Wilhelm Furtwängler’s decision to remain conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic under Hitler, and his subsequent de-Nazification by the Americans, is the focus of Ronald Harwood’s 1995 play ‘Taking Sides’. It is now back on the London stage alongside Harwood’s recent work on the same theme, ‘Collaboration’, which explores Richard Strauss’s association with the regime in the 1930s and his relationship with the Jewish author and librettist Stefan Zweig.
Petroc talks to Oscar-winning Harwood about the issues of guilt, naivety, culpability and human weakness in the plays, with specially recorded extracts featuring Michael Pennington (as Furtwängler and Strauss) and David Horovitch (as Furtwängler’s post-war interrogator Major Steve Arnold and Stefan Zweig).
Taking Sides and Collaboration are at the Duchess Theatre in London until 22nd August.
The Grantham born composer Nicholas Maw died this week in Washington DC. With major works including his ‘Odyssey’ for orchestra and his four hour opera Sophie’s Choice, Maw had a remarkable talent for the large scale, but despite his break-through work Scenes and Arias at the Proms in the 1960’s, and subsequent moments of fame, many believe Maw’s music did not always receive the acclaim it was due.
Music Matters pays tribute to Maw’s legacy with contributions from Sir Simon Rattle, who conducted the first performances of Sophie’s Choice in 2002, the original ‘Sophie’ Angelika Kirchschlager, music critic Paul Driver, and fellow composers Julian Anderson and Oliver Knussen.
For Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki politics and religion have always played a central role – both themes reflected in works such as his Polish Requiem, written in 1980 for the victims of anti-government riots at the Gdansk Shipyard, or the St Luke Passion, which he recently conducted as part of Polska! Year and the ‘Sounds New Festival’ in Canterbury Cathedral.
In conversation with Petroc, Penderecki talks about his move from the avante garde to romanticism in the 1970s, his Catholic faith, Polish politics – and the 1700 trees he has planted at his home near Krakow.
Hear Penderecki’s Sextet from the ‘Sounds New Festival’ on BBC Radio 3 Hear and Now, Saturday 20 June.
Penderecki’s First Symphony was commissioned by Peterborough based firm Perkins Engines in the 1970s. Whilst the majority of new commissions since the Second World War have come directly or indirectly from the Arts Council or the BBC, it is little known that companies in the corporate sector have also played a role in bringing new works by contemporary composers to the stage.
Petroc discusses the business benefits of commissioning music with Ed McKeon from the newly formed Sound and Music and Colin Tweedy, Chief Executive of Arts and Business. With contributions from John Lewis’s Music Director Manvindar Rattan and Nicky Bennett of savings and wealth management company Old Mutual.
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