Top Pick: Bratislava Music Festival pays homage to Bach

The most significant orchestra festival in Slovakia is set to turn Bratislava into a mecca of music from September 22 to October 6, for the 36th year in a row. As in previous years, when the musical scores of the festival reflected significant anniversaries in music history, this year will be no exception.
In commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach's death in 1750, most of the programme will be devoted to his works. Other works will celebrate various Slovak music composers. The aim of the festival is to present performances of foreign orchestras and soloists alongside the local symphonies here in Slovakia.


The Slovak Chamber Orchestra (above) will open the festival September 22 at Primaciálny Palac.

The most significant orchestra festival in Slovakia is set to turn Bratislava into a mecca of music from September 22 to October 6, for the 36th year in a row. As in previous years, when the musical scores of the festival reflected significant anniversaries in music history, this year will be no exception.

In commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach's death in 1750, most of the programme will be devoted to his works. Other works will celebrate various Slovak music composers. The aim of the festival is to present performances of foreign orchestras and soloists alongside the local symphonies here in Slovakia.

The ambition is to pay homage to Bach's compositions. His immortal concertos can be experienced through a stylish interpretation of Mass in B minor performed by Sächsches Kammerorchester from Leipzig. Many other works inspired by Bach will be presented by the English Oxford Chamber Orchestra and the vocal group Swingle Singers.

The grand opening of the festival is on Friday, September 22, with Slovak chamber orchestra Musica Aeterna led by the conductor's baton of Peter Zajíček. The Musica Aeterna focuses its repertoire on both local and international composers from the 17th and 18th centuries. Musicians will play copies of the original historic instruments.

Other significant events of the festival will be the European premiere performances of the compositions of Ernest Bloch, including "Israel" and "America", by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The closing concert - Schonberg's Gurrelieder for soloists, choir and orchestra - will wrap up the event. The festival presents works that were either too complicated to perform by amateur musicians or were banned for ideological reasons; the Gurrelieder satifies both of those conditions. Fully 250 musicians will grace the stage for Schonberg's moving work.

But the key to getting the most out of the festival - and its selection of Rachmaninov, Handel, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Stravinsky et al., is a programme, which is available wherever tickets are sold (see below) and all Bratislava Information Centres.

Tickets for performances can be bought in advance or at the door of the Music Centre box-office on Michalská 10, Mon-Fri from 13:00 to 17:00, tel. 5443 4558, or at the Slovak Philharmonic box-office on Palackého 2, Mon-Fri from 13:00 to 19:00 (except Wed) 8:00 to 14:00, tel. 5443 3351. Group bookings can be arranged at phone number 5443 0378. Ticket prices: 60 to 200 Sk per performance.

Zuzana Habšudová

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