The bassoons. Wide-spaced strokes of the timpani. The double-bass. Now, the strings. Waves. The flutes. Something is gliding through the water, breaking through the surface, ripples, moonlight, grace – a mermaid. In 1902/03, Alexander von Zemlinsky, a Viennese composer, wrote the wonderful symphonic poem “The Mermaid” that I want to present today. Zemlinsky was an early talent: At the age of 12, he attended already the conservatory of the Viennese Gesellschaft der Musikfreude*. He studied piano and composition and was being mentored by both Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler.
Schönberg. Schönberg was the composer who managed to keep me away from contemporary classical music for decades. A concert in Weimar (Germany) that went wrong, at least in my ears. The prejudice, that Schönberg is not for me. The extrapolation that contemporary classical music is nothing for me. It’s all history by now.