The absolute highlight of Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s centenary year was the concert performance of his opera Des Simplicius Simplicissimus Jugend in Munich's Prinzregententheater. It was the first performance of the original version, reconstructed by Wilfried Hiller and Robert Klimesch on commission from Bavarian Broadcasting.
While Hartmann described his work as an 'opera' he avoided 'stock operatic gestures' in the shaping of his musical language - it seems more likely to have been based on the style of Stravinsky’s L'’histoire du soldat. The style of the work is directly related to the historical context of its composition: the original version was composed in 1934-1936 on the suggestion of Hermann Scherchen, who had lived in Swiss exile since 1933.
The plot follows the destiny of a person threatened with the loss of himself and his world in the maelstrom of the Thirty Years War. Hartmann confronts this period with harsh refractions, nameless sorrow and biting satire. He dedicated the overture, composed in 1939, to Sergei Prokofiev, whose music embodied the style of the international avant-garde decried by the Nazis.
Hartmann's feelings when he set to work on the revision (1955/56) following World War II would be hard to describe! Includes Bonus: Bernhard Neuhoff in conversation with Wilfried Hiller and Ulf Schirmer, with sound documents from Karl Amadeus and Elisabeth Hartmann.
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