Wise Music at Carnegie Hall’s Weimar Republic Festival

Wise Music at Carnegie Hall’s Weimar Republic Festival
Sergei Prokofiev, Kurt Weill, George Antheil, Duke Ellington

The centerpiece of Carnegie Hall’s 2024 season is Fall of the Weimar Republic: Dancing on the Precipice, a festival that explores one of the most complex and consequential chapters in modern human history. Between 1919 and 1933, German arts and culture reached new heights of both creative expression and sociopolitical commentary. A thriving and decadent nightlife provided escapism from the struggles and uncertainties of daily life, before the horrors of the Nazi regime took hold of Germany. Wise Music is proud to have several composers represented in Fall of the Weimar Republic; their featured works speak to the many facets of this singular era in cultural history. 

The festival commences with performances by the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. On January 21, Welser-Möst leads the Second Symphony by Sergei Prokofiev and the Symphony, Op. 21 by Anton Webern, two contrasting Weimar-era touchstones. Concluding the program is Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100, which was also recorded by the Cleveland Orchestra in 2021 and released to critical acclaim on their label in 2023. 

Composed and premiered around the conclusion of World War II, Prokofiev’s Fifth has gone on to become one of his best-known works. The Symphony is extremely inventive - introspective, satirical, and, at its finale, cautiously optimistic. These qualities and the setting of its premiere harken back to Weimar, when creativity was in bloom and Nazism on the rise. 

On January 23, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra bring the Symphony No. 2 by Kurt Weill to Carnegie. This “Symphonic Fantasy” has been in Nézet-Séguin’s repertoire since his early years with the Orchestre Métropolitain, with whom he recorded it in 2005.  

According to The Atlantic, Weill’s Symphony “sums up the musical revolution that Weill had begun as an enfant terrible in the mid-1920s.” Composed in 1933-34 as Weill was fleeing Germany, its mood is anxious and savage, while smoky melodies and textures still conjure echoes of Weimar cabarets. 

The American Composers Orchestra continues to highlight the music of Kurt Weill on March 12, in a program that also features American compositions to highlight the influence of jazz on Weimar’s musical ecosystem: Jazz Symphony by George Antheil and Morton Gould’s arrangements of Solitude and Sophisticated Lady by Duke Ellington. These timeless classics are programmed alongside a song from Weill’s beloved Threepenny Opera, filling Carnegie Hall with the spirit of Weimar’s flowing, transnational exchange of culture.  

For more information, please contact your local Wise Music Promotion Team.

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