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„The most beautiful pianissimi of my conducting life“

What does the Vienna Woods have to do with Saxon Switzerland? The green lung of Vienna as the basis for the wine bliss so often cultivated in this country, for example, with the Elbe Sandstone Mountains? Christian Thielemann knows: „If you know the landscape, then you understand the people better – and then you can also guess where the music comes from.“

© Dieter Nagl

What does the Vienna Woods have to do with Saxon Switzerland? The green lung of Vienna as the basis for the wine bliss so often cultivated in this country, for example, with the Elbe Sandstone Mountains? Christian Thielemann knows: „If you know the landscape, then you understand the people better – and then you can also guess where the music comes from.“ For example, when Carl Maria von Weber seems to measure up the bizarre rock formations for the gruesome Wolfsschlucht scene in his „Freischütz“ and what he experienced there, the premiere may also have taken place in Thielemann’s birthplace Berlin, composed for his beloved Sächsische Hofkapelle and later Staatskapelle Dresden.

Or when it comes to the works of such highly esteemed „newcomers“ as Johannes Brahms or Richard Strauss: „You must have been to the Heuriger, in the Vienna Woods, in Baden and so on.“ Weber and later Richard Wagner trained their ideas of sound on the Dresdeners; It is no coincidence that Strauss staged many of his opera premieres in Dresden – and was also one of the particular favourites of the Vienna Philharmonic. Is it any wonder that the people of Dresden, like the Viennese, are still the orchestras closest to Thielemann?

„First of all, they have something crucial in common,“ he reveals: „These are two opera orchestras that also give concerts. This is incredibly important and extremely rare at this world level. The tradition there and there also cultivates this mixed, soft, unaggressive sound. The music postures are similar, which is very nice for me because I can try in the same way. But: The Viennese are just the Catholic orchestra with a penchant for High Mass, a lot of incense and magnificently dressed cardinals.

In Dresden, on the other hand, we are Protestants – and that’s something else. Not soberer, but a bit more restrained, which gets the pieces excellently because they are never played too loud. That’s another link: I have achieved the most beautiful pianissimi of my conducting life with these two.“ Expressive fortissimo with the most delicate sound in places: these are still to be expected in the Golden Hall – with four desired programmes and the two desired orchestras: the Staatskapelle Dresden, whose chief conductor he will continue until 2024, and the Vienna Philharmonic.

© Matthias Creutziger

With the Viennese, there are two intensive evenings with the music of Johannes Brahms, who has not played such a significant role in Thielemann’s Vienna performances so far. He juxtaposes Symphonies 2 and 3, a novelty of the Musikverein for him, with the two piano concertos, whose solo parts are taken over by Igor Levit: a combination of interpreters that promises the extraordinary. In addition, two guest performances of the Dresdeners, who pay homage to their household gods: Wagner and Strauss. The overture to „Tannhäuser“, „An Alpine Symphony“, and the waltzes from „Der Rosenkavalier“, all works premiered by the Staatskapelle, as well as „Also sprach Zarathustra“.

Two rarities not to forget: With the celebrated violist Antoine Tamestit, Thielemann also takes a stand for Paul Hindemith’s viola concerto „Der Schwanendreher“. And in Carl Maria von Weber’s „Jubilee Overture“, the well-known melody „God save the King“ is heard last, which of course, also served all sorts of patriotic purposes in Germany as „Heil dir im Siegerkranz“ – in Weber’s case the 50th anniversary of the throne of Frederick August III as Elector of Saxony.

Text by Walter Weidringer.

Musikverein Wien, red carpet, staircase to the Großer Musikvereinssaal and Brahms Saal

© Simon Fowler | Warner Classics

Beatrice Rana

From her native Puglia, Beatrice Rana set out to conquer the classical music world. In 2023/24, the Musikverein will focus on the thirty-year-old pianist and dedicate her focus to her with three programmes in which she can demonstrate her stylistic confidence in a wide-ranging repertoire.

Musikverein Wien, interior, Großer Musikvereinssaal, Golden Hall, architecture, organ, rows of seats, seating, ceiling painting

© Todd Rosenberg

Riccardo Muti

You would like to have been there in 1973 at the Vienna Philharmonic Ball. The opening was conducted by a not quite 32-year-old Italian, from whom miracles had already been heard: Riccardo Muti. The Musikverein was to become a home for him, a centre of his world career. Fifty years after his debut, the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna is dedicating a seasonal focus to its honorary member: Riccardo Muti in direction.

Musikverein Wien, interior, Großer Musikvereinssaal, Golden Hall, architecture, organ, rows of seats, seating, ceiling painting

© Mathias Bothor

Karina Canellakis

She is well on her way to conquering the world’s concert stages: The New York conductor Karina Canellakis presents herself as an artist in focus.

Musikverein Wien, red carpet, staircase to the Großer Musikvereinssaal and Brahms Saal

© Marco Borggreve

Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Santtu-Matias Rouvali is currently in the process of taking off internationally. The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna will focus on the young Finnish conductor in 2023/24: Santtu-Matias Rouvali conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra London and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.