Programme Guide

When the Berliner Philharmoniker combined Schumann symphonies with works by Bernd Alois Zimmermann on several concert programmes during the 2008/2009 season, it was logical that they invite Heinz Holliger. The Swiss composer, oboist and conductor has devoted himself intensively to Schumann’s music since his youth, which has also strongly influenced his own works. Holliger also has a close affinity with Zimmermann.

The programme was structured symmetrically, with a symphonic work and a composition for violin and orchestra by both Schumann and Zimmermann. Schumann’s Violin Fantasy was composed at the same time as his concerto for the same instrument, and after its premiere with Joseph Joachim it enjoyed a certain degree of popularity before disappearing almost entirely from the classical repertoire. One of the composer’s most popular works, on the other hand, is the Spring Symphony from 1841, which, with its opening motto, innovative formal development and the integration of songlike elements, represents a new type of symphony after Beethoven.

Like Schumann, Zimmermann also avoided historical and stylistic categories to a great extent. In his works one finds the influence of popular culture and quotations from music history as well as experiments with dodecaphony emulating Arnold Schoenberg. His work Alagoana, which was initially composed as ballet music, is characterized by a complex time structure and unusual scoring, with instruments such as vibraphone, guitar, celesta, harpsichord and saxophone quartet. The soloist for the concert was violinist Thomas Zehetmair, who made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1985 and is known for both his unconventional interpretations of familiar repertoire and his strong commitment to rarely performed works.

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