Opening Concert / Visiting : Amsterdam


François-Xavier Roth, conductor
Beethoven | Rihm | Saunders

This concert has had to be cancelled. Instead, there will be a concert featuring the Staatskapelle Berlin on the same date.

1974, World Cup FRG – NL (2:1)

“In almost every final movement, there is a point where he gets ready to take the shot, and that shot goes in like a penalty.” (Elmar Budde on Beethoven’s final movements). 1974, World Cup FRG – NL (2:1). Johan Neeskens (NL) scores with the penalty 0:1 against goalkeeper Sepp Maier (FRG)

© IFAGE Filmproduktion, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Past Dates

The Concertgebouworkest and Musikfest Berlin enjoy an especially close connection. It reaches far back into the times of the previous festival, Berliner Festwochen. What was one of several cultural initiatives towards the consolidation of peace in Europe in 1963, has developed into a firm partnership over many years of steady cooperation. In the festival’s opening concert, the guests from Amsterdam will reveal the main constellation that will create the special suspense of the 2020 Musikfest Berlin: Beethoven and the music of our times, with a special focus on the works of Rebecca Saunders and Wolfgang Rihm. All genres, from piano pieces to great orchestra works, will find a place within this magnetic field. Beginning the festival with Beethoven’s music was a programmatic decision: The opening features the overture and the symphony in which the composer’s “sound of humanity” gained its profile and its strength – and found unprecedented forms without renouncing its close reference to tradition. Through this grand idea, his musical language formed in all its details and ramifications: Beethoven’s orchestral works are just as convincing when seen as an “address to the nation” as in their nature of a precise analysis of internal organisation of sound.

Such introspection is also undertaken by Wolfgang Rihm and Rebecca Saunders. “Sostenuto”, sustained, is a term for musical expression that is frequently found in Beethoven’s music. On a modern grand piano, the “sostenuto pedal” is the middle one, which only allows those notes to be prolonged that are played by pressing it. Wolfgang Rihm translates this sound phenomenon into the language of the orchestra. Rebecca Saunders’ violin concerto “Still” was inspired by a late work by Samuel Beckett. “’Still’ explores two starkly contrasting conditions which are in a state of balance. ‘Still’, German for silent, refers to the framing of sounds by silence, an imaginary silence that is waiting to become audible” (Rebecca Saunders) – either gently or eruptive.

Concert Programme

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Leonore Overture No. 3 op. 72b (1806)

Wolfgang Rihm (*1952)
sostenuto (2020)
Commissioned by Concertgebouworkest
German premiere

Rebecca Saunders (*1967)
for violin solo and orchestra (2011)

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major op. 55 “Eroica” (1802/03)

The concerts dedicated to Rebecca Saunders on 29.8., 2.9., 7.9. and 9.9.2020 are funded by means of the Capital City Cultural Fund and the Aventis Foundation.

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A Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin event