Ernst Krenek – Das Leben des Orest „The Life of Orestes“, op. 60
(b. Vienna, August 23, 1900 – d. Palm Springs / California (USA), December 22, 1991)
„Country in the south!
Land of the sun!
my longing goes to you,
I want to sing about you now
as my longing demands of me“
This is the opening quote from the great opera Das Leben des Orest op. 60 by Ernst Krenek, the most famous Austrian composer of the 20th century and „enfant terrible of New Music“1, which today is largely unknown in contrast to his opera Jonny spielt auf, which is also available in recordings. By preceding quotations, as the one above, Krenek symbolizes „one of the many ways of representing his intellectual problems. They are not only music for the sake of music, but also for the sake of its idea. The thinker Krenek can communicate in music, the musician Krenek in words.“2
Matthias Schmidt enthusiastically notes about Krenek’s compositions, for which the composer mostly wrote the libretti himself: „Like a burning glass, essential features of the Austrian musical tradition, especially between Schubert and Mahler, are condensed in Ks. [Krenek‘s] art, which he consistently adapted to the compositional conditions of the 20th century: the finely balanced values of a stylistic pluralism […], the musical criticism of rigidly inserted technical systems, the definition of composing as an act of ‚thinking‘, but finally also the emphatic understanding of music as a language and the work-like character as unifying basis of every artistic creation.“ …
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