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"Musica non grata" to start in 2021 with online concerts "... and yet they still resound!"

The German-Czech cultural project "Musica non grata" which has been stalled due to the Corona pandemic, will kick off in 2021 with a series of online concerts. The launch will take place on March 24 with a program of works by Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959). This will be followed by concerts with music by Hans Krása (1899-1944), Pavel Haas (1899-1944), plus a tribute to contemporary, Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). The events can be viewed on the video platform of "Musica non grata" in no particular order every Wednesday: https://www.musicanongrata.com/en/events/

 

Featuring the four composers Krása, Martinů, Haas and Schulhoff, focus is turned to four figures who shaped the musical scene in Prague from the 1910s to the 1930s. All of them were subjected to persecution by the National Socialists, partly on account of their Jewish origins and partly because of their work. Martinů managed to emigrate to America in 1940; Schulhoff, Krása and Haas were interned by the National Socialists, died while imprisoned or were murdered in the gas chambers.

 

A work that achieved tragic success is Krása's children's opera "Brundibár", which will be featured in a short film by Magdaléna Švecová on March 24. Initially rehearsed and performed by orphans in a Prague orphanage in 1941/42, the so-called "Terezín version" was created after the composer's deportation to Theresienstadt. It was performed 55 times in the concentration camp by the children imprisoned there.

 

As a 20th century music icon, Igor Stravinsky merits the attention of Musica non grata as well - for his "degenerate" music was also to have been eradicated from the world.

 

The online concerts will feature the choir, orchestra and ballet of the Prague National Theatre, the Prague State Opera Orchestra and soloists from each ensemble. Performances will be led by Zbyněk Müller, Jana Cecílie Mimrová and the two music directors Karl-Heinz Steffens and Jaroslav Kyzlink.

 

Another focal point of the artistic-academic project "Musica non grata” this coming year is a concert of works by the composer and conductor Vítězslava Kaprálová, a friend of Martinů who died already at the age of 25. Additional program details to follow.

 

75 years following the end of the war, the four-year cycle, “Musica non grata”, will commence in Prague and pick up on the rich musical tradition that existed in the city before 1938. With the support of the Czech government and the German Bundestag, which has provided the German Foreign Office with the financial means for the project, numerous concerts, opera productions and chamber music concerts featuring works of Czech-Jewish-German origin will be performed at the three Prague opera houses.

 

Initiated by the new Artistic Director of the National Theatre Opera and State Opera, Per Boye Hansen, this ambitious project is supported by the two Music Directors Jaroslav Kyzlink (National Theatre Opera) and Karl-Heinz Steffens (State Opera).

 

One focus of the project lies on so-called “Entartete Musik” (Degenerate Music) and its creators. Numerous artists were robbed of their existence by the National Socialists and many of them were expelled or murdered. Works by the Theresienstadt Ghetto composers Pavel Haas, Hans Krása, Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullmann will be heard, as well as a number of composers whose fates were affected by the ideology of the emerging power of the “Third Reich”, such as Franz Schreker, Erwin Schulhoff and Rudolf Karel. Works by emigrated composers such as Ernst Křenek, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alexander Zemlinsky and  Jaromír Weinberger will also be performed.

 

A particular focus lies on musical works written by women. After all, the 20s and early 30s marked a time of emancipation for female composers.

 

More information about the composers, the program and the project "Musica non grata" can be found at: www.musicanongrata.com

 

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