When it comes to classical composers, most people think of old masters such as Beethoven and Mozart. But the »Elbphilharmonie Visions« festival demonstrates that contemporary music can also be »just as rich and diverse as humanity itself« (Alan Gilbert). The festival’s programme features only music by contemporary composers. Not only is that musically very exciting, it also offers an amazing opportunity to ask the composers questions about their works and the process of creating them. How do you go about composing? Do you have a concrete idea of the work before you sit down to write it, or does it emerge only when you start? What role do your surroundings play? And what are your hopes for your music?
The Festival composers talk about this in short interviews. In this case with Jörg Widmann, one of today's most brilliant double talents: Widmann is a virtuoso clarinettist as well as a prolific composer.
Do you already have a strong vision of a work before you set about writing it?
In the case of my »Labyrinth« compositions I would say more than ever that the path opens up ahead of you as you walk along it.
What role do non-musical factors play in your work?
In the case of »Towards Paradise«, the lockdowns and no-contact rules introduced in response to the coronavirus epidemic certainly play a major role.
I wanted to write something utopian to contrast with this sobering reality.
At the »Elbphilharmonie Visions« festival, contemporary orchestral music plays a more prominent role than probably at any other concert hall in the world: 18 works by 18 composers are being performed on nine consecutive evenings. Do you think that's a good idea, or is it the wrong strategy?
Not at all: the idea is fantastic! But it is just as important to continue juxtaposing contemporary music with the great works of the past.
What does contemporary music need to win the public's favour?
It needs musicians who love contemporary music! That's something the audience cannot ignore. And as far as composed music is concerned, the well-known comment of Beethoven's still applies: »From the heart – may it return to touch people's hearts!«
What improvements to concerts would you like to see – today and in the near future?
If people are still to be interested in concerts in the future, we need to see a serious improvement in educational standards and in the status of the arts in society.
Am Puls der Zeit
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