During the 19th century, night carried special power for artists. According to the beliefs of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and his followers (which included most composers of the 19th century), it is only in the refuge of the darkness of night that a higher truth can come to life, one which, finally free of the struggle and deception of the everyday world, knows only sincere emotion. Viewed from this angle, it is not surprising then that many love stories, especially those about forbidden love, take place only in night-time’s safe embrace. Night not only promises and brings refuge but it allows and understands everything, even the darkest shades of human existence, and follows fairer rules than those dictated by society. Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde knew this and before that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, who could show their love only at night and wished that it would last forever — that the nightingale, singer of the night, would never be supplanted by the lark announcing the encroaching dawn.
This was a time when nights were not illuminated by lavish neon lights or by the glowing screens of the innumerable devices that today ensure we never really immerse ourselves into our innermost selves and completely abandon ourselves to flights of imagination. It is precisely during such moments of forgetting that art can waken, allowing the most convincing music to materialise in the head of the genius composer.
Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky was undoubtedly such a master, a composer who knew how to play on the finest strings of a wide circle of listeners with his music — as his exceptional popularity even today still proves. His younger countryman Sergei Prokofiev, on the other hand, regarded as a representative of the next generation, equated excessive emotion in art with cheapness and thus kept it at a sarcasm-filled distance. In reality, however, Prokofiev was also a child of the old Russian school of composers and somewhere deep inside remained an irreparable romantic. The timeless love story of Romeo and Juliet touched both composers so intensely that each of them devoted pieces to it, works which are extremely moving yet very different from each other.
The 2017 Maribor Festival will thus conclude engrossed in broad-minded romanticism, offering a powerful sound, great stories and music that overwhelms the heart. We again join forces with the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor and its Symphony Orchestra, this time also joined by the Opera Choir. We are also proud to introduce the soloist Alexander Gadjiev, a brilliant young Slovenian-Russian pianist.