With its love of experiment and changing perspectives, Linz has, aside from technology and science, often enough been a laboratory for inventive musicians and composers. Linz’s appreciation for the great innovators in music, whether Bruckner, Wagner or Philip Glass, has never showed any signs of waning – a fact to which the city’s overall music programme for 2013 amply testifies. One of its leitmotifs spans the period from Wagner to Bruckner, and back again.
On 11 April 2013, the troupe of Catalan performers La Fura dels Baus celebrates the brilliant opening of the Musiktheater Linz am Volksgarten. In Ein Parzival, the uncompromising squad of artistes have adapted a theme taken from Richard Wagner. To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the composer from Bayreuth, in 2013 the Artistic Director of the Musiktheater, Rainer Mennicken, embarks on the staging of the entire Ring des Nibelungen opera cycle.
The music-loving public is already excitedly awaiting to the traditional Bruckner Festival, whose key theme is this year Impulses: as the new Artistic Director of the event, former Director of the Semperoper Joachim Frey is for the first time designing the programme. One of his foremost concerns is to highlight the work of the organ virtuoso and composer whose creative work in Linz revolutionised music history with his innovative montage techniques.
The internationally renowned Bruckner Orchester Linz, with its charismatic Principal Conductor Dennis Russell Davies, is at home in both Linz concert venues. In September, Visualised Linz Cloud of Sound, a total musical theatre art work and a joint project of the Ars Electronica Festival and the Brucknerhaus, will again be on the programme of events at the Donaupark. Its motto is Bruckner lives, again linking this always spectacular audiovisual display more closely to the Bruckner Festival. In the Classical Linz Cloud of Sound, a concert is broadcast live under the open sky. This year, one new feature is that the audience can choose between three musical pieces. From 31 May to 31 July, members of the public will be able to vote for whichever concert and date they prefer at www.brucknerhaus.at (new window)
From April 2013, the Bruckner Orchester’s new headquarters will be the orchestra pit of the Musiktheater Linz, which is perfectly equipped for both audiences and artists. And the Musiktheater is also the venue of the world premiere of Philip Glass's latest operatic prank, Spur der Verirrten. It’s no coincidence that the world premiere is being held in Linz – after all, Glass is one of the great musical innovators of the twentieth century and someone who particularly appreciates the special genius loci of Linz. It was thanks to his musical fellow-traveller Davies that the composer of minimal music got to know and love Linz – and became likewise acquainted with the Bruckner Orchester (new window), for whose interpretations of his works Glass has high praise.
The Musiktheater am Volksgarten (new window) is a venue for the OÖ Landestheater Linz and, as Europe’s most modern opera house, provides a unique setting for a wide variety of productions. Just its style of architecture is strikingly future-oriented: Terry Pawson’s London architect’s office has thereby created a structural link between the district around the railway station and the city centre. The theatre has five storeys and two basements, and the stage tower has three additional levels. The facade surrounds the building like a gigantic stage curtain which can, as the need arises, either be covered or be glass over its entire surface area to let in the light. Pawson continues the visual metaphor of the curtain in the interior too. The Musiktheater will be the first Austrian theatre to have a multifunctional revolving stage for transporting sets - which, with a diameter of 32 metres, is the centre of the changing stage landscape.
The musical trail which the quirky genius Anton Bruckner (1824 - 1896) left in Linz is still fresh, still present. The Bruckner Organ in the Alter Dom or Old Cathedral offers the unique opportunity of hearing its resonances as Bruckner himself did. For, this instrument, which was adapted to conform to Bruckner’s musical conceptions when he was the cathedral organist, has since then remained unchanged, both structurally and acoustically. The stairway up to the organ loft has been lovingly designed as a small Bruckner museum. Those who wish to tread in Bruckner‘s footsteps should not miss a visit to the museum in the house where Bruckner was born in Ansfelden near Linz (to be re-opened on 1 June 2013!). The Symphony Trail then leads fans of Bruckner and hiking to St. Florian’s Priory, where Bruckner used to compose on “his” organ.
Tip: From May to December in 2013, on Sundays only, the Daily City Tour includes a visit to the Bruckner Stairway at the Alter Dom.
www.linz.at/bruckner (new window)
But it won’t be just Bruckner’s music which will be in the air in 2013. A huge number of festivals of all shapes and colours will provide a varied feast for the ear. Outstanding international street musicians will be giving guest performances in Linz for the summer Pflasterspektakel street art festival, and the big Krone Fest will transform the whole city centre into a concert venue. More tranquil pleasures will be offered by the open-air concerts Classics at the Cathedral, at which world stars will be performing in front of the Mariendom under the night sky, as well as by the Musica Sacra series of concerts of ecclesiastical music.
At Whitsun, music from somewhat outside the mainstream will be provided by the LinzFest at both the Brucknerhaus and the Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, which will also be one of the musical venues in 2013. The exhibition Glam! The Art of Excess evokes an epoch of pop culture whose sound track was created by icons like David Bowie, Marc Bolan and the young Queen, with Freddie Mercury.
Diagonally opposite, on the other bank of the Danube, we find the Ars Electronica Center, whose newly equipped, publicly accessible Sound Lab offers music on its daily programme. The Fassadenspiel, to which the AEC invites onlookers every evening, is simply astonishing: simply plug your own MP3 player into the terminal next to the Danube, and the façade lighting already begins to dance and pulsate in time to the music, which can now be heard far and wide.
In keeping with the music theme of 2013, the Schlossmuseum will be displaying its collection of musical instruments and presenting a musical programme, both at the castle and the Landesgalerie. International contemporary music, ranging from electronic to indie and high-quality pop music, will be accommodated at the harbour: at no less a place, in fact, than the celebrated Posthof - one of the fixed ports of call on the tour calendar of so many bands, songwriters and DJs.
Small but sophisticated festivals include the music and art delicatessen festival 4020.mehr als musik (in 2013, focused on the theme of Persia) and Stop.Spot!, the post-rock, electronic and experimental music with a series of lectures following a central theme.
A walk through Linz is at the same time always a walk on fertile musical soil. At the Klosterstraße, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart conjured up his Symphony No. 36 at very short notice, while passing through Linz: it later won fame as the Linz Symphony, Ludwig van Beethoven completed his Symphony No. 8 in Linz. The grand piano that served as the maestro’s tool for his work now adorns the collection of musical exhibits at the Schlossmuseum.
History was also made at the Herrenstraße: the Hotel zum schwarzen Bären once saw the birth of a king – the King of Belcanto, the never-to-be-forgotten Richard Tauber. And Tauber is not by any means the last exceptional talent to have been imbued with the spirit of Linz.
One of the outstanding musicians and composers who either live or have lived in Linz, or have spent decisive years of their careers here, is the celebrated conductor and Musical Director of the State Opera House, Franz Welser-Möst.
Paul Haslinger, now living in Los Angeles, the creator of grandiose soundtracks for games such as Lara Croft and films like Minority Report, also comes from Linz.
As does the composer and musician Peter Androsch, who will be presenting two new operas at the Brucknerhaus and the Musiktheater in 2013, and who launched the much-praised acoustic initiative Audio City. This project started the noise bombardment free initiative, which exists in no other town. Through displaying this sticker, many shops and restaurants signal that they consciously refrain from forcing intrusive background music on their customers. Equally free from bombardment with canned music are the Linz Christmas markets. The idea behind it is to allow people to exercise sovereign control over their own senses.
The people of Linz are proud of the living industrial heritage of their city. Architectural icons, such as the railway bridge or the former tobacco factory built by Peter Behrens and Alexander Popp, have much to tell us of industrial and technological history. A city walk by the Danube shows how peacefully clean, profitable industry and more nature than one would ever expect harmonise with one another in Linz. Two third of the city’s area is grassland.
The members of the hip-hop crew Texta, who have for the past 20 years been part of the bedrock of German hip-hop with their sophisticated samples and their witty, polished rhymes, are real steel-town children. Kindred spirits of the same generation are Markus Binder and H.P. Falkner who together, and with accordion plus drums, make up Attwenger – a musical institution that defies all categorisation.
At a time when Austropop already seemed to have degenerated into the exclusive province of worn-out older men, a whirlwind from Greater Linz called Christina Stürmer swept through Austria’s musical landscape, breathing new life into the music scene. Similarly refreshing is Parov Stelar, who jives with electronic music, earning applause on the stages of clubs, festivals and concert houses throughout Europe. Mono & Nikitaman are a no less successful outfit: and the career of Mono, the feminine component of the punk reggae duo, likewise began where so many things begin - in Linz.
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