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Pierrot lunaire – the cycle that changed the music of the 20th century

SatColl L10 op21 autographe Erstniederschrift 13
SatColl L10 op21 autographe Erstniederschrift 13

A cycle that changed not only the vocal music of the 20th century – this is how the work Pierrot lunaire by the Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg could be described. It was on the 16th of October 1912 that its premiere took place in Berlin under the composer’s direction – it was a scandal and a success at the same time. It ensured Schönberg’s gradual breakthrough into European musical awareness and interest in his, until then more or less overlooked or unaccepted, work. The Lieder Company has decided to perform this fundamental work, which stands at the crossroads between the genres of song and melodrama, on the exact 110th anniversary of its premiere – Sunday the 16th of October 2022. The solo part will be performed by soprano Irena Troupová, a renowned interpreter of 20th century music.

The programme is complemented by the impressive cycle Sechs lieder, Op. 22 by Alexander Zemlinsky, also an Austrian composer, but a close friend and promoter of Schönberg’s work (he premiered, for example, the monodrama Erwartung in Prague). This year also marks the 80th anniversary of his death (1942). The cycle from 1934 will be performed in a new arrangement by composer Jan Dušek for chamber ensemble identical to that of Pierrot lunaire, which further emphasises the colourfulness and certain similarity of the two cycles.

The Lieder Company, however, decided to give space in this programme to the young composer and baritone Vojtěch Šembera, who was commissioned to compose a meditative piece In einem leeren Raum on the text by Wolfgang Spitzbardt. However, he slightly updated the Pierrot-like scoring, using the less usual bass flute and replacing the piano with a synthesizer. The composer also interprets the solo part in a world premiere performance.

In addition to the aforementioned soprano Irena Troupová and baritone Vojtěch Šembera, the performers will also include leading Czech instrumentalists and specialists in 20th century music: flutist Daniel Havel, clarinetist Jan Mach, violinist and violist David Danel, cellist Balázs Adorján and pianist Jan Dušek. The performance is directed by conductor Petr Louženský.

All pieces will be performed in the original German and accompanied by Czech subtitles.

In the intoxicating glow of the moon

Grand Hall of Novoměstská radnice, Karlovo nám. 1/23, Praha 2

Sunday, the 16th of October at 19.30