In the past, “Japanese, French, German, English and American culture” have inspired Peter Eötvös, born in Hungary in 1944, to musical works, as he has stated. In recent years, the compositional cosmopolitan has placed more focus on yet another cultural sphere: the music traditions of the Basque Country and of Spain. Eötvösʼs third violin concerto was commissioned by the International Dance and Music Festival in Granada, the Berlin Philharmonic Foundation, the BBC Proms and the Orchestre de Paris. It is inspired by the architecture and history of the Alhambra – as Eötvös writes, the “intersection of Spanish and Arabic culture”.
Violinist Isabelle Faust, soloist at the premiere in Granada in July 2019 and, in addition to conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, one of the work’s dedicatees, has been acclaimed around the world for the past quarter of a century. At this concert, she will present the German premiere of Eötvös’s third violin concerto Alhambra in Berlin, conducted by the composer.
The second half of the concert is no less international: in 1983 the Greek composer Iannis Xenakis composed the string piece Shaar based on Old Testament ideas as a commission for an Israeli festival of contemporary music. In contrast, Amériques for large orchestra was the first composition that Edgard Varèse, born in Paris in 1883, wrote in the US after emigrating there in 1915. The work was premiered in 1926 by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. According to Varèse, the composition depicts journeys of discovery to “new worlds on earth, in the sky, or in the minds of men”.