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 »War and Peace«.

© Julian Conrad

»Peace, peace on Earth!«: the message conveyed by Arnold Schoenberg’s choral work »Friede auf Erden« is unambiguous. Though after he had completed the score, the composer was not the only person to admit that it was an illusion – as we found out in Europe last year. Nonetheless, these words cannot be repeated too often. And that spirit prompted Alan Gilbert to choose the Late Romantic work as the opener for the 2024 edition of the Hamburg International Music Festival.

The festival motto this time round is »War and Peace«, following the title of Tolstoy’s famous and timeless novel. It shows how composers in different eras have treated this often-distressing subject. In her large-scale oratorio »Über Liebe und Hass« (About Love and Hate), for example, Sofia Gubaidulina continues her unwavering mission »to bring love to places where hatred rules«. It goes without saying that the festival would not be complete without Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with its anthem appealing for »all men to become brothers«. And with Olivier Messiaen’s sole opera »Saint François d’Assise« about peacemaker St Francis of Assisi, Kent Nagano and his Philharmonic Orchestra bring a lavishly produced project to the Grand Hall that fits the festival motto perfectly.

Events of the festival