The Shrill Twenties

Subscription Concert at the Alter Oper Frankfurt

The golden, shrill Twenties: during the post-World War I years, a vibrant culture of experimentation and a search for new forms of expression, of enjoyment and a lust for life, dominated all artistic genres. On March 16, 2017, David Philip Hefti leads Ensemble Modern in a ›Focus on the 20ies‹ at the Alter Oper Frankfurt, delving deep into the musical extremes of that eventful decade. For example, there is Stefan Wolpe’s ›Suite from the Twenties‹, written between 1926 and 1929, which adapts popular dance styles of the time, e.g. tango, march, Charleston, ragtime and blues. It provides the starkest contrast imaginable, paired with Edgar Varèse’s ›Intégrales‹ (1924/25), in which eleven wind and brass players and four percussionists proceed through a multitude of harsh sounds. These opposites are flanked by Kurt Weill’s ›Suite Panaméenne‹, assembled from his incidental music for the play ›Marie Galante‹ (1934) and Hanns Eisler’s Chamber Symphony Op. 69 (1940), whose sound the composer invented for the film ›White Floods‹. Like Eisler and Weill, Stefan Wolpe fled the German Nazis, ultimately emigrating to the USA. In 1961 he composed his ›Piece in three parts‹ for piano and 16 instruments. It gives a concrete impression of the influence the artistic inventions of that »golden decade« exerted on the further development of musical writing.