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— N E W S - R E L E A S E —

The Cleveland Orchestra
announces details of annual
European Tour for September 2014

Cleveland returns to BBC Proms for first performances in London since 2005

Tour features musical mix of newer and older romantics, juxtaposing works by Johannes Brahms and Jörg Widmann

Berlin concert is special all-Widmann program

Tour includes six performances of Widmann’s flute concerto, “Flûte en suite,” with Cleveland’s principal flute Joshua Smith, who premiered it in 2011

Three concerts will be played in Vienna, three at Linz’s Brucknerhaus, two programs in Paris, and one in Amsterdam

Release Date:  20-June-2014

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Orchestra embarks on its 14th international concert tour under the direction of music director Franz Welser-Möst in September 2014, performing 13 concerts in 7 cities between September 7 and 22. 

For the tour, which features appearances at a number of Europe’s festivals and at premier concert halls across the continent, Welser-Möst has chosen to program works by two romantic composers, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and Jörg Widmann (b. 1973).  The tour brings together the unusual juxtaposition of music by one of the 19th century’s great masters with an acclaimed living composer with whom The Cleveland Orchestra has enjoyed a strong artistic relationship. 

“There is no other orchestra playing music from the recent era — from the last sixty years —better than Cleveland at this time,” says Welser-Möst.  “Jörg Widmann and The Cleveland Orchestra makes perfect sense because of this.  Adding Brahms to the mix is also the right step in Cleveland’s progression among the world’s most wondrous orchestras, combining two great romantics, a modern one and a grand master.  Together and each of these composers separately, push us to work as one united ensemble, from the podium and across all the stands of individual artistry, all of us breathing together.”

Jörg Widmann served as the Orchestra’s composer-in-residence under its Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow Program, 2009-2011.  Both Widmann and Brahms are well known for their romantic and melodic writing, as well as for the rigor of their studies and compositions.  Both composers have also been acclaimed as instrumentalists — Brahms was praised among the 19th century’s most feeling and ardent pianists, while Widmann has been acclaimed as a solo clarinetist performing with many of the world’s finest ensembles.  

The pairing of Brahms and Widmann follows on Welser-Möst’s recent programming of works by John Adams with symphonies of Anton Bruckner, most prominently at the 2011 Lincoln Center Festival, and the pairing of symphonies by Beethoven and Shostakovich, which was featured at concerts in Cleveland, Paris, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Vienna in autumn 2013.

The tour begins with two performances at the BBC Proms, on September 7 and 8, marking the first time in a decade that The Cleveland Orchestra has appeared in London, continues with a single program at the 2014 Lucerne Festival, and concludes at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw on September 22.   In between, the Orchestra performs an all-Widmann program in Berlin, three concerts in Linz and two in Paris, plus two programs at Vienna’s Musikverein, where the Orchestra has appeared in biennial residencies throughout Welser-Möst’s tenure as music director in Cleveland, and one at Vienna’s Konzerthaus.

Two soloists are featured in the programs.  Joshua Smith, who has served as The Cleveland Orchestra’s principal flute since 1990, will perform Widmann’s “Flûte en suite,” a concerto commissioned by Cleveland for Smith and given its world premiere in 2011.  The concerto will be presented in six of the Orchestra’s thirteen concerts across Europe in September.  In addition, violinist Nikolaj Znaider will appear as guest soloist to perform the Brahms Violin Concerto in Paris.

The tour concerts highlight the four symphonies of Johannes Brahms.  All four will be performed in Vienna across the three concerts there, September 14, 15, and 16. 

In addition to the flute concerto, three orchestral works by Jörg Widmann are being featured during the tour — “Lied” (or “Song”), “Con brio” (a concert overture for orchestra), and “Teufel Amor” (or “Devil Love,” a “Symphonic Hymn after Schiller”).   All four works are being presented in a special all-Widmann program at Berlin’s Philharmonie on Thursday evening, September 11.  Widmann is particularly well known and acclaimed in his native Germany, and The Cleveland Orchestra’s concert represents an unusual honor for the composer’s work to be the complete focus of a program by a foreign orchestra.  The Cleveland Orchestra has performed a variety of Widmann’s works at home in Cleveland  in recent seasons, beginning with “Chor” in 2009. 

Prior to the tour, The Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst will present two different concerts, August 29 at Severance Hall and August 31 at Blossom Music Center, highlighting much of the tour’s repertoire at home in Northeast Ohio. 

SPONSORSHIP AND FUNDING
The Cleveland Orchestra acknowledges the following corporations and individuals for their generous support of the 2014 European Tour:  Tele München Group, Miba AG, Dr. Herbert G. Kloiber, Dr. and Mrs. Wolfgang Berndt, Mr. and Mrs. Harro Bodmer, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Umdasch, and Elisabeth and Karlheinz Muhr.  With special thanks and recognition for international touring sponsorship by Jones Day.

CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA RESIDENCIES
In addition to an extensive touring schedule, Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra have achieved high-profile residencies in the United States and in Europe, including ongoing biennial residencies at the Musikverein in Vienna and an annual set of performances in Miami, Florida.  In the first dozen years of his tenure as music director, Welser-Möst and the Orchestra have performed throughout Europe, in Canada, Japan, and Korea, and have toured the U.S. from coast to coast, including regular performances in New York City.  In January 2007, they began an unprecedented long-term residency project in Miami, Florida, where they perform under the name Cleveland Orchestra Miami several weeks of subscription concerts annually at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and partner with the community and area learning institutions in a wide array of engagement and education activities.  The Orchestra has regularly held academic residencies at Indiana University, and a program of recurring residencies has begun with New York’s Lincoln Center Festival.

THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA

2014 European Tour


September 7, 8                                London
September 10                                   Lucerne
September 11                                   Berlin
September 13                                   Linz
September 14, 15, 16                     Vienna
September 17 , 18                           Linz
September 20, 21                            Paris
September 22                                   Amsterdam


BBC Proms, London (Royal Albert Hall) – 7:30pm
Sunday, September 7, 2014 — LIVE BBC RADIO BROADCAST
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Joshua Smith, flute
     BRAHMS - Academic Festival Overture
     WIDMANN - Flûte en suite (for flute and orchestra)
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 1

BBC Proms, London (Royal Albert Hall) – 7:00pm
Monday, September 8, 2014 — LIVE BBC RADIO BROADCAST
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
     BRAHMS - Tragic Overture
     WIDMANN - Teufel Amor: Symphonic Hymn after Schiller
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 2

Lucerne (KKL) – 7:30pm
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Joshua Smith, flute
     BRAHMS - Academic Festival Overture
     WIDMANN - Flûte en suite (for flute and orchestra)
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 1

Berlin (Philharmonie) – 8:00pm
Thursday, September 11, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Joshua Smith, flute
     WIDMANN - Lied
     WIDMANN - Flûte en suite (for flute and orchestra)
     WIDMANN - Con brio (concert overture for orchestra)
     WIDMANN - Teufel Amor: Symphonic Hymn after Schiller

Linz (Brucknerhaus) – 7:30pm
Saturday, September 13, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Joshua Smith, flute
     BRAHMS - Academic Festival Overture
     WIDMANN - Flûte en suite (for flute and orchestra)
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 1

Vienna (Musikverein) – 7:30pm
Sunday, September 14, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Joshua Smith, flute
     BRAHMS - Academic Festival Overture
     WIDMANN - Flûte en suite (for flute and orchestra)
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 1

Vienna (Musikverein) – 7:30pm
Monday, September 15, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
     WIDMANN - Con brio (concert overture for orchestra)
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 3
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 2

Vienna (Konzerthaus) – 7:30pm
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
     BRAHMS - Tragic Overture
     WIDMANN - Teufel Amor: Symphonic Hymn after Schiller
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 4

Linz (Brucknerhaus) – 7:30pm
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
     BRAHMS - Tragic Overture
     WIDMANN - Teufel Amor: Symphonic Hymn after Schiller
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 2

Linz (Brucknerhaus) – 7:30pm
Thursday, September 18, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
     WIDMANN - Con brio (concert overture for orchestra)
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 3
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 4

Paris (Salle Pleyel) – 8:00pm
Saturday, September 20, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Nikolaj Znaider, violin
     BRAHMS - Violin Concerto
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 1

Paris (Salle Pleyel) – 4:00pm
Sunday, September 21, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
     BRAHMS - Tragic Overture
     WIDMANN - Teufel Amor: Symphonic Hymn after Schiller
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 2

Amsterdam (Concertgebouw) – 8:15pm
Monday, September 22, 2014
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Joshua Smith, flute
     BRAHMS - Academic Festival Overture
     WIDMANN - Flute en suite (for flute and orchestra)
     BRAHMS - Symphony No. 2


All artists and programs are subject to change.

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS
At the end of this release are brief bios of:

  1. The Cleveland Orchestra
  2. Franz Welser-Möst
  3. Joshua Smith
    plus
  4. biography of composer Jörg Widmann
  5. information/notes about the four Widmann pieces being performed on tour

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Eric Sellen  (U.S. Western timezone)
esellen@clevelandorchestra.com     /   office 216-220-0670

Kathy Pahr  (U.S. Eastern timezone)
kpahr@clevelandorchestra.com     /   office 216-231-7518 or mobile 440-478-4207

GERMANY
Peggy Schmidt
Peggy.Schmidt@psmusicberlin.com     /   mobile:  +49 (0)30 3087597 15

AUSTRIA
Claudia Flekatsch-Kapsamer
kapsamerPR@flekatsch.at     /   mobile:  +43/664 346 15 30

HOLLAND  
Viv Goldberg
vgoldberg@imgartists.com     /   office:  +44 (0)20 7957 5892 or mobile:  +44 (0)7889 613961


The Cleveland Orchestra

As it nears the centennial of its founding in 2018, The Cleveland Orchestra is undergoing a new transformation and renaissance.  Universally-acknowledged among the best ensembles on the planet, its musicians, staff, board of directors, volunteers, and hometown are working together on a set of enhanced goals for the 21st century — to develop the youngest audience of any orchestra, to renew its focus on fully serving the communities where it performs through engagement and education, to continue its legendary command of musical excellence, and to move forward into the Orchestra’s next century with a strong commitment to adventuresome programming and new music.

The Cleveland Orchestra divides its time each year across concert seasons at home in Cleveland’s Severance Hall and at Blossom Music Center each summer, while presenting an extensive array of innovative education programs and engaging community offerings.  Additional portions of the year are devoted to touring and to a series of intensive performance residencies.  These include an annual set of concerts and education programs and partnerships in Miami, Florida, and recurring residencies at Vienna’s Musikverein, Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival, New York’s Lincoln Center Festival, and with Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

Musical Excellence.  Under the leadership of Franz Welser-Möst, entering his thirteenth season as the ensemble’s music director in 2014-15, The Cleveland Orchestra is acknowledged as among the world’s handful of best orchestras.  Its performances of standard repertoire and new works are unrivalled at home in Ohio, in residencies around the globe, on tour across North America and Europe, and through recordings, telecasts, and radio and internet broadcasts. 

Serving the Community.  Programs for students and community engagement activities have long been part of the Orchestra’s commitment to serving Cleveland and surrounding communities, and have more recently been extended to its touring and residencies.  All are designed to connect people to music in the concert hall, in classrooms, and in everyday lives.  Championed by Welser-Möst, a new Make Music! initiative is taking shape, to advocate for the benefits of direct participation in making music for citizens of all ages.

Future Audiences.  Standing on the shoulders of ninety years of presenting quality music education and music-making programs, the Orchestra made national and international headlines through the creation of its Center for Future Audiences in 2010.  Established with a significant endowment gift from the Maltz Family Foundation, the Center is designed to provide ongoing and new sources of funding for the Orchestra’s continuing work to develop interest in classical music among young people. The flagship “Under 18s Free” program has seen unparalleled success in increasing attendance and interest, and was recently extended to the Orchestra's annual residency in Miami, Florida.

Innovative Programming.  The Cleveland Orchestra was among the first American orchestras heard on a regular series of radio broadcasts, and its Severance Hall home was one of the first concert halls in the world built with recording and broadcasting capabilities.  Today, Cleveland Orchestra concerts are presented in a variety of formats for a variety of audiences — including a popular Fridays@7 series (mixing onstage symphonic works with post-concert world music performances), film scores performed live by the Orchestra, collaborations with pop and jazz singers, ballet and opera presentations, and standard repertoire juxtaposed in meaningful contexts with new and older works.   

Origins and Evolution.  The Cleveland Orchestra was founded in 1918 by a group of local citizens intent on creating an ensemble worthy of joining America’s top rank of symphony orchestras.  Seven music directors of increasing international reputation have guided and shaped the ensemble’s growth and sound:  Nikolai Sokoloff, 1918-1933; Artur Rodzinski, 1933-1943; Erich Leinsdorf, 1943-1946; George Szell, 1946-1970; Lorin Maazel, 1972-1982; Christoph von Dohnányi, 1984-2002; and Franz Welser-Möst, since 2002. 


Franz Welser-Möst 

Franz Welser-Möst is among the most acclaimed orchestral and operatic conductors working today.   As the artistic leader of two of the world’s most prestigious institutions — Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra since 2002 and General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera since 2010 — he is impacting classical music worldwide through his programming, conducting, and a focused approach to education, community responsibility, and learning.  He holds the Kelvin Smith Family Music Director Endowed Chair with The Cleveland Orchestra.

With Welser-Möst’s leadership, The Cleveland Orchestra is acknowledged for its musical excellence, acclaimed for its innovative series of ongoing residencies in the United States and Europe, admired for its continuing championship of new composers, and praised for its community-connected education programs and performance presentations.  He has led eleven opera presentations in Cleveland, in concert or fully staged, including a brand-new production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen in May 2014 with projections created by Walter Robot Studios.  Other operas presented at Severance Hall during Welser-Möst’s tenure have been encored under his direction — Strauss’s Salome in 2012 at Carnegie Hall and Dvořák’s Rusalka at the 2008 Salzburg Festival.

In addition to his post as General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera, Mr. Welser-Möst maintains an ongoing relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic, with recent appearances including performances in New York, Lucerne, Salzburg, Milan, and Tokyo.  He has twice been invited to lead the Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s concert, in 2011 and 2013, telecast to millions of music lovers worldwide.  Across a decade-long tenure with the Zurich Opera, culminating in three seasons as General Music Director (2005-08), he led the company in more than 40 new productions. 

Mr. Welser-Möst’s recordings and videos have won international awards and two Grammy nominations.  He has led The Cleveland Orchestra in video recordings of live performances of Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9. The most recent release, of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony, was given the Bruckner Society of America’s award as best video recording of the year in 2013.  Together, Mr. Welser-Möst and the Orchestra have also recorded works by Beethoven and Wagner, and are currently in the midst of a Brahms recording project.

For his talents and dedication, Mr. Welser-Möst has received honors that include recognition from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, honorary membership in the Vienna Singverein, appointment as an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste, a Decoration of Honor from the Republic of Austria for his artistic achievements, and the Kilenyi Medal from the Bruckner Society of America. Mr. Welser-Möst is the co-author of Cadences: Observations and Conversations.


Joshua Smith, flute

Firmly established as one of America’s outstanding flutists, Joshua Smith is equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator.  He has served as The Cleveland Orchestra’s principal flute since 1990, holding the Elizabeth M. and William C. Treuhaft Principal Flute Endowed Chair.  He is the featured  soloist for the Orchestra’s European Tour in September 2014, performing Jörg Widmann’s flute concerto, commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra for him. 

Smith received a Grammy nomination for his Telarc recording, Air, and has recorded two discs with harpsichordist Jory Vinikour dedicated to the Sonatas of J.S. Bach.  He appeared on a Live from the Marlboro Music Festival recording and can be heard on over 100 Cleveland Orchestra recordings.

Intrigued with exploring new ways of connecting with audiences, Smith leads the chamber group Ensemble HD, which features Cleveland Orchestra members and guests.  Ensemble HD released its first double vinyl album in May 2013, Live at the Happy Dog.

Smith appears regularly as a chamber musician on the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series, at the Marlboro and Santa Fe Music Festivals, and with the Israeli Chamber Project.  He has performed in collaborative concerts at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Pensacola Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, and the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

For further  information about Joshua Smith, visit www.soloflute.com, or inquire via the artist’s management, Genevieve Spielberg Inc. at 908-608-1325 or email to info@gsiartists.com.


ABOUT THE COMPOSER

Jörg Widmann, composer
Jörg Widmann was born in Munich in June 1973, and studied clarinet with Gerd Starke at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich and later (1994-1995) with Charles Neidich at the Juilliard School in New York.  He began taking composition lessons with Kay Westermann at the age of eleven and subsequently continued his studies with Wilfried Hiller and Hans Werner Henze (1994-1996) and later with Heiner Goebbels and Wolfgang Rihm in Karlsruhe (1997-1999).  In 2001, Jörg Widmann was appointed as the successor to Dieter Klöcker as professor of clarinet at the Freiburg Staatliche Hochschule für Musik.  He became a professor of composition there in 2009.

A series of string quartets, written between 1997 and 2005, form one core of Widmann’s creative output.  The five string quartets are intended as a large cycle, with each individual work following a traditional form or setting.   These are:  String Quartet No. I (1997), followed by Choralquartett (2003, revised 2006) and Jagdquartett (premiered by the Arditti Quartet in 2003).  The series was completed in 2005 with String Quartet No. IV, first performed by the Vogler Quartet, and Quartet No. V “Versuch über die Fuge” [Attempt at a Fugue], which features a soprano solo and was premiered by Juliane Banse with the Artemis Quartet. 

Widmann has also composed a trilogy of works for large orchestra in which he studied the transformation of vocal forms for instrumental forces:  Lied (2003-09), Chor (2004), and Messe (2005).  In 2007, Christian Tetzlaff and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie gave the premiere of Widmann’s first Violin Concerto.  The same year, Pierre Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic gave the first performance of Armonica for orchestra, in which Widmann combined the tonal colors of a glass harmonica with orchestra to produce a homogeneously breathing body of sounds and sound effects.  This was followed by Con brio, an homage to Beethoven.  Widmann’s new concerto for flute, titled Flûte en suite, was premiered by The Cleveland Orchestra and principal flute Joshua Smith in May 2011.

Widmann has also created musical theater works, including the opera Das Gesicht im Spiegel, which was chosen by the German magazine Opernwelt as the most significant first performance of the 2003-04 season.  Am Anfang (2009) was the result of a unique collaboration between a visual artist and a composer; Widmann created the work together with the German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer and conducted the world premiere for the 20th anniversary of the Opéra Bastille in Paris.  His most recent work is a music-drama called Babylon for the Munich State Opera.

Widmann’s great passion as a clarinetist is chamber music.  He regularly performs with partners such as Tabea Zimmermann, Heinz Holliger, András Schiff, Kim Kashkashian, and Hélène Grimaud.  He has also performed widely as a soloist in orchestral concerts. 
Fellow composers have dedicated several works to Widmann.  He performed the premiere of Music for Clarinet and Orchestra by Wolfgang Rihm in 1999.  In 2006, he performed Cantus by Ari­bert Reimann and, in 2009, at the Lucerne Festival, the world premiere of Rechant by Heinz Holliger.  

In addition to his fellowship as The Cleveland Orchestra’s Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer (2009-11), Jörg Widmann has served as composer-in-residence with the Berlin German Symphony Orchestra, Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vienna Konzerthaus.  He has received many prizes and much recognition for his works, including the 2009 Elise L. Stoeger Prize of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society of New York.  In 2013, he was awarded the Heidelberg Spring Music Award and the GEMA German Music Authors Award.  He is a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and a full member of the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts, the Free Academy of the Arts in Hamburg, and the German Academy of Dramatic Arts.  


ABOUT THE MUSIC

Flûte en suite (for solo flute and orchestra groupings) 

Widmann wrote his Flûte en suite in 2010-11 on a commission from The Cleveland Orchestra for a new flute concerto and as part of his work as the Orchestra’s Lewis Young Composer Fellow for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.  The commission was made possible with generous support from the Young Composers Endowment Fund established by Jan R. and Daniel R. Lewis.  The Cleveland Orchestra presented the world premiere performances of this work on May 26, 27, and 28, 2011, at Severance Hall in Cleveland, with Joshua Smith as soloist and Franz Welser-Möst conducting.       

This concerto runs just over 20 minutes in performance.  Widmann scored it for 3 flutes (second doubling alto flute, third doubling bass flute, all doubling piccolo), 3 oboes (second doubling oboe d’amore, third doubling english horn), 3 bassoons (third doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion (glockenspiel, vibraphone, gongs, hanging cymbals, chinese cymbals, tam-tam, water tam-tam, bass drum, chimes, slapstick), celesta, harpsichord, and strings.

The composer wrote the following program note about this work:

This “SUITE” IS NOT one of my “epic” instrumental concertos — such as the concertos for cello, violin, or oboe — but a substantially smaller-structured series of dance forms arranged into a suite.  Sunken worlds suddenly emerge here, only to reach the surface, hover in dangerously distorted fashion and then sink back to the bottom.

Almost every individual movement allots the solo flute a specific tonal coloring and an instrumental group from the orchestra.  The opening Allemande features the flutes of the orchestra (including alto and bass flute and later also piccolo, and thus the entire flute family).  The string section is featured in the Sarabande.  In both chorales, we hear the brass (extremely muted in the first and brutalist in the second).  It is only in the concluding Badinerie that all orchestral groups are combined, although they are terraced in the Baroque style, one following another, seldom all playing simultaneously.

This permits the flute to remain the provider of all impulses; it attaches itself to the wide variety of instrumental colors, becomes suffused with these colors and thereby shines in different lights — acerbic, pale, and radiant.  The concerto’s first performances mark the conclusion of my two-year residence with The Cleveland Orchestra.  The immense versatility of this fine body of sound (which is indeed treated as such with the sum of its parts) and the exciting dark timbre of its principal flute, Joshua Smith, have to a great extent determined the form and tonal character of my Flûte en suite.
—Jörg Widmann, April 2011

The following comments are excerpted from the program book of The Cleveland Orchestra in January 2011:

“In modern music, sometimes the melody is not the main thing, but when I hear someone like Joshua Smith play, of course, I will write melody,” says Widmann, who despite his ear for innovation also prefers the old-fashioned method of scoring with pen and paper to working at a computer.  “What’s so special about his sound is his low register:  he has this absolutely incredible timbre. I just fell in love with his sound.  When The Cleveland Orchestra was in Salzburg, Joshua Smith and I talked; he’s so open-minded.” 

“I tried to avoid the orchestra being too loud for the flute.   That’s the reason some composers put the flute in the high register, so it can be heard.  I try to avoid a certain kind of writing that uses a flute very loud and in a high register.  That’s only interesting for about 20 seconds,” Widmann says. 

“In the new flute concerto there are many muted sections in the strings and some in the brass, to make a special shadow-like color through it.  There is a Mendelssohnian way of writing, and the flute is always shimmering through the dark timbres.’’


ABOUT THE MUSIC

Teufel Amor:  Symphonic Hymn after Schiller

Widmann wrote his Teufel Amor in 2009-11 on a joint commission from the Vienna Konzerthaus, Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Cologne Musik, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.  The work was premiered on April 13, 2012, at the Vienna Konzerthaus, with Antonio Pappano conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.  The Cleveland Orchestra gave the United States premiere performances of this work in January 2014, under Franz Welser-Möst ’s direction.

Teufel Amor runs about 30 minutes in performance.  Widmann scored it for 2 flutes (both doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (both doubling lotus flute), 3 clarinets (second doubling bass clarinet, third doubling contrabass clarinet), 2 bassoons (second doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 2 trumpets (both doubling piccolo trumpet), 3 trombones, tuba, timpani (2 players), percussion (2 bass drums, 4 bongos, 4 high Brazilian tambourines [without bells], tom-tom, vibraslap, 2 slapsticks, claves, 5 woodblocks, glockenspiel, tubular bells, cymbals, chinese cymbals, 3 tam-tams, knobbed gongs, water tam-tam, vibraphone), harp, celesta, flexatone, and strings.

Teufel Amor was commissioned by a group of European musical institutions and premiered in April 2012 by the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Antonio Pappano.  The composer has written the following commentary about this piece, inspired by two lines that have survived from a lost poem by the German poet Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805):

After the rejection of his drama Die Verschworung des Fiesco zu Genua [“Fiesco’s Conspiracy at Genoa”] by the Mannheim Theater in 1782, Schiller offered his poem Teufel Amor to a bookseller in Frankfurt for 25 guilders.  As the bookseller only offered him 18 guilders for the poem, Schiller, according to Gustav Schwab, “preferred to remain destitute rather than wasting his poetry on a skinflint who was unappreciative of his artistry” and took his poem away with him.  Only one tiny scrap of the poem has survived — albeit an exceedingly poetic and also musical fragment:

Süsser Amor, verweile                    Sweet Amor, remain
Im melodischen Flug                     in melodic flight

A movement as a state of being, and a state of being as movement — an apparently contradictory pair, just like the title of the poem, Teufel Amor, literally translated as “evil love” or “devil love.”  Love itself, however, contains more contradictions than anything else in the world, epitomizing the extremes of heaven and hell, pleasure and suffering, paradise and snake-pit.  Whoever has been touched by the arrow of love is at the same time a human wounded by an arrow.

My imagination was fired by Schiller’s fragment; his conception of the flight of Amor as the heights and depths of a melodic progression inspired me to compose a symphonic hymn that praises the marvels of love — even in its devilish incarnation.
—Jörg Widmann, 2012


ABOUT THE MUSIC

Con brio (concert overture for orchestra) 

Widmann composed Con brio in 2008 on commission from the Bavarian Radio Symphony and conductor Mariss Jansons.  It was premiered as part of the orchestra’s season-opening concert in Munich on September 25, 2008.  The Cleveland Orchestra first presented this work in January 2011, under the direction of Christoph von Dohnányi.

This concert overture runs about 10 minutes in performance.  Widmann scored it for a classical orchestra of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings.

The following comments are excerpted from The Cleveland Orchestra’s program book of January 2011:

“CON BRIO is fast music, as fast as possible, with great rhythmic drive.   I try not to repeat myself.  When I finish a piece, I have to try something else!” says Jörg WIdmann.

The overture’s title comes from a common tempo marking — meaning “with brilliance / dash / vivacity” — used in Beethoven’s Seventh and Eighth symphonies.  Widmann explains that he hatched the idea for the piece when Mariss Jansons asked him to write a concert opener to a program of these two Beethoven symphonies.   Beethoven uses that marking in both pieces.  “Whenever I would hear ‘con brio’ I would always think of Beethoven,” the composer says.

Widmann uses an orchestra similar in size and instrumentation to Beethoven’s, but stresses that he does not quote from Beethoven.  Rather, he was inspired by Beethoven’s rhythmic drive.  The composer says he loves the “wild and big sound’’ that Beethoven got in the last movement of the Seventh and first movement of the Eighth — and was impressed that Beethoven could achieve such excitement with a relatively small number of winds.

“In Con brio, there are parts that are tricky to play, but they are possible,” Widmann says with a knowing laugh.  “The Cleveland Orchestra is so virtuosic it can play anything; I know, because I heard it play Chor in Cleveland.  I never heard this piece played that great.  In my life I will never forget how they did it.” 

Beethoven was capable of imagining exceedingly forward-thinking ideas, the composer observes.  “The way he uses accents and sforzando [a sudden, strong attack] makes the point that the bar line is not important for him:  he tries to eliminate the barline,” says Widmann.   Similarly, Widmann thwarts expectations in Con brio.   Overtures often end fortissimo — loud, all out.  Not in Con brio, where the rhythmic drive “just disappears into nothing.  The last chords are like a skeleton,” says the composer.  “It’s like the negative of a photograph; you have the negative images in the air after the music ends.’’

As is his habit, Widmann fine-tuned a few details after the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Mariss Jansons premiered this work in September 2008.  In Con brio, he occasionally asks the players to do things they’re not accustomed to doing — for example, the bassoons take off their reeds and blow directly into the curved metal tube (called the bocal) that leads into the wooden instrument.  He also has the flutes play with a whooshing, toneless sound.  He added specific directions to the players in the score regarding these special effects following the work’s premiere.


ABOUT THE MUSIC

Lied [“Song”] (for orchestra) 

Widmann wrote his Lied [Song]for orchestra as a commission from the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.  Its world premiere was presented on December 10, 2003, conducted by Jonathan Nott.  The composer later revised the score.  The revised version was first performed on April 23, 2010, in London, by the BBC Symphony Orch­estra, conducted by Lawrence Renes.  The Cleveland Orchestra performed this work for the first time in January 2013 under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst.

Lied runs nearly 30 minutes in performance.  Widmann scored it for 3 flutes (third doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 3 clarinets, 2 bassoons (second doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion (vibraphone, cymbals, tamtam, crotales), harp, accordion, and strings.

Lied [pronounced leed], or “Song,” for orchestra, was commissioned by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.  The following commentary was written for the world premiere performances in 2003:

of the origin of his commissioned work in homage to Franz Schubert, Jörg Widmann was very clear — Schubert’s melody should be at the heart of his work.  “Schubert is a melodic genius,” says Widmann.  Nothing in Schubert’s work has fascinated him more than the composer’s ability to invent and shape his melodies and carry them forward, melodies that are not simply beautiful but also have the capacity to captivate the listener with their great intensity.

Widmann’s original idea for the piece was to write a monodic orchestral work, which would treat the orchestra as a single singing agent in which “all the instruments sing a kind of eternal melody without cease.”  Widmann planned, in other words, an orchestral piece that would “present its lines naked and uncovered, unprotected and without a safety net, as if one were to perform a Schubert song without the accompaniment.”

This idea is embodied in Widmann’s Lied for orchestra, yet he drew away from his original idea when he decided to insert in the single-voice sections passages that vary from single lines to polyphonic [multiple] lines. This was achieved by juxtaposing harmonic and timbral levels, leading to passages in the work that regularly threaten to break apart when two layers are in apparently unreconcilable opposition.  In the foreground is the melodic line, often marked at “very very very loud” (triple forte), laden with expression; behind it is a harmonic background, sometimes so soft as to be almost inaudible, creating a sinister and pale counterpoint.

What thus found its way into Widmann’s composition was the typical character of Schubert’s musical language as “seeking,” or harmonic “wandering,” which then goes constantly astray and still must keep on going.  This happens when sounds are unresolved and lead in some other unexpected direction.  Of course, for Widmann this sense of being lost is actually what is specifically modern about Schubert.  He wanted to avoid direct references to particular Schubert works, but he also acknowledges that the String Quintet and the Octet influenced his work, if only in small details.  The result, Lied, is a work that draws on the special atmosphere and emotionality of Schubert’s music, sharing Schubert’s central compositional technique, yet at the same time is charged with Widmann’s own expressive personality.
— Torsten Blaich, 2003