Hamburg International Music Festival

Programme highlights to close the season: in this edition of the five-week festival, the great Hamburg orchestras and star guests explore the theme of »love«.

After exploring themes such as utopia, faith, hope and nature in previous editions, the 2023 Hamburg International Music Festival is all about love. Guests will include stars such as Cecilia Bartoli, Barbara Hannigan and Yuja Wang, Jonas Kaufmann, Lang Lang, Maurizio Pollini and Krystian Zimerman. Sir John Eliot Gardiner is celebrating his 80th birthday with a Brahms cycle, while the Vienna Philharmonic will be performing under the acclaimed conductor Jakub Hrůša. The Music Festival has also traditionally provided a platform for special productions – from Gershwin’s »Porgy & Bess« and a slightly different version of Schubert’s »Die schöne Müllerin« to a music-theatre manifesto by the Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov. The festival will have a special focus on Alfred Schnittke, another important composer with Hamburg connections. There is also plenty to explore beyond the boundaries of classical music, including a little spotlight of the contemporary French chanson scene.

Without the energy of the Hamburg orchestras, the Music Festival would not be the amazing season highlight it always manages to be. First and foremost among them the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, which is performing Esa-Pekka Salonen’s new Organ Concerto with the composer himself. Kent Nagano and the Philharmonic State Orchestra are bringing Jörg Widmann’s oratorio »ARCHE« back to the Elbphilharmonie, after its incredible success in 2017. And the Symphoniker Hamburg and Ensemble Resonanz also present sophisticated programmes.

The soprano Julia Bullock and the American Modern Opera Company stage Olivier Messiaen’s twelve-part cycle »Harawi – Chant d’amour et de mort«, and the Tallis Scholars present an a-cappella programme centred around the »Song of Songs«. From Mendelssohn’s »A Midsummer Night’s Dream« and Prokofiev’s »Romeo and Juliet« to Schumann’s stirring choral ballad »Vom Pagen und der Königstochter«, numerous works on the Music Festival programme bear direct reference to the theme of love.

The acclaimed Quatuor Modigliani also dedicates three concerts to Franz Schubert’s string quartets, pianist Tamara Stefanovich demonstrates extreme stamina in a five-hour sonata marathon, and Alexander Melnikov presents piano works by influential Russian modernist composers.