If my musical setting of this unparalleled work, which is as relevant today as it was at its creation eighteen and a half centuries ago, should succeed in bringing the hearer spiritually closer to it, then that will be my greatest reward.
(Franz Schmidt on The Book with 7 Seals)
The oratorio The Book with 7 Seals is the last work Franz Schmidt completed. Subtitled The Revelation to John, the evangelist (sung by a heroic tenor) plays the leading role in the almost two-hour work, which was composed of four other soloists, large choir, organ and orchestra. In his foreword, Schmidt describes the work as an oratorio on the “fundamental antithesis” of good and evil. Musically, they are juxtaposed as melodious and dissonant: after the downfall of the world there is the promise of a new heaven and a new earth.
The powerful piece, filled with musical allusions and formidable images, was premièred in Vienna in 1938 – a cry of fear and hope, shortly before the outbreak of war.
From today’s perspective the timeless masterpiece also reflects the variety of musical styles of the first half of the 20th century. On 21 December it will be performed at the DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen. Fabio Luisi conducts the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, with Herbert Lippert as John.
For me, Franz Schmidt is one of the most important symphony composers of the 20th century. (Fabio Luisi)
Fabio Luisi talks about Franz Schmidt:
View the score:
The Book with 7 Seals