Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21
Dmitrij Šostakovič: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 107
Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 88 in G major, Hob. I:88
What could be more typically Romantic than an idyllic landscape dotted with little country houses and dominated by a luxurious palace spreading across the horizon? Just such a landscape can be seen today from the road as one drives past Eisenstadt in Austrian Burgenland, where the mighty residence of the once extremely wealthy Esterhazy noble family stands and where Joseph Haydn once served, and which today is the home of the Haydn Philharmonie.
Haydn’s long life was marked by the birth of the Romantic period and even the course taken by Haydn’s life itself serves as an example of how radically the role of artists in society changed during that time. From Haydn’s youth until the end of the 18th century, composers were primarily considered as servants, no more than a chaplain in charge of organising musical events for his employer. Then modern free spirits such as Mozart and Beethoven came along. Even Haydn himself later gave in to the ‘freelance’ life upon the death of his employer, eventually building an international reputation and becoming a true living legend among composers in a way that was unheard of in former times. The dawning new age that followed Haydn ignited the cult of the genius artist that is probably best represented by Beethoven, a type of adoration which persists even today.
The cult of Beethoven was still quite pervasive during the lifetime of Dmitri Shostakovich, one of the last great composers to reach their artistic maturity upon the crumbling foundations of Romanticism and who was, at the same time, one of the most enigmatic of Russian composers, an artist inside of whom raged a struggle between a burning enthusiasm for innovation and rigid self-control imposed from the outside, and between passion and a vulnerable humanity—all of which the composer cunningly hid from the superficial gaze of observers.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and comprised of excellent musicians, the Haydn Philharmonie has been led since the 2015/2016 season by cellist Nicolas Altstaedt. Under Altstaedt’s leadership the orchestra is more youthful and full of enthusiasm than ever and will undoubtedly ensure another memorable opening to the Maribor Festival.