Hall: Concert Hall
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The warm and charming Siegfried Idyll was written as a musical gift to Wagner’s wife, Cosima Liszt, after the birth of their son Siegfried in 1869. Originally a private piece of music for a rich chamber ensemble, several years later the Idyll was published in an orchestral version and won considerable acclaim. Wagner used some of its motifs in Brünnhilde’s part in his musical drama Siegfried (1876).
Born into a Jewish family in Warsaw, it was also in Warsaw that Mieczysław Weinberg studied with Józef Turczyński and began his career. Having fled the Germans, he settled in the Soviet Union, which became his second homeland and where he won great recognition (supported by his friend Shostakovich, who highly appreciated his talent). Weinberg fell into disfavour under Stalin, was accused of writing pessimistic bourgeois music overly saturated with Jewish motifs. For a long time only very few of his works were performed outside Russia. This has changed in recent years, and Warsaw Philharmonic has made especially important contributions to the revival of this composer, who never forgot his Warsaw roots. His brilliant Concerto for Trumpet (1968), full of grotesque humour, is one of his most interesting compositions.
The daring social portrayals and advanced composition techniques of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by the 28-year‑ old Dmitri Shostakovich were greeted with much interest by the audience, but Stalin was scandalised by the obscene topics and demanding, highly dissonant music. The docile critics began to attack the opera and its composer, and the work was no longer performed until the Soviet political thaw (1962). Shostakovich revised the opera and gave it a new title: Katerina Ismailova. He toned down the most controversial scenes and exchanged some of the intermezzi (entr’actes). During today’s concert, we will hear them in this late revised version.