‘Prosit Neu Jahr!’
, as the Wiener Philharmoniker
chorale as one voice in the closing stages of the annual New Year’s Day concert from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein.
It’s a time for looking forward and making resolutions, a cultural conditioning that perhaps has an evolutionary aspect – for those in the Northern Hemisphere at any rate.
What better in the middle of winter to collectively look to better things when the days are getting longer and spring is round the corner.
Bucking that evolutionary argument,
I like to expound that the only New Year resolution I will ever make is not to make any New Year resolutions
(is that an ideological equivalent to an MC Escher graphic?).
But I’m happy to look forward to see what 2016 might bring, musically speaking.
Of course, the future is inextricably connected to the past, as the rash of anniversaries the musical
world will be celebrating (for birthdays) and commemorating (for deaths) in the coming
twelve months simply goes to prove.
In passing we can also guess how many of 2015’s notable anniversaries will get much platform action and air time next year;
as previously noted, Glazunov in his 150th anniversary year hardly got any attention, so what hope for him in 2016 (whereas Sibelius will never be far from our ears…)?
For living composers the most notable are surely fellow Central European nonagenarians –
Friedrich Cerha and György Kurtág, turning 90 within two days of each other in February (17th and 19th respectively).
October sees the next most august pairing in Sofia Gubaidulina (85) and Steve Reich (80).
For those already departed there is the 150th anniversary of Erik Satie’s birth in May, and three notable 125th birth anniversaries – Busoni and Prokofiev (both April) and Sir Arthur Bliss (August) – while Henri Dutilleux, Alberto Ginastera and Milton Babbitt’s
centenaries fall in January, April and May respectively.
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett would have been 80 in March and Hans Werner Henze would have been 90 in July.
Death anniversaries include Manuel de Falla and Vincent Youmans (both 70 years ago), Ottorino Respighi (80 years ago), Enrique Granados, Julius Fučik, Max Reger (all 100 years ago) and Léo Delibes (125 years ago).
The above is only a selective list of better known composers; there are many others who may well be worth rediscovering in their notable year, but would performers and promoters take a chance? There’s probably more than enough to be going on with in that partial list above, but should anyone like to champion anyone else, let’s see if we can start changing some perceptions.
Perhaps the ‘discover more music than you ever thought had been written’ campaign starts right here!
In the meantime, I look forward to doing some Clapping Music in honour of Reich, taking Tea for Two with Youmans (probably courtesy of Shostakovich’s witty re-orchestration), dancing in a toy shop to Delibes’ Giselle, taking various tours round the Festivals, Fountains and Pines of Rome (in Respighi’s company) and contemplating Things to Come in Bliss’ marvellous early film score to Alexander Korda’s film of HG Wells’ famous novel.
And, just in case you didn’t know, it’s HG Wells’ 150th birth anniversary in September! How neat a coincidence is that?
© Nick Breckenfield, 2015
Nick Breckenfield has worked in and around the classical music industry over the last 25 years - at venues, agencies and as
a programme note writer and marketeer. He was Classical Music
editor for Whatsonwhen for 13 years,
and current clients include the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.