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RODERIC DUNNETT on a Max Brand UK première

 

It's not just the BBC and the South Bank which promote important London overviews of individual, or a group of, composers. Over the past few years, few have done so much, or engaged in such original programming, as the Austrian Cultural Forum.

Berg, Webern, Schmidt, Schreker, Schoenberg, Zemlinsky, Korngold, Krenek, von Einem, Max Gall, Adolf Busch, Egon Wellesz -- victims of the Third Reich, like Ullmann, Haas and Krasa, and both older and younger composers of today -- are among those the Austrians have thoughtfully and intelligently showcased, sometimes (as here) in collaboration, in shrewdly devised programmes.

Shortly before Christmas, in October and November 2001, in collaboration with the Jewish Music Institute's newly founded International Forum for Suppressed Music, which strives to restore the music banned by the Third Reich and has as its patron Sir Simon Rattle, they mounted a major retrospective : Vienna, Berlin, London : the trails of Creativity 1918-38.

Egon Wellesz (left) and Ervin Schulhoff. Photos © Schott/Universal Edition

A series of interviews (with, among others, the accompanist Paul Hamburger and veteran composer Vilem Tausky), symposia on interwar film, an extensive London Film Season, five Exhibitions (including one on Mahler's friend, the influential journalist, collector and cultural impresario David Josef Bach), Cultural and Literary fora, Cabaret events, and a range of concerts (Ervin Schulhoff's Piano Concerto was one striking inclusion; the première of Egon Wellesz's Suite, Op 56 and a rare piano duet performance of Schreker's The Birthday of the Infanta were others) amounted to one of the most dynamic, intelligently focused events to be mounted in London for years.

Franz Schreker and his wife. Photo © Franz Schreker Foundation

 

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Copyright © 27 January 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY OPERA

AUSTRIAN CULTURAL FORUM, LONDON

THE JEWISH MUSIC INSTITUTE, LONDON

THE FRANZ SCHREKER FOUNDATION

 

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