Composer Portrait: The Music of Walter Arlen
13th-17th May 2022

Programme

Walter Arlen  The Poet in Exile
Walter Arlen  The Song of Songs

English Symphony Orchestra
BBC National Chorus of Wales

Kenneth Woods, Conductor

Anna Huntley, Mezzo-Soprano
Gwilym Bowen, Tenor
Thomas Mole, Baritone

Trailer

Free public viewing 13th-17th May 2022, and thereafter available only to ESO Digital supporters.

About this Concert

Walter Arlen was born in Vienna in 1920. His family was dispossessed by the Nazi takeover in March 1938. While in war-effort jobs in Chicago, he studied with composer Leo Sowerby. In 1947, he became the assistant to composer Roy Harris and his wife, pianist Johanna Harris, as they accepted four year-long composer-in-residence positions at four universities, working with most US composers, conductors, and soloists. He was invited to join the Los Angeles Times as a music critic in 1952. In 1969, he founded the music department at Loyola Marymount University, and served as its chairperson and professor while continuing to write reviews until 1980. His compositions began to be performed and recorded in 2008.

Discover More

About the Music - The Poet in Exile (1991)
In my quest to find words suitable to my status as a refugee and a displaced person, I discovered the poetry of Czeslaw Milos, a Polis national, who asked for French asylum in 1951 while serving as a cultural attache in the Polish  Embassy in Paris.  He ended up in California (as I did) as Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.  As a self-styled refugee, he wrote his poems in Polish and at the same time in English, with assistance.  I found five of his poems that dealt with situations echoing my own remembrance of things past.
 
On his way to fame, he earned the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980.  For financing, transporting and hiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland, he received the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem, in Israel, in 1989.
About the Music - The Song of Songs (1955)
A dramatic poem for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.
 
Poetry began as part of Jewish faith.  There are the Psalms of David.  There is The Song of Songs.  Much of it has been incorporated into the prayer books of Judaism and into the Old Testament, and helped pave the way to Western culture and civilization.  There are no accepted explanations and interpretations of the origin and meaning of ThenSong of Songs, only speculation on its possible symbolism.  It all remains enigmatic to this day.  The poetry of the text deals with King Solomon, his harem, and a young shepherdess in love with a young shepherd.  The acceptance of this theatrical poem by the Christian church in 300 AD had no effect on its symbolism.  Thus, The Song of Songs, a series of poems by one or more ancient Jewish writers, tells a love story, with abrupt, dreamlike, fantastic, almost cinematic changes of scene, possibly intending to help establish the institution of monogamy as part of Western civilization’s moral code.  The beautiful young shepherdess will not join the harem of the king.  She looks forward to being the faithful wife of her beloved, Dodai.
Film - The Centennial of Walter Arlen

 

A Collage Film by Richard Haufe-Ahmels

 

Introduction by Dr. Claudia Gordon, Director Villa Aurora

 

Chapter 1: Walter Arlen and Vienna

 

Congratulations from Mag. Andreas Launer

Consul General of Austria, Los Angeles

 

Congratulations from Stephanus Domanig

Director of “The First Century of Walter Arlen”, Vienna

 

Congratulations from Prof. Dr. Gerold Gruber

Director exil.arte center, Vienna

 

Congratulations from Dr. Michael Haas

Senior Researcher exil.arte, Vienna

 

Chapter 2: The Composer Walter Arlen

Walter Arlen: Sonnett (1994)

Performed by Daniel Hope & Daniel Wnukowski

Chapter 3: The Critic Walter Arlen

 

Congratulations from Margit Kleinman

Former Director of Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House, Los Angeles

 

Congratulations from Barbara Zeisl-Schönberg and Ronald Schönberg

Children of  Composers Erich Zeisl and Arnold Schönberg

 

Congratulations from Matthew Mishory

Director of “Artur Schnabel: No Place of Exile”, Los Angeles

 

Chapter 4: The Discovery of the Composer Walter Arlen

 

Congratulations from Volker Ahmels

Director of the Centre for Ostracised Music, Rostock

 

 

Congratulations from Helmut Oehring

Composer, Villa Aurora Honorary Fellow (2020)

 

Congratulations from Stefan Schneider

Consul General of the Federal Republic of GermanyIntroduction by Dr. Claudia Gordon

Director Villa Aurora

 

Chapter 1: Walter Arlen and Vienna

 

Congratulations from Mag. Andreas Launer

Consul General of Austria, Los Angeles

 

Congratulations from Stephanus Domanig

Director of “The First Century of Walter Arlen”, Vienna

 

Congratulations from Prof. Dr. Gerold Gruber

Director exil.arte center, Vienna

 

Congratulations from Dr. Michael Haas

Senior Researcher exil.arte, Vienna

 

Chapter 2: The Composer Walter Arlen

Walter Arlen: Sonnett (1994)

Performed by Daniel Hope & Daniel Wnukowski

 

Chapter 3: The Critic Walter Arlen

 

Congratulations from Margit Kleinman

Former Director of Villa Aurora and Thomas Mann House, Los Angeles

 

Congratulations from Barbara Zeisl-Schönberg and Ronald Schönberg

Children of  Composers Erich Zeisl and Arnold Schönberg

 

Congratulations from Matthew Mishory

Director of “Artur Schnabel: No Place of Exile”, Los Angeles

 

Chapter 4: The Discovery of the Composer Walter Arlen

 

Congratulations from Volker Ahmels

Director of the Centre for Ostracised Music, Rostock

 

Congratulations from Sonja Bisgiel

Soprano, Berlin

 

Congratulations from Helmut Oehring

Composer, Villa Aurora Honorary Fellow (2020)

 

Congratulations from Stefan Schneider

Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany

 

Walter Arlen: Fragment from the Song of Songs, Preliminary

Performed by Christian Immler, Daniel Wnukowski

 

 

Used Footage:

The First Century of Walter Arlen (2018)

Artur Schnabel: No Placeof Exile (2019)

Archiv Richard Haufe-Ahmels (2018 & 2008/2009)

Photos by Sven Zellner (2019)

Sonnett und Song of Songs: Preliminary aus dem Album “Die letzte Blaue”, Gramola 2014.

 

At the request of Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e.V

 

Follow the Score - Song of Songs
Follow the Score - The Poet in Exile

Production Information

Recorded at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, 17th-20th February 2022

Executive Producer: Michael Haas
Producer: Phil Rowlands
Videographer: Tim Burton
Orchestra Manager: Simon Brittlebank / The Music Agency