Manfred Honeck
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available until 2 Mar 2027

Manfred Honeck conducts Bruckner’s Ninth

The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra performs Bruckner’s famous Ninth Symphony under the baton of the top Austrian conductor.

Manfred Honeck, principal conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for more than 15 years, now returns every year to conduct the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. The programme includes Bruckner’s celebrated Ninth Symphony, a truly seminal work of the 20th century – as powerful on the ear as it is on the heart. After presenting his special project »Mozart and Death in Words and Music« last season, this latest offering in Hamburg is all about life after death with Bruckner’s unfinished monumental work and a contemporary composition about Elysium.

Performers

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

conductor Manfred Honeck

Programme

Samy Moussa
Elysium for Orchestra

Anton Bruckner
Symphony No. 9 in D minor

Anton Bruckner: Fotografie von Josef Löwy, 1894
Anton Bruckner: Fotografie von Josef Löwy, 1894 © Wikimedia Commons (Original)

About the programme

In Greek mythology, the heroes who were particularly beloved by the gods found eternal peace on the »Isles of the Blessed«: Elysium. The Berlin-based Canadian composer Samy Moussa has dedicated a musical work to this paradise. It was premiered in Barcelona in 2021 and subsequently given its first German performance by Manfred Honeck. The musical depiction of the eagerly desired reward for all earthly toil is now also being performed at the Elbphilharmonie.

It’s no coincidence that Honeck has chosen to programme Moussa’s work, which was certainly inspired by Anton Bruckner’s expansive style, just before the latter’s Ninth Symphony. Moussa’s piece thereby functions, in a way, as a prologuing fourth movement to the deeply religious composer’s »Unfinished« Symphony – as a forecast of where everything could, in the end, lead. »And now I dedicate my last work to the majesty of all the majesties, the beloved God, and hope that he will give me so much time to complete the same,« Bruckner allegedly said during work on his monumental Symphony in D Minor – although this wish was ultimately not granted. He died while working on drafts for the finale.

But even without this closing movement, the symphony bears all the features of an »opus ultimum«, a summary of all that constitutes Bruckner’s tonal language. The suspenseful opening phase, for example, that is a feature of every single one of his symphonies, is carried to extremes here with an extra-long preparation phase. Nowhere do things get as wild as in the Scherzo of the Ninth, and nowhere does the listener feel that Elysium is closer than in the magnificent Adagio, which fades away with reminiscences of previous Bruckner symphonies.

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