Successful cooperation with the Federal Jazz Orchestra and the Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig

On Sunday, November 17, 2019, the Youth Jazz Orchestra of the Federal Republic of Germany, together with Israeli musicians and a multimedia concert program, performed at the Kunstwerk in honor of the 100th Bauhaus anniversary. A big band mixed with members of the Federal Jazz Orchestra (BuJazzO) and students of the Center for Jazz Studies at the Israel Conservatory of Mus presents with vocal ensemble the silent film program “Klingende Utopien – 100 Jahre Bauhaus”.

The focus is on five films by the Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy. In terms of content and film aesthetics, it goes from early experimental film to architectural film to social documentation. The composition “White City” by Oliver Schneller focuses on the themes of “architecture” and “migration”, as projected images of the “White City” in Tel Aviv enter into dialogue with musical compositions.

30 years of Peaceful Revolution: the sound of freedom in the work of Ludwig van Beethoven, Friedrich Schiller and Kurt Masur

From 8 to 13 October 2019, the International Kurt Masur Institute took part in the anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution via the project: “30 years of Peaceful Revolution: the sound of freedom in the work of Ludwig van Beethoven, Friedrich Schiller and Kurt Masur”. A wide audience was inspired though numerous events, an exhibition and a concert for schoolchildren.

Events

Wednesday, 9 October 2019, 8 p.m. – Peterskirche Leipzig

Concert in cooperation with Philharmonie Leipzig:

Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125

Conductor: Michael Köhler

Choirs: Leipziger Lehrerchor, Philharmonischer Chor Leipzig, Oratorien Chor Leipzig

Soloists: Christiane Libor, Carolin Masur, André Khamasmie, Stephan Klemm

Invited speakers: Frank Richter und Gregor Gysi

The Philharmonie Leipzig organised this concert on 9 October to commemorate the events of the Peaceful Revolution and the major demonstration in Leipzig. Kurt Masur never tired of repeating the core message: “One must believe in the power of music and must learn to feel it. This power is capable of inspiring and encouraging the good in humanity.” It is unsurprising, therefore, that in autumn 2018 the Kurt Masur Institute decided to lend its support to this concert.

The constant efforts and necessary struggle for change towards a better world connects those who participated in the Peaceful Revolution with Beethoven’s and Schiller’s core message: that “all men become brothers”. It is not surprising that this monumental work was performed on 9 October 2019 in the Leipzig Peterskirche in commoration of “30 years of the Peaceful Revolution”, nor does it surprise that this work was of key importance to both Beethoven and Kurt Masur.

Excerpt from the Leipziger Volkszeitung, 10 October 2019

The civil rights campaigner Frank Richter, a former independent now sitting as an SPD member in the Saxon Parliament, was named by the Philharmonie as a counterpart to the controversial nomination of Gregor Gysi. A good decision, as Richter considered, in his calm way, this already strongly debated issue. “Victims of repression in the GDR cannot automatically claim the right to interpret historical actions in their own way,” Richter said. The loudest applause was reserved for the Philharmonic orchestra and choir and their performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the “Ode to Joy”. Schiller’s classic “All men become brothers” could be seen as a commentary on the evening.

Thursday, 10 October 2019, 7 p.m. – Gewandhaus Leipzig, Mendelssohn-Saal

2nd Kurt Masur Forum: Memories of 9 October 1989

Members of the “Leipzig Six” (a group of six personalities who played an important role ensuring that the demonstrations took place without violence): Bernd-Lutz Lange, Roland Wötzel and Kurt Meyer. Historians: Thomas Ahbe and Sascha Lange.

Accompanying musical programme: Frank Nowicky and the Orchester der Sächsischen Musiker

U Under the title of the “Kurt Masur Forum”, the Masur Institute regularly encourages discourse on humanity and society. This second edition focused on the anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution. We especially remembered the call to renounce violence of 9 October 1989, where the Leipzig Six, led by Kurt Masur, appealed for a peaceful exchange of views and nonaggression. Members of the Leipzig Six were in the spotlight, together with the historians Thomas Ahbe and Sascha Lange, and were providing further details about the group’s actions, the historical context and its legacy up to the present day.

The discussion was complemented by a chamber music version of Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel, in homage to the Gewandhaus concert conducted by Masur during the demonstrations. Furthermore, the saxophonist Franck Nowicky also gave a performance, representing Masur’s support for street musicians during the summer of 1989.

Excerpt from the Leipziger Volkszeitung, 12 October 2019

The event returns to June ’89, when the Leipzig street music festival was forcibly disbanded by the ‘security forces’. As a result, Masur invited the public to a conference at the Gewandhaus, which he, later, called a general rehearsal of upright acting. Afterwards the “Orchester der Sächsischen Musiker” remembers the fact, that Masur – in that night, 30 years ago – Masur conducted Richard Strauss’s “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks”. So the event concludes with the impression that this needs to be continued. At the bookstand quite a huge amount of books are signed.

Friday, 11 October 2019, 11 a.m. – Kurt-Masur-Schule

Lee Trio – Piano: Melinda Lee Masur – Cello: Angela Lee – Violin: Lisa Lee

Presented by: Tomoko and Ken-David Masur

In On 11 October 2019, pupils of the Kurt-Masur-Schule had the opportunity to encounter the works of both Kurt Masur and Beethoven in a creative way. The beginning of the final movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne! Sondern lasst uns angenehmere anstimmen.” (“O friends, not these sounds! Rather let us turn to sounds more pleasant and more joyful.”) remains the motto then as now. Masur’s question “What can we do?” was his guiding principle, and not just in connection with the Peaceful Revolution in 1989. The idea was to impart this brave attitude to the children through music in a playful manner.

Saturday, 12 October 2019, 7:30 p.m. – Kurt-Masur-Saal of the J. S. -Bach-Musikschule

Reflections on Beethoven – Chamber concert with the Lee Trio

Music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Antonín Dvořák, Richard Pantcheff and Nathaniel Stookey

The chamber concert in the Kurt-Masur-Saal of the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Musikschule combined Beethoven’s compositions with contemporary works in an unorthodox manner. This included a premiere by Richard Pantcheff, a composer who, in a playful way, blurs the limitations between genres and also composes choir, organ, chamber and instrumental music.

A Also related to Leipzig is Nathaniel Stookey’s “Above the Thomas Gate” (2001). Born in 1970 in San Francisco, he is one of the most prolific young American composers. Reflecting on one of Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbündlertänze” Stookey refers to a letter that Robert wrote to his wife Clara, in which he develops the romantic idea of their thoughts meeting above the Thomas Gate (Thomaspförtlein), a gate in Leipzig’s old city walls. The Lee Trio have already played this prime example of a poetic 21st-century piano trio frequently, among them in Leipzig in 2005.

A contrast to Beethoven is provided by Antonín Dvořák’s “Dumky Trio” Op. 90. In six movements, with a undefined main key and the recourse on “dumky”, elegiac ballads, the “Bohemian minstrel” finds his own musical language unrestricted by sonata form. The work was completed before Dvořák’s sojourn in New York, where he had a significant influence on the development of music there as director of the National Conservatory of Music. The San Francisco-based Lee Trio, founded in 2002, pays homage to this Czech forefather of American classical music.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019 to Monday, 6 January 2020 – Mendelssohn-Haus Leipzig

Special exhibition on the Peaceful Revolution “We all need a liberal exchange of views” – memories of autumn 1989

The International Kurt Masur Institute commemorates the developments leading to the Peaceful Revolution in the city of Leipzig with a special exhibition. Already in the summer of 1989, Kurt Masur opened up social dialogues and debates through the “Encounters in the Gewandhaus” events. As a centrepiece, a table owned by the Masur family is on public display for the first time. It was around this table that the Leipzig Six wrote down their call to renounce violence. In addition, original recordings of Masur reading out the manifesto of the Leipzig Six, as well as written documents and additional sound and video clips, make for an authentic auditory experience.

Kurt-Masur-Exhibition

To share Kurt Masur’s vision the International Kurt-Masur-Institute was established in 2016 in association with the International Felix-Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Foundation. The Institute is a dedicated place to celebrate the life of this Leipzig honorary citizen as well as keeping his legacy alive for future generations.

A dedicated audio video station plus a selection of original documents and objects complement the presentation. On display are personal and private memorabilia as well as awards, representing the recognition Kurt Masur received for his artistic achievements as well as for his international humanist commitments.

Anne-Sophie Mutter to attend the official opening of the International Kurt Masur Institute in Leipzig November 2017

The home of the foundation known as the International Kurt Masur Institute (IKMI) is to be officially opened at the Mendelssohn House in Leipzig with a major gala weekend from 3 to 5 November 2017. A wide-ranging programme of events has been organised. Prominent friends, colleagues, interpreters and scholars of Kurt Masur, all of international standing, will be sharing their views on the subject of Beethoven. Among those expected to attend are the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, the conductor Ken-David Masur, Dr. Michael Ladenburger (from the Beethoven House in Bonn) and musicologist Prof. Peter Gülke. Also on the timetable will be recitals by musicians from the Mendelssohn Orchestra Academy at the Gewandhaus, the Kurt Masur Orchestra Academy attached to the Dresden Philharmonic, and scholarship winners from the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation. The gala weekend will also feature readings of letters from the Masur estate, and an educational programme with pupils from the Kurt Masur School in Leipzig. The announcement was made on 5 April 2017 by Tomoko Masur (President of the IKMI) and Anna-Barbara Schmidt (Managing Director of the IKMI) at the public event announcing the opening of the Institute at the Mendelssohn House in Leipzig.

Before it has even officially opened, on 21 September 2017, the IKMI will be staging a benefit concert in aid of Parkinson’s research in collaboration with Leipzig University Hospital. The concert at the Leipzig Gewandhaus will feature a composition by Sebastian Pilgrim for which he was awarded the Kurt Masur Prize at the 2017 German Music Competition; this piece will also be performed in November during the gala weekend.

A meeting place and centre for cultural education is to be created at the Mendelssohn House in Leipzig, the last home of the composer, where visitors can experience a taste of the 19th century thanks to the considerable support given by Kurt Masur. In line with Masur’s humanist, musical and social outlook and disposition, the aim of the International Kurt Masur Institute is to promote dialogue through music on a national and international level. “You have to believe in the power of music and learn to perceive it. It has the capacity to kindle and strengthen our better selves,” according to the maestro. The IKMI is to receive financial support from the Department of Culture of the City of Leipzig. Christian Kern and accolade pr from Leipzig are responsible for the corporate design and layout of its website.

In keeping with the slogan of the International Kurt Masur Institute, ‘Music – Encounter – Inspiration’, the board of trustees under its President and benefactor Tomoko Masur and Managing Director Anna-Barbara Schmidt has developed an ambitious programme for the Foundation. There are plans for seminars and masterclasses for young musicians under the title of the Kurt Masur Academy and Kurt Masur Lectures, where socially relevant themes will be addressed by inspirational figures from a number of countries. The public discussion at St. Peter’s Church in Leipzig between Kurt Masur, Helmut Schmidt and Peter Maffay in October 2014, which marked the 25th anniversary of the peaceful revolution, counts as the first in this series. In addition, the IKMI will be hosting an academic discourse, the Kurt Masur Symposium, at regular intervals.

Another important pillar of the Foundation’s work will be the development of the Kurt Masur Archive, which is to be opened to the public one stage at a time within the Mendelssohn House. This will serve as a point of departure for cultural and social studies and for musicological research and study. The conductor’s private archive holds more than 2,000 letters, countless audio and film recordings, as well as more than seventy years’ worth of press articles and programmes. There are also wide-ranging collections of photographs, sheet music/scores, posters and works of art, as well as an extensive music library.

The first step towards public use of the archive was taken on 4 April 2017. The Leipzig Saxonia Lions Club provided more than Euro 2,000 in sponsorship for the reprinting of the score of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with handwritten annotations by the maestro, which formed part of his estate. Kurt Masur described the composition as his confessional work, and conducted it in 1990 for the first time at the famous Promenade Concerts in London’s Royal Albert Hall. The Requiem premiered at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 12 October 1991 at the close of the Gewandhaus Festival, and was performed in 1992, also at the end of the season, in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, as well as on Memorial Day the same year in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. CD recordings of the work were released with the New York Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In future, the score will be available for inspection by anyone who is interested, and in particular by young conductors and musicians, alongside the recordings and a wealth of press and programme documentation.

“Since my husband, who was so venerated and beloved, passed away, I have met many people from all over the world who tell me their very personal impressions and stories about the Kurt Masur they knew. Whether they are famous or not; whether they are musicians, politicians, businessmen or women or simply just ordinary members of the public, they all tell me with great passion and warmth about their encounters with my husband. It is quite overwhelming. And it is proof that Kurt lives on as a vibrant spirit in the hearts of many people”, says Tomoko Masur.

Tomoko Masur, the widow of the former Kapellmeister of the Gewandhaus, Burkhard Jung, the Mayor of the City of Leipzig, and Jürgen Ernst, the Managing Director of the Mendelssohn House, were the driving forces behind the establishment of the International Kurt Masur Institute, a legally non-independent non-profit foundation. Established on 25 March 2016, the Foundation receives financial support from the legally independent Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Foundation. Tomoko Masur is joined on the board of trustees by Anna Dutkiewicz (Wrocław, Poland), Dr. Skadi Jennicke (Leipzig’s Deputy Mayor for Culture), Annette Körner (member of Leipzig City Council and chair of the Cultural Committee), Ken-David Masur (Assistant Conductor of Boston Symphony Orchestra), and Ilona Schmiel (Director of the Tonhalle Society in Zurich).

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Kurt Masur sponsorship prize awarded in Leipzig for the first time

The Kurt Masur sponsorship prize of the International Kurt Masur Institute was awarded for the first time on Friday, 10 March 2017 as part of the German Music Competition in Leipzig. The work of the prize-winner Sebastian Pilgrim will be performed again on 21 September 2017 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
“Music must address people directly. Sebastian Pilgrim’s setting of the four Schwitters poems touches on two essential aspects of our lives: humour and humanity. In the wonderful interpretation by Ensemble BRuCH, compositional proficiency is brought together with both musical and literary esprit in a skilful and enjoyable union.”

The Kurt Masur sponsorship prize of the International Kurt Masur Institute will be presented for the first time on Saturday, 11 March 2017 at Leipzig Gewandhaus as part of the German Music Competition. The prize for the ‘Composition’ category will be presented by the Foundation’s President, Tomoko Masur, and comes with Euro 1,000 in prize money as well as several opportunities for the prize-winning work to be performed. In addition, a benefit concert will be held on Sunday, 12 March 2017 under the baton of Michael Sanderling for the Kurt Masur Academy, the orchestra academy of the Dresden Philharmonic. This concert will be dedicated to the memory of Kurt Masur. The patron of the Kurt Masur Orchestra Academy, which was opened in the conductor’s lifetime, is fellow founder Tomoko Masur.

The Orchestre National de France is honouring its former principal conductor on 9 February 2017 with an ‘Homage to Kurt Masur‘. The soloist is Anne-Sophie Mutter, and the orchestra will be conducted by his son, Ken-David Masur. On the first anniversary of Kurt Masur’s death, on 19 December 2016, the city of Wrocław also paid tribute to its honorary citizen with a commemoration ceremony and the unveiling of a plaque in its main church, dedicated to St. Elisabeth. Prior to this, on 20 November 2016, a gala concert was held in memory of Kurt Masur in Ueno, Japan.