“Everything comes to me without effort, technically it all comes very easily & in the end I feel I’ve produced something worthwhile.” writes Alexander Zemlinsky in a letter to Arnold Schönberg on A Florentine Tragedy.
Exactly one hundred years ago, Zemlinsky’s gripping one-act opera was premièred at the Stuttgart State Theatre by Max von Schillings
In 2015 Roland Freisitzer arranged a chamber version of the opera. This chamber version makes do with just 20 instruments (optionally with string sections).
“And then, by a lucky accident, I switched on my car radio while driving home. I was so struck by the beauty and opulence of what I heard that I was afraid to turn it off for fear of not learning what the piece was; its loss would have haunted me like the lost chord.”
Read James Conlon’s full text on Alexander Zemlinsky on our MusikSalon.
The Australian première of Antony Beaumont’s critical edition of Alexander Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau [The Mermaid] will be performed on 24 July by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Simone Young. The critical edition contains the “Mer-witch episode”, a rediscovered and up to now unknown scene.
View the full study score.
Antony Beaumont on The Mermaid:
Zemlinsky first envisaged The Mermaid as a through-composed symphony in two movements, each subdivided into two sections. During the process of composition (February 1902–March 1903) he recast the work into three separate movements.
The first of these follows the well-known story by Hans Christian Andersen from a murky opening (‘at the bottom of the sea’) to the moment where the Mermaid rescues the shipwrecked Prince from drowning. The second, in extended ternary form, focuses on a subsidiary scene in Andersen (a ball in the palace of the Mer-king) before moving on to the crucial confrontation between the Mermaid and the Mer-witch. The third depicts the Mermaid transformed into a mortal, her anguish, suicide and transfiguration.
Read the full text online in our Musiklätter 2.
Alexander Zemlinsky: Die Seejungfrau
for orchestra | 45'
Critical edition; arranger: Antony Beaumont (2011)
prem. 24.07.2014, Opera House, Sydney; Sydney SO, cond. Simone Young
Further performances: 25. and 28.07.2014
Andrew Clements of The Guardian has reviewed the Escher String Quartet’s recent recording of Alexander Zemlinsky’s String Quartet No. 2 which has been released on Naxos: “This second disc is as impressive, and includes a superb performance of the Second Quartet, one of Zemlinsky's greatest and most radical achievements.” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 12.06.2014)
Read the full review on The Guardian.
On 3 May 1921, Alexander Zemlinsky received the following telegram: “have read your opera the dwarf with great enjoyment cologne is prepared to accept sole rights for world premiere would you be prepared to entrust your work to us Klemperer.” Zemlinsky’s opera in one act (librettist: Georg Klaren), which is based on Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale “The Birthday of the Infanta”, received its world première one year later, on 28 May 1922 in Cologne under Otto Klemperer.
The first reduced version of Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg, arranged by Jan-Benjamin Homolka, will be premiéred on 6 February at the Wilhelma Theater in Stuttgart. Nicholas Kok conducts musicians of the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart.
“Alexander Zemlinsky’s four quartets seem underrated. They are among the finest composed in Europe in the first half of the 20th century, but are rarely mentioned in the same breath as those by Zemlinsky’s contemporaries such as Schoenberg and Berg, Janáček and Bartók.”
Find the full review on The Guardian.
Today the Austrian première of Antony Beaumont’s critical edition of Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau [The Mermaid] will be performed by the Wiener Symphoniker under Markus Poschner, the musical director of the Bremer Philharmoniker and the Theater Bremen. Poschner – filling in for James Conlon – conducts the Wiener Symphoniker for his first time. The performance will be repeated tomorrow.
The rehearsal at the Wiener Konzerthaus is going great, the première will be something to look forward to!
Die Seejungfrau / The Mermaid (1903)
for orchestra | 45’
4 3 4 3 - 6 3 4 1 - timp, perc(2), hp(2), str
Critical edition by Antony Beaumont (2011)
prem. 7 and 8/6/2013, Konzerthaus, Wien; Wiener Symphoniker, cond. Markus Poschner
Here in Amsterdam, the final rehearsal of the critical edition of Alexander Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau at the Concertgebouw went well. We are looking forward to today's performance, where Vladimir Jurowski will conduct the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest.
View the full score of the new critical edition of Zemlinsky's Seejungfrau
While the Wien Modern festival is raging here in Vienna, here’s a quick look at some other performances around the world this week.
Julian Yu: Philopentatonia at the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo
You can see a full list of all forthcoming performances in our calendar.
Here’s conductor Edo de Waart talking about Alexander Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony, on the occasion of his performance this spring with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
Kent Nagano conducts John Daszak in the lead role.
The première will be broadcast live on BR-Klassik Radio at 7pm on Sunday 27th February (Munich time).
Video introduction to the Munich production (in German):
See more photos from Munich.