Season focus “Lost Generation”
They were highly gifted, innovative, keen to experiment, and possessed the best prerequisites for brilliant careers as composers. But because of their Jewish origins, they were vilified by the National Socialists as “degenerate” artists. This was followed by a performance ban and no longer being allowed to practice their profession, by exile or, even worse, death in a concentration camp. As part of the season’s Lost Generation focus, the Philharmonic Chamber Music series is dedicated to these musicians with ensembles and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, who also moderate the programme. The compositions of the “Lost Generation” are combined with works from the core chamber music repertoire.
The Scharoun Ensemble presents three composers for whom the city of Vienna was an important station in their careers: Ludwig van Beethoven, whose charming Septet will be performed, Schoenberg’s student Egon Wellesz, and Franz Schreker, who was one of the most frequently performed composers of his time before the National Socialists came to power. Ernst Toch and Hanns Eisler, whose works are programmed for the second concert in this series, left Germany in 1933 and went into exile in America, while the Czech Pavel Haas, a pupil of Leoš Janáček, was deported to Theresienstadt and helped shape the musical life of the concentration camp for some time before being killed in Auschwitz. The two Austrians Viktor Ullmann and Erwin Schulhoff suffered similarly harsh fates. The Philharmoniker’s string players Simon Roturier, Angelo de Leo, Micha Afkham and Bruno Delepelaire juxtapose their string quartets with Franz Schubert’s string quartet “Death and the Maiden”.
Together with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, violinist Antje Weithaas commemorates Gideon Klein, who like Pavel Haas was interned in Theresienstadt. The concert also features chamber music works by Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky and Béla Bartók, as well as the Violin Concerto in D minor which Felix Mendelssohn wrote when he was 13 years old. To conclude the series, Anna Vinnitskaya and the Brahms Ensemble Berlin perform piano quintets by Johannes Brahms and Mieczysław Weinberg, a Jewish composer who after the German invasion of Poland in 1939 fled to the Soviet Union, where Dmitri Shostakovich became his friend and mentor.