For the Hungarian office of Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Welcome by Wenzel Michalski (HRW Germany)
- Wednesday, 18 September 2013
In the beginning life was good to me;
it held me warm and gave me courage.
That this is granted all while in their youth,
how could I then have known of this.
I never knew what living was …
Rainer Maria Rilke
In “Die Stimmen”, his collection of ballads in the “Buch der Bilder”, Rainer Maria Rilke gave poetic expression to different kinds of life experiences. Hungarian-American conductor and composer Antal Doráti set several of them to music in 1974. In contrast, Modest Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death”, which were composed one hundred years earlier, are entirely dedicated to death. In four haunted ballads, Death rocks a child into eternal sleep, woos a dying young woman, summons a drunken peasant to a final (death) dance and, finally appears as an officer commanding the fallen troops after a battle. Mussorgsky dressed the texts of his close friend the Russian poet Arseni Gollenischtschew-Kutusow in harrowingly evocative music. Two exceptional artists in the form of bass-baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann, who is celebrated as an opera, oratorio and Lieder singer, and pianist András Schiff, who is equally versed as a soloist, chamber music partner and Lieder accompanist, take on Mussorgsky’s cycle of lyrical mini-dramas. Complementing the Slavic theme of the programme is piano music by Béla Bartók and Leoš Janáček.
Béla Bartók [1881-1945]
Suite for piano op.14 
Antal Doráti [1906-1988]
song cycle for bass voice and piano
based on texts by Rainer Maria Rilke 
Leoš Janáček [1854-1928]
On an Overgrown Path
15 miniatures for piano, 1st book 1-10 [1901-1908]
Modest Mussorgsky [1839-1881]
Songs and Dances of Death
song cycle for voice and piano [1875-1877]