new incidental music for Jedermann

I now work in Schloss Leopoldskron, former home to Europe’s leading impressario Max Reinhardt (from 1918, when he purchased it, until 1938, when the Nazis stole it).  Keeping his traditions alive, we schedule private concerts in the Great Hall (living room) of the Palace on most weeks.  Generally we invite performers from Salzburg’s Mozarteum conservatory – quite frequently a solo pianist.  While I will not review all of these, some concerts are worth special note.  Tonight we invited Ensemble 013 to perform new incidental music to Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s drama Jedermann.

Reinhardt, Hofmannsthal, and Richard Strauss together founded the Salzburg Festival in this very palace in 1920.  Reinhardt made Jedermann the cornerstone of the first Festival that year, and the cult play has been performed at the Festival every year since (the Festival literature makes a point that this tradition has been maintained unbroken every year, although I somehow find it hard to believe that the Nazis would have allowed the performance of a play by a Jewish author between 1938, after the annexation of Austria, until the 1945 Festival which would have taken place after the liberation).

2013 saw a new production of Jedermann at the Festival.  Ensemble 013, the stage orchestra for this production, performed all new music composed by members of the Ensemble, often inspired by traditional Balkan music.  Tonight, Ensemble 013 played several of these incidental pieces, as well as other original works in a similar style.  The atmosphere in Reinhardt’s palace provided inspiration, with the right combination of tradition and novelty.

The acoustics in the Great Hall usually serve chamber music well, but less so larger groups.  Although Ensemble 013 is a small group, its combination of winds and percussion in addition to strings and keyboard, as well as the Balkan beats, proved more rambunctious than this room generally experiences.  Nevertheless, the sound worked.  So many strands came together.  The music came home, as it were.

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