This season celebrates the 70th birthday of York Höller, including a selection of premieres and an acclaimed new staging last September of his opera The Master and Margarita.
York Höller celebrates his 70th birthday this month, and this season is bringing a sequence of celebratory premieres, plus a new staging in Hamburg last September of The Master and Margarita, described by a reviewer as “one of the great literary operas of the 20th century” (Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger).
Höller’s Cello Concerto was premiered in November by Adrian Brendel within a portrait concert by the NDR Symphony Orchestra, also including his Grawemeyer Award-winning orchestral work Sphären. The new concerto grew from Höller’s earlier work for cello and piano, Mouvements, and is now available in full orchestral form. Höller’s latest orchestral work, Voyage, describing a journey into an imaginary landscape, is premiered by the Seoul Philharmonic in April, with its German premiere in May by the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne. Ensemble Modern gives the world premiere of Aufschwung con tenuto for clarinet, viola and piano on 13 March in Frankfurt within a Schumann-themed programme.
The Master and Margarita, Höller’s only opera, was acclaimed afresh in the new Hamburg production by Jochen Biganzoli, viewed by many as the highpoint during Simone Young’s tenure at the opera house. There was an element of reparation to the composer as Hamburg had originally commissioned the stagework, before it was staged at the Paris Opera in 1989 by Hans Neuenfels. Like Bulgakov’s novel, Höller’s opera operates on many levels, combining lyrical writing of Bergian intensity, colourful orchestration, vaudeville entertainment and sophisticated electronics. Both works also share a time-travelling aspect, not least in the Grand Ball of Satan, where Höller takes us on a trip from Renaissance music to the Rolling Stones.
“…exuberant, richly creative music. In its profundity it’s held together through serial structures…but it also has a considerable immediate attraction. This lies above all in the stylistic allusions and partly direct quotations which Höller fits together to form a true pandemonium without resorting to eclecticism in the process.”
Die Deutsche Bühne
"Höller’s inventive power and his skill in dealing with the requirements of the stage continue to impress."
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
“York Höller doesn’t shy away from echoes of vaudeville, coffee house or rock music. The pseudo-Russian revolutionary style of the young Stravinsky sparks when he wants to sketch the grotesque, the supernatural, the insane, or to give voice to the surrealism of the story... Other opera houses should not shy away from performances of Höller’s congenial operatic adaption of the Bulgakov story. It’s worth it!”
“Höller’s opera has long since lost its avantgarde sting – in the best sense. It has matured into a masterpiece of modern music.”
Photo: The Master and Margarita staged at the Hamburg Staatsoper (Photo: Jorg Landsberg)
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