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Guest performance in Ottobeuren

Basilica OttobeurenOttobeuren, Bavaria, D 87724, Germany
Dates/times in Berlin time zone
Sunday 23 July 202315:00
Bamberg Symphony
Jakub HrůšaConductor
Gerhild RombergerContralto

Late romantic confessions! Dvořák was keen to breathe fresh life into Catholic church music in his native Bohemia. For him, religiousness was a necessary prerequisite for his creative work, and he said: "Don't be surprised that I am so devout – an artist who is not devout will not achieve such things". As he grew older, the setting of liturgical texts became increasingly important for him – possibly as a way of expressing his thoughts about the end of life. He wrote his "Biblical Songs” in 1894, while living in New York. Shortly beforehand, news had reached him of the deaths of his contemporaries Tchaikovsky and Gounod, as well as the news from home that his father had passed away. These ten songs, which set texts from the Book of Psalms, range in expression from laments and prayers of intercession, fear and confidence to the praise of God and trust in his help – moving pieces written in a state of grief far from his beloved Bohemia. The concert will close with the musical volcanic eruptions and unforgettably catchy melodies of the popular D minor Symphony by César Franck, whom a contemporary once jokingly called a "modulation machine”. Like Dvořák, the Belgian-born composer was a strict Catholic. For many years he worked as an organist in Paris, developing a creativity all of his own as a composer – as attested by this symphony, which was first performed in 1889. The music portrays numerous struggles, but ends in inner triumph. Its final bars are solemn, majestic, proud – after all, it was said of Franck that “he knows himself to be one with God and trusts in the mission He has given him on earth.”

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