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Harding meets Widmann x 2

The siblings, Carolin and Jörg Widmann, are frequently also colleagues – composer Jörg has written several pieces for his younger sister, award-winning violinist Carolin, and his Violin Concerto No. 2 is also dedicated to her. Benjamin Britten dedicated his song cycle, Nocturne, to Alma Mahler with whom he corresponded for many years. The lyrics are taken from all the great writers and Alma was very fond of the piece. Schoenberg’s suggestive and innovative Verklärte Nacht was written to the composer’s beloved, who subsequently became his wife.

As a composer, it is not a bad idea to have a skilled musician in the family. As a sixteen-year-old clarinettist, Jörg Widmann started writing down the improvisations he played in order to remember them. Since then, he has dedicated his time, alongside his career as a clarinettist and conductor, to exploring non-traditional approaches to music and instruments, preferably with his younger sister, the violinist Carolin Widmann, as his partner. “It is wonderful having Carolin there to conduct the wildest experiments. I wrote my Études for violin for her”, he said in an interview.

The Widmann siblings were born into an family of amateur musicians in Munich and they both have an impressive CV with numerous awards and commissions around the globe. Jörg Widmann’s newly written Violin Concerto No. 2, which premières in Tokyo in August 2018, is also dedicated to his sister. Daniel Harding will conduct two performances of the work in Paris before doing the same with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra at Berwaldhallen.

Benjamin Britten wrote his song cycle Nocturne for Alma Mahler. The two met in New York in 1942 and began a correspondence. In 1958, when Britten asked her permission to dedicate his new piece to Mahler, the answer arrived by telegram and said: “My happiness is enormous.. I cannot feel or think of anything else. My deepest thanks!” Nocturne, which is written for a solo tenor voice, flute, cor anglais, clarinet, bassoon, harp, French horn and timpani, as well as strings, musically presents eight poems by Shelley, Tennyson, Coleridge, Middleton, Wordsworth, Owen, Keats and Shakespeare. In each part of the through-composed piece, a solo instrument emerges beside the solo vocalist.

Over three weeks in September 1899, Arnold Schoenberg composed the string sextet, Verklärte Nacht, inspired by his infatuation with Mathilde Zemlinsky, the sister of his friend and teacher Alexander von Zemlinsky, whom Schoenberg later married. The work is based on the German writer Richard Dehmel’s poem of the same name, a poem that describes a couple walking through a dark forest in the moonlight. During the walk, the woman tells the man that she is carrying another man’s child. The work is Schoenberg’s first attempt at atonality, a style that diverges completely from the traditional major and minor keys. He later devised the twelve-tone technique.

Andrew Staples, one of Britain’s most versatile tenors, with everything from Handel and Mozart to Britten and Elgar in his repertoire, is a frequent partner to Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Staples is also a director and a portrait photographer.

Text: Anna Hedelius


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The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra serves as a symphony orchestra for the whole of Sweden. Regardless of where you live you can listen to the orchestra’s concerts through the Swedish Radio’s broadcasts or on their website, and several concerts are also shown on Swedish Television. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is one of the best and most versatile orchestras in Europe – perhaps even in the world. Every year they perform well-loved works from the classical repertoire as well as new music by exciting contemporary composers such as Victoria Borisova-Ollas, Magnus Lindberg and Unsuk Chin. In addition they perform music from popular films and computer and video games and collaborate with leading jazz, pop and rock artists in a constant endeavour to develop and to break new ground.