Homage to Mieczysław Weinberg

Kremerata Baltica is performing at Wiener Festwochen 2015 on June 13-14 with a series of concerts “Homage to Mieczysław Weinberg.” 

Besides conductor Mirga Gražžinytė-Tyla, soloists joining our orchestra in these special events include Gidon Kremer (violin), Martha Argerich, Yulianna Avdeeva, Andrius Žlabys (piano), Olessia Petrova (soprano), Alexei Mochalov (bass), Mate Bekavac (clarinet), Gábor Boldoczki (trumpet), Andrei Pushkarev, Pavel Bialiayeu, Igor Avdeev (percussion), Madara Pētersone, Agata Daraškaitė (violin), Santa Vižine (viola), Giedrė Dirvanauskaitė, Pēteris Sokolovskis (violoncello), Iurii Gavryliuk (double bass).

Why has this composer been ignored for so long? Hugely talented Mieczysław Weinberg – born in 1919 in Warsaw into a Jewish family of musicians – begins to compose his first songs and pieces for piano as a self-taught adolescent. At the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, 19-year-old Mieczysław escapes eastward on foot, in the company of his sister. Exhausted, Ester, two years younger than her brother, returns to her parents after just a few kilometres. Mieczysław will never see her or their parents again. First, Weinberg studies composition in Minsk; when the German troops begin to enter the Soviet Union, he is evacuated from here to Tashkent, 4,000 kilometres away. In 1943, Shostakovich brings him to Moscow, where Weinberg spends the rest of his life as a freelance composer. Accused of being a partisan of a potential Jewish republic in the Crimea, he is arrested in 1953. His lifelong friend and mentor Dmitri Shostakovich pleads his cause in a very courageous letter. Weinberg is only released after Stalin’s death.
In the 1960s, he finally learns with absolute certainty that his entire family was murdered by the Nazis. ≫I regard it as my moral duty to write about the war, about the horrors that have befallen humanity in our century.≪
Mieczysław Weinberg leaves an impressive musical oeuvre: more than 20 symphonies, concerts and chamber music, song cycles and operas. He also composes scores for films seen by millions of spectators. “Sad and free”, in the words of fellow composer Sofia Gubaidulina, ≫is how this music strikes the listener.≪
On an invitation by Wiener Festwochen, Gidon Kremer together with his Kremerata Baltica and soloists will present a portrait of Mieczysław Weinberg and his spiritual kinship with Dmitri Shostakovich. This series of concerts is complemented by a discussion round and a screening of the film The Cranes Are Flying.

More about the festival here.