For its guest appearance in Berlin the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin performs Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Sinfonie in einem Satz, which has not been performed in this version (with organ) for 65 years, even though the composer was entirely satisfied with it at its world premiere. Nevertheless he subsequently revised it, cutting here and there, putting in some new instrumentation and removing the organ. However, this gives the original version not only a distinctive sound colour but also a particular spatial effect. To commemorate Zimmermann’s 100th birthday Musikfest Berlin will revive this first, experimental form of the work. For the composer it was an experiment of fundamental importance, the uncertain answer to the question of whether the development of a basic form was compatible with symphonic thinking.
For Zimmermann, the way that Anton Bruckner began his symphonies – creating a theme, a musical thought out of its elementary components – became the guiding principle of his entire musical process. The symphony went from being a discursive medium to a form of metamorphosis directed towards an objective without knowing in advance where this is to be found or what it looks like. Bruckner, the master some of whose symphonies underwent multiple revisions served as a reference guide for large-scale composition in pursuit of an objective, even if his own musical methods were very different. The symphony has not only a formal history but also a conceptual one.