Moravian Autumn 2017



6 - 28 / 10 / 2017, Brno

49th, biennial



Revolution is a sudden reversal during which the status quo collapses and is replaced by a new order; evolution is a natural, long-term and spontaneous process of change. If the revolutionary impulse is constantly repeated, it becomes the norm, provoking further, new (or old-new) reactions. This is how revolution and evolution come together to make ®evolution.

We know from historical experience how revolutionary impulses sometimes work out in the process of evolution. When Alfred Nobel invented dynamite 150 years ago, he could not have predicted how his invention would be abused in the twentieth century. Nor could Darwin, Nietzsche or Wagner have expected that their work would be used in propaganda promoting racial supremacy. The left-wing avant-gardes, too, meant well for humanity. Many revolutions have ended in catastrophe. Art in itself, however, has noble aims and transcends time; artworks survive their creators and the time of their production.

This year’s Moravian Autumn is presented in the name of ®evolution. Its focus is on pre-war twentieth-century music, but it also includes some much earlier works.

Three hundred years ago, Johann Sebastian Bach responded to a truly revolutionary innovation in tuning by starting work on his celebrated cycle, the Well-Tempered Clavier. This gave us the idea of organising a weekend-long piano marathon that will include a complete performance of Satie’s Vexations and concerts that contrast Bach with Debussy, Scarlatti with Cage, and Russian with Czech modernists.

We commemorate Russian futurism – its enthusiasm for a modern future, its fascination with the achievements of the technical revolution and the possibilities of urbanism – with tributes to two sadly half-forgotten artistic accomplishments: the opera Victory over the Sun (a joint work by Mikhail Matyushin, Aleksei Kruchonykh, Kazimir Malevich and Velimir Khlebnikov) and Arseny Avraamov’s Symphony of Sirens. The idea of a ‘resounding city’, embodied in the latter work, will be realised within Brno’s soundscape by the celebrated German creative duo, Andreas Ammer/FM Einheit (ex-Einstürzende Neubauten).

The festival programme reflects a number of anniversaries: 450 years since the death of Jacobus Vaet (recent research suggests that he probably died and was buried in Brno), 100 years since the death of Claude Debussy and the same number of years since the birth of Isang Yun, the South Korean composer; the 80th anniversary of Valentin Silvestrov, the Ukrainian composer; 70 years since the foundation of the Janáček Quartet and 25 years since the death of John Cage. We also factor in the 30th anniversary of the Exposition of New Music which, like Moravian Autumn, forms part of the Brno International Music Festival and this year is held concurrently with it.

In 2017 we also commemorate the 80th anniversary of the death of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, the centenary of which we will celebrate next year. The programming recognises these anniversaries by including a large share of Czech music (including works by Jan Dismas Zelenka, Leoš Janáček, Pavel Haas, Ervín Schulhoff, Jaroslav Ježek, Miloslav Kabeláč and Marek Kopelent) and in the celebratory conclusion of the festival on 28 October – a bank holiday and the day when Czechoslovakia’s independence was proclaimed – which will feature performances by several Brno choirs and the planting of a “Masaryk Linden tree” (the national tree of the Czechs) in the park on Rooseveltova ulice.

Moravian Autumn does not forget its young audience, for whom two special events are scheduled: a meeting after some years with the successful participants in the piano competition Amadeus 2005 – they are now adults – and a performance of Kirana, the children’s opera, in which students of Brno’s elementary arts schools will be involved.

The Janáček Opera House is being reconstructed this year and this has prevented us from organising symphonic concerts by large ensembles, which have always constituted the core of the festival. However, making a virtue of necessity, we have created a programme based on unique, ad hoc projects and present them in various Brno venues, including Besední dům, Stadion/Babylon Cultural Centre, the Red Church, the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Divadlo na Orlí/Orlí Street Theatre, the Brno Exhibition Grounds and the Villa Tugendhat. Considering that on days when there are no Moravian Autumn performances, there will be concerts of the Exposition of New Music, this will be a truly musical October. We invite you to experience it with us.


Vítězslav Mikeš

(with contributions by Viktor Pantůček)

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