The year 2018 marks the 100th birthdays of two great composers whose names are closely linked with the Carinthian Summer Festival: Leonard Bernstein and Gottfried von Einem. At first sight, they were very different personalities but from closer up, we can see that they had a few things in common – both were seeking to be close to their audiences and they were staunch defenders of tonality and a timeless concept of beauty. These features automatically pitted them against what was the mainstream avantgarde of their eras, a fact which did not bother them in the least.
Leonard Bernstein, charismatic, spontaneous and energetic, the epitome of the American conductor and composer, was honoured through the one-week First European Bernstein Festival, which took place during the Carinthian Summer Festival of 1977. It culminated in the first ever European performance of Bernstein’s Third Symphony Kaddish in its revised version, played by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by the composer himself in Villach on 20 August 1977. For the concert to mark his 100th birthday, RSO Vienna will play Bernstein’s Second Symphony The Age of Anxiety and the popular Candide overture. The South-African youth orchestra MIAGI will take us back to Lenny’s roots in American jazz tradition with Prélude, Fugue & Riffs. Bernstein’s last composition for choir, his powerful Missa Brevis, will be performed in the framework of the series of festive Sunday Masses.
As an honorary member, Gottfried von Einem had close ties to the Carinthian Summer Festival for many years, gifting it with several premières. He loved the atmosphere of Ossiach, where he spent almost every summer between 1971 and 1994: “With joy and humility it is possible every year to organise a festival which is personal and intimate. This is a place where you feel like you are walking on air. And there are the familiar people who inspire my work, this is why I feel at home at the Carinthian Summer Festival.” In 2016 the Carinthian Summer Festival rekindled the audience’s enthusiasm for Einem’s late dramatic oeuvre with a new production of the opera Jesu Hochzeit; this year, the concert of the RSO Vienna will focus on Einem’s orchestral works of the 1940ies: his Concerto for Orchestra (1944) and the suite based on the opera Danton’s Tod. When Danton premièred at the Salzburg Festival in 1947, Gottfried von Einem’s worldwide career as an opera composer took off. The lieder recital of young baritone Benjamin Appl will show the connections between von Einem’s oeuvre and the great lieder tradition of the Romantic age. To round off the programme, the CS solo vocalists will sing the Missa Claravallensis at the Abbey Church of Ossiach.