The love affair between Lou Andreas-Salomé and Rainer Maria Rilke lasted for three decades: in 1897, the 36-year-old entered the life of the poet, who was more than ten years younger and was almost unknown at the time. The aristocratic general’s daughter, who had been born into a German-Russian family in St. Petersburg in 1861, recognised the future poet of the Duino Elegies in the hitherto aimless author – the influence of Lou Andreas-Salomé on Rilke can scarcely be overestimated. Their travels to Russia together at the beginning of the 20th century meant a return to home and childhood for her, while for Rilke they were a creative breakthrough.
In the letters, the memories of this time – the ringing of the Kremlin bells on the Easter Vigil, the blessing of an old Russian peasant woman, a horse on a sunny meadow – are evoked time and again. After four years of “living totally intertwined”, Lou Andreas-Salomé broke off the love affair and both vowed to write to each other only in the hour of need. For Rilke, this came as early as the summer of 1903; the doubts which tormented him about the publication of his Stundenbuch (Book of Hours) became the occasion for a first reunion.
The focus of this Philharmonic Salon is the two lovers’ Russian trips. Heikko Deutschmann reads texts by Lou Andreas-Salomé, Rainer Maria Rilke, Leo Tolstoy, Boris Pasternak, Schill, Alexander Benois and others. The musical framework is provided by Stefan Schweigert, Bassoonist of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the String Quartet of the Staatskapelle Berlin and Cordelia Höfer (piano).