Gala concert

Artificial Paradises

Sept. 8, 2019
11 a.m.
Kölner Philharmonie

Edgard Varèse

»Octandre« for eight instruments (1923)

Richard Strauss

»Tod und Verklärung« tone poem (1888/89)

Hector Berlioz

»Symphonie fantastique« Episode from the life of an artist (1830)

“An Episode in the Life of an Artist” – the subtitle of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique could serve as the motto of the entire gala concert. To kick off the season, Francois-Xavier Roth is bringing together three composers who redefined the sound of the orchestra: Richard Strauss got to know Berlioz’s instrumentation through the agency of Edgard Varèse, whose earlier orchestral works he once conducted. Varèse’s piece for winds Octandre with its states of shock functioned like a revolutionary new departure in 1923. Strauss, in contrast, portrays in Death and Transfiguration the final hours of a person who “had striven for the highest ideal goals”. In his “fantastic symphony”, Berlioz’s ideal image of a woman becomes an unattainable “idée fixe” for the artist: disappointed, he flees to “artificial paradises”. This episode turned out more favourably for Berlioz in real life: he married his beloved, upon whom he’d first set his eyes on a theatre stage. Creative states of emergency that break down the boundaries between life and death, fiction and reality, past and future. General Music Director Francois-Xavier Roth will start the season with his Gürzenich Orchestra, at the same time inviting the musicians of the expanded Orchestra Academy to share the limelight.

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