This year we grapple with one of classical music’s most well-worn tropes, that lofty period in European art whose music still occupies the dominant share of concert repertoires even today. ‘Romanticism’, with all its derivations and in the broadest sense of the word, is this year’s theme and it will be earnestly explored both in musicological settings and in various meanings and associations that spread across our daily lives, resulting in what we hope to be an intriguing, multifaceted and at the same time communicative festival program.
The Romantic zeitgeist marks the end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th, a time when art revolved around the cult of the (genius) artist on the one hand and the nostalgic, mystical appraisal of distant histories, places and natures of being on the other. In music it refers to 19th century composers such as Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Dvořák. Nowadays the notion of ‘romantics’ is used in a wide variety of contexts. While ‘Romanticism’ in many languages designates a specific musical and artistic period or style, ‘romantic’ can refer to either music, a landscape, love, or even a hairstyle or fashion trend. This means that the word, together with its semantic charge, has become much less focused in our time and refers to the zeitgeist and stylistic characteristics of works of art, while at the same time it has also found itself completely worn out from everyday usage.
In any case, what most people imagine under this rubric is usually something quite powerful, personal or at least very attractive in its effect, something that liberates one from reality and the ordinariness of daily life, inspiring reveries of a more beautiful world in which one can show their most vulnerable attitudes and feel accepted. Whether that means dreaming about life back in the good old days, or about some distant land, immersing oneself in Tchaikovsky's music, or getting a tattoo with bold statements of love, everyone must judge for themselves.
Such considerations guided us when we started to plan this year's festival. The programme includes great works from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including pieces by Beethoven and Wagner and Slovenia’s own Anton Lajovic, all the way to the last echoes of this way of musical thinking found in the music of Arnold Schönberg and the extremely expressive works of his early period. These will be coupled with great musical and musicianly love stories such as Romeo and Juliet and that between Richard and Cosima Wagner. We also touch upon the characteristic Romantic cult of the controversial, genius individualist – not only Beethoven and Wagner, but also the famous detective novel hero Sherlock Holmes, himself a passionate lover of and expert in classical music. Even romance, as it is popularly understood today, will not be ignored, however we will endeavour to keep a safe distance from cheap associations. It is this romantic love and the dream of escaping daily life that can be found in the music of the unique Astor Piazzolla, one of the few artists whose simple ideas of romance and passion are wedded to a convincing artistic achievement. His music will be performed by the remarkable Viennese ensemble Amarcord.
So be bold and join us on a journey of discovery as we explore romance and expressionism, dreams and revolutions among the endless depths of music!