Boye Hansen, the ambitious project is supported by the two music directors Jaroslav Kyzlink (the National Theatre Opera) and Karl-Heinz Steffens (the State Opera).


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