Programme Guide

“You may not know,” Claude Debussy wrote to a friend, “that I was destined for the wonderful career of a sailor and that only the vicissitudes of life kept me from it. Nevertheless, I have retained a true passion for the sea.” This passion found expression in a richly coloured composition entitled La Mer, the three parts of which are presented here by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Harding. Sebastian Krunnies, violist of the orchestra and presenter of the concert, also introduces three special instruments – including the cor anglais. Why its name has nothing to do with England, but much more with France, you will find out in the concert.

The titles Debussy gave the three parts of La Mer sound poetic: From dawn to noon on the sea, Play of the waves and Dialogue of the wind and the sea. But if you thought that Debussy tried with all means at his disposal to create musical images of reality, you would be mistaken. What gives his music its magic is that it reproduces above all the moods that these scenes created in Debussy – in this case even from a distance. He actually began composing La Mer not on the shores of the Atlantic, but in the heart of France. Sensing a friend’s objection, he commented: “Now, you will say that the vineyards of Burgundy are not exactly surrounded by the ocean! But I have countless memories; in my opinion, that is better than reality, whose charm generally weighs too heavily on the mind.”

And it is not only Debussy’s music that is full of poetic imagination – the poems performed here, written by the three young winners of the “More sea” writing competition, are also very personal and poignant explorations of the sea.

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