Gstaad Menuhin Festival 2024

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Gstaad Menuhin Festival 2024

July 12 - August 31

Tickets for the concerts in the Gstaad Festival Tent are available online and by phone as of 15 December 2023, for all other concerts on 1 February 2024.

 

 

TRANSFORMATION – CYCLE “CHANGE II”

We find ourselves in a time of change. Our organisation is committed to execute the Festival in a more resource-efficient and sustainable manner, thereby positioning it in the right place for the future. With this project, named “Mission Menuhin”, we eagerly enter the second year of our three-year programme cycle “Change”.

Transformation. Transformation has always been an integral part of human development, or else we would still be dwelling in caves nowadays. However, the term “transformation” is being used excessively in the years 2023 and 2024. In the current German coalition agreement, the term appears no less than a total of forty-two times. The energy transition is a technology revolution of huge impact, while the term digital transformation has been introduced to talk about the various changes in business and society due to the increased usage of digital technologies. Social values are changing rapidly, and anything that needs to change must undergo processes of transformation. Clinging to the old equals stagnation. Innovation is in high demand. The continuous pursuit of the unknown has kept the cultural scene in an unceasing state of change from the very beginning. Humanity continues to evolve culture from one generation to the next, constantly shedding new light on their own surroundings. Simultaneously, it requires courage to create something new and to experiment. To maintain relevance, we must exhibit a certain level of consistency and radicalism in artistic expression. We need new concert forms, fresh formats, innovative modes of expression, and new musical languages to effectively fulfill our cultural mission and, in the process, reach new audiences.

Transformation unleashes forces, as resources are converted into new forms of expression. The energy gained from transformation is the only element that can reduce the acceleration of climate change, accompanied by the adoption of new, sustainable energy sources. Transformative processes within our society also come along with altered ways of life, new values, shifts in mindset, new positionings and priorities, as well as the rise of a new generation, the Generation Z (1995 – 2010), which fundamentally embraces different stances regarding sustainability and climate protection, as evidenced by global movements like “Fridays for Future”.

“Trans” is a Latin preposition that translates to “across” or “beyond”. It signifies movement from one place to another (trans-port), or a transition from one state to the next (trans-formation). In nature, transmissions guide the journey from the earthly realm to the ethereal, or even the mystical (trans-cendence). Values and knowledge are handed down from one generation to the next (trans-mission), close connections and cultural exchange facilitate the transfer of language (trans-lation), and so on …

In view of the 68th edition of Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy 2024, our aim is to infuse these transformative energies into music. Therefore, we’ve grouped all concerts into three thematic areas, creating a programme that unfolds on three unique levels: “Trans-cendence”, “Trans-Mission”, and “Trans-Classics”.

Music inherently wields a profound metaphysical influence, hovering in its expression between the earthly and the ethereal, between sensual perception and access to formless dream worlds. The transcendence of a tragic moment through love forms the core of Richard Dehmel’s “Verklärte Nacht”, that inspired Arnold Schönberg in composing his eponymous string sextet in 1899. The transcendental quality in the songs of Franz Schubert and the lyrical elements in his mass compositions beautifully converge in his Mass No. 5 in A-flat major. From Richard Strauss’ “Metamorphosen” resonates a transcendent music, liberated from all externalities, that bears witness to profound emotional turmoil, which burdened Strauss heavily after witnessing the destruction of his hometown, Munich, in 1946. Few operatic works delve as deeply into the yearning for transcendence as Wagner’s “Tristan”. The wish for annihilation in “love-death” as the only path to the union of lovers and the glorification of night as a mysterious metaphysical homeland: Friedrich Nietzsche even called “Tristan and Isolde” the “true opus metaphysicum of all the arts”. In Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, the core concept revolves around the idea of suffering. Bearing the subtitle “Titan” in reference to a writing by Jean Paul, it follows the structure of a funeral march after the first two movements, mourning the world’s misery and sorrow. The finale commences as “the sudden eruption of a profoundly wounded heart” (in Mahler’s own words). Differing from Goethe’s “Werther,” the final movement concludes with an apotheosis. During its first performance in Weimar, the choral movement was titles “Dall’ Inferno al Paradiso” (“From Hell to Paradise”).

In Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”, the focus shifts towards celestial music. The suite sketches the life journey of a person from youth to the old age, who, after leaving behind their human life, ascends to a new mystical plane. Along this journey, specific stages of personality development are portrayed through individual planetary movements. These movements encapsulate the entire spectrum of human personality, commencing with Mars as a symbol of rebellion, youth, and aggression and culminating with Neptune, representing metaphysical clarity and tranquillity (Source: Greene, Richard. Holst: The Planets. Cambridge University Press, 1995). All seven movements as part of the composition embody the musicalization of a human soul’s journey, serving the personal process of self-maturation and culminating in the transcendence of the soul to a higher level of consciousness.

We delve into the concept of “Trans-Mission” when it comes to the evolution of values, knowledge, culture and traditions across generations and eras. The transfer of wisdom, sharing experiences from one generation to the next, from idols to their admirers, from mentors to students, from parents to children, … all of it is intertwined with change, challenges of adaptation, metamorphosis, and reorientation. What we’ve been practicing as part of our academies for many years in the spirit of our Festival founder, Yehudi Menuhin, will now also become a central part of our concert programme. Think about Mozart, who pays tribute to his idol when dedicating his string quartets to Haydn, or about Bruckner and his art of transforming harmonies as made popular by Wagner in his Symphony No. 7, or the portrait of the almost forgotten 19th-century cellist Lisa Cristiani, or the premieres of composers like Emilie Mayer and Fanny Hensel – transmission is understood as the preservation and dissemination of musical values and compositions and is considered in the context of the constant transformation of the social environment in today’s world.

Finally, we’ll get to explore what we call the “Trans-Classics” series, which deals with the realm of performance and concert formats. I am convinced that in 10 years, there will be no more festivals revolving purely around classical music. Even in physical performance formats, transformations will occur, especially when it comes to the most “basic principle” of analogue performances: the concert. In the Baroque and Classical eras, concertgoers freely imbibed, dined, conversed, even danced, and made love during performances. However, as the Biedermeier and Romantic periods unfolded, and the educated bourgeoisie took centre stage, a distinct style of concert emerged, and its traditions continue to show their influence up until today. This includes dress codes for musicians and the audience, and suddenly, applause was only allowed at designated moments during the concert, next to strict times for entry and exit. Fortunately, classical music organisers have recognised that new audience segments and the younger generations have different expectations for the live music experience compared to what was considered the norm until recently. They want to be caressed, stimulated, challenged, but also just entertained by music. The classical music world is currently going through a period of transformation. To engage people and capture their long-term interest, there is a high demand for a shift and transformation in concert formats. The conventional classical concert format can no longer rely on repeating the same patterns and routines. Instruments are no longer confined to a specific era or genre; they traverse boundaries and evolve within concert programmes. The ideas behind programmes and styles of performances are transforming. The distinction between the so-called “E”- and “U”- music (the “high” and rather “popular” music) is becoming blurred. There will be fewer classical concerts in the “puristic” style in the future. The scene calls for opening itself and a character marked by accessibility and broad appeal. Musicians are exemplifying this transformation through inventive programme sequences and configurations, blending genres, styles, epochs, and exploring novel modes of expression and interpretation. When a lutenist and a soprano perform John Dowland, Henry Purcell, and Bob Dylan in the same program, or when a guitarist, backed by a Baroque orchestra, intertwines Vivaldi and Bach with Beatles classics, it can be seen as an immersive concert experience. When a breakdance group interpret Mozart, we perceive it as enthralling and pioneering – a concert format rich of experiential value. When a classical string quartet freely improvises on jazz and pop standards following a rendition of Shostakovich, and the evening culminates in a DJ party or ultimately when Dvorak’s Bohemian folk music becomes woven into his symphonies, these are transformative processes, accompanied by the deliberate dismantling of outdated barriers.

How do we place the concerts of the “Music for the Planet” series within the context of transformation? Venice, a city of longing and dreams, a city steeped in the echoes of its glorious musical past, yet it also symbolises death as a place of haunting, of immersion in forces that cannot be controlled. In her tribute to Venice, Anastasia Kobekina meditates through a blend of old and new melodies on the imagery of dreams and the grand topic of the transience of this lagoon city, whose existence is now challenged by rising sea levels.

Patricia Kopatchinksja’s “Time and Eternity” delves into stages of transformation, moments of catastrophic warfare and their consequences, while also embracing hope. In 1939, Karl Amadeus Hartmann composed his Concerto funebre as an expression of despair in face of the horrors unleashed by the Nazi regime, which threatened the European civilization with its downfall. The Concerto funebre can be seen as a portrayal of passion, a testimony to the suffering inflicted upon humans, all living beings, the very act of creation itself, and, perhaps, even the Creator (God?). In his Polyptyque (a violin concerto composed in 1973 for Yehudi Menuhin), Frank Martin set to music the Passion of Christ, drawing inspiration from paintings by Duccio di Buoninsegna (ca. 1255 – 1319) that he saw on the backside of the famous Maestà Altarpiece in Siena. Frank Martin found himself moved by the narrative of the Passion, which tells of God’s empathy with the suffering of the world. According to the Christian belief, this suffering paves the way for eternal redemption – a wellspring of hope during times of transformative upheaval, including the challenges posed by climate change.

What does change, any form of transformation within myself, within all of us really mean? As we navigate between societal responsibility and our individual lives, and oscillate between pessimism and hope, the 2024 Festival edition offers countless opportunities to collectively explore these questions. Surrounded by music, with all its varying emotions, images, and thematic connections, there is more time and space to contemplate these significant questions than in our hectic everyday lives.

Inspired by the programme of the 68th Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy 2024, we look forward to sharing a transformative, energising, and joyful summer of concerts with our audience from July 12th to August 31st, 2024.

Fired up and filled with enthusiasm,
Christoph Müller
Artistic Director, Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy

 

 

In 1957 Yehudi Menuhin and his family moved to Gstaad where he was fascinated and inspired by the elemental power of the region’s natural environment and commanding mountains. He was impressed not only by the Saanenland’s magnificent alpine arena, but also by the meeting of Western Switzerland, German-speaking culture, and the nearby South with its Italian lifestyle. Since Gstaad and its surrounding area also offered an ideal environment for an international education for his children (among others, the «Le Rosey» Institute and the International Kennedy School are based in the Saanenland), Menuhin settled with his family in the area. Walking in the mountains with his children, the city-dweller discovered the natural world of the native population, who were also to inspire Menuhin with their folklore and music.

Details

Start:
July 12
End:
August 31
Event Category:
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Website:
https://www.gstaadmenuhinfestival.ch/en

Organizer

Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy
Phone
+41 33 748 81 82
Email
info@gstaadmenuhinfestival.ch
View Organizer Website

Venue

Gstaad
Gstaad, Switzerland + Google Map