To his friend Felice, Kafka, whilst writing The Metamorphosis, “You once said you would like to sit beside me while I write; listen, in that case I could not write… For writing means revealing oneself to excess… This is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around when one writes, why even night is not night enough. This is why there is never enough time at one’s disposal, for the roads are long and it is easy to go astray… I have often thought that the best mode of life for me would be to sit in the innermost room of a spacious locked cellar with my writing things and a lamp. Food would be brought and always put down far away from my room, outside the cellar’s outermost door. The walk to my food, in my dressing gown, through the vaulted cellars, would be my only exercise. I would then return to my table, eat slowly and with deliberation, then start writing again at once. And how I would write! From what depths I would drag it up!”.
Elias Canetti, in The Conscience of Words, points out that “one has to read this splendid letter all the way through; never has anything purer and stricter been said about writing. All the ivory towers in the world collapse in the face of this basement dweller, and that abused and vacuous expression, the writer’s ‘solitude’, has suddenly regained weight and meaning. This is the only true and valid happiness for him, and every fibre in his being yearns for it”. Whatever the aim, weren’t all chefs-d’oeuvre in music created in this way?
Performing a work is not merely reproducing music as it appears on the sheet. Particularly in the field of ancient music, simply consulting textbooks and archives is not enough.
Today, there are many musicians who know more or less how to perform works from different periods. But why so many conformist performances? Why so many imitators of remarkable recordings made thirty or forty years ago by great pioneers? How many artists truly and profoundly search, create something personal, even tentatively, by trial and error?
Kafka enjoyed dreaming that “in a large room full of people, he read aloud in French, without interruption, for as many days and nights as necessary, Flaubert’s Sentimental Education in its entirety which he loved passionately – and that enough to make the walls vibrate”. A prime example of a creative artist’s statement of belief and indomitable force when faced with such a masterpiece.
On the brink of our 20th anniversary, in 2017, we have the immense pleasure of presenting to you this year, for the first time, the St Matthew Passion with the best children’s choir (64 choristers!) and the fresh interpretation which a great baroque conductor will unfailingly provide. On the programme: the intense The Art of the Fugue, all the sublime Handel’s motets, brilliant Vivaldi concerti, the moving chaconne of Dido & Aeneas, the magical dances of The Fairy Queen, as well as a carte blanche for an exceptional violist da gamba. Without forgetting three flamboyant Abend-Musiken from the music of North Germany from the end of the 16th century until our great Bach’s era, beginning, amongst others, with the Praetorius family from Hambourg, founder of the north German organ school, then Georg Böhm, the unique and true professor of the young Bach (as confirmed by recent musicological discoveries), and finally Dietrich Buxtehude, the spiritual father. Fundamentally innovative in a pivotal period in the history of music, all the composers of the North form an essential foundation to the Germanic school before Bach. Numerous chefs-d’oeuvre!
A fascinating and stimulating conference and Bach Days are also being held thanks to the contagious enthusiasm of teachers and students from the Haute Ecole de Musique and the Conservatoire in Lausanne. All this brought to you by our new team on the organising committee.
How can you resist it?
Festival Artistic Director
Translation : Kate Espasandin
Elias Canetti, The Conscience of Words (Das Gewissen der Worte),
translated by Joachim Neugroschel