Nono's political testament

Luigi Nono:
Il Canto Sospeso e.a.

Luigi Nono: Trilogiy of the Sublime

SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, Ingo Metzmacher, Experimentalstudio des SWR, Cappella Amsterdam

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More than anyone, Nono managed to combine the political and the personal in his music. The most famous example is his early masterpiece Il canto sospeso (1955-1956). The text Nono used for this cantata for soloists, choir and orchestra consists of farewell letters from political prisoners written shortly before their executions. Nono focused on the emotional impact rather than the texts being literally audible: the content of the letters was completely internalized in a musical piece with great expressiveness and sensibility.

Como una ola de fuerza y luz is a political work which Nono dedicated to the young Chilean revolutionary leader Luciano Cruz, who died in 1971 under suspect circumstances. It's an intense requiem for piano, soprano, orchestra and sound tape, which in the space of 30 minutes takes us through all stages from inner calm to wild ferocity.
Programme Icoon


Luigi Nono
Ingo Metzmacher
sound direction
André Richard
Caroline Stein
Els Janssens-Vanmunster
Matthias Klink
Jean-Frédéric Neuburger
Irvine Arditti
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg
Experimentalstudio des SWR
Cappella Amsterdam (chorus master: Daniel Reuss)
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg
Experimentalstudio des SWR

Background information

In 2014 it will have been 90 years since the Italian Luigi Nono (1924-1990) was born. He was one of the greatest European composers of his time. Almost a quarter of a century after his death, his music is seldom performed. Having organised similar projects dedicated to the music of Varèse (2009), Xenakis (2011) and Cage (2012), this year the Holland Festival honours Luigi Nono with a mini festival featuring, over the course of a long weekend, highlights from his extensive and varied body of work. As well as three full-scale concerts, there will also be an intimate late-night performance of La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura, a two-day conference entitled “… Hay que caminar …” - Luigi Nono’s musical paths between politics and art, and the exhibition Luigi Nono 1924–1990 - Maestro di suoni e silenzi, which will be accompanying the concerts held at the Gashouder. This year's annual free concerts in the underpass of the Rijksmuseum by conservatory students will be fully dedicated to Nono's music. Musical direction for the three central concerts at the Gashouder will be in the hands of the conductor and Nono expert Ingo Metzmacher. A very special highlight will be the contribution made by the Swiss composer, conductor and sound engineer André Richard, who worked in close collaboration with Nono for years and who gave his name to one of Nono's compositions, entitled André Richard.

One of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde, Nono, together with contemporaries such as Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen, for years spearheaded the New Music movement. He also married Nuria Schönberg, daughter of Arnold Schönberg, the founder of twelve tone music. Still, the historical inevitability of serialism as advocated by the avant-garde, was never sufficient for Nono. Viewing music as a system which was not self-contained, Nono wanted his music to be open to the world from the start, looking for ways to change political consciousness through sound. To Nono, radical music could never stand on its own, but is always the inevitable outcome of radical, political ideas.

Day two of Luigi Nono: trilogy of the sublime will be dedicated to a number of compositions which explicitly convey a revolutionary message. The text Nono used for his early masterpiece Il canto sospeso (1955-1956) consists of farewell letters from political prisoners written shortly before their executions. Although Il canto sospeso was composed according to the guiding principles of serialism, the layered harnonies of choir and orchestra express not only an uncompromising solidity, but also an almost sensual beauty. Dry is definitely not the operative word here.

Nono started composing Como una ola de fuerza y luz (1971-72) as a piano concerto for Maurizio Pollini, but the death of the young Chilean revolutionary leader Luciano Cruz, whom he knew, changed his concept of this work. Composed for soprano, piano, orchestra and tape, Como una ola is an exceptionally intense requiem or lamentation for a friend and kindred spirit, which in the space of 30 minutes takes the audience through all stages from inner calm to wild ferocity. The composer's involvement with the revolutionary cause and the death of his comrade can be felt in every note; here, politics and private life are one and the same. Between these two major works, the relatively short electronic composition Non consumiamo Marx will be performed.
Unlike the other concerts, in which all of the space surrounding the auditorium will be used for the performance, on this day the performance space for the concert is restricted to the front stage. The Saturday concert will be concluded by a late night performance of La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura by Irvine Arditti and André Richard.


Luigi Nonos opera Moses und Arons daughter Nuria, whom he married in 1953. Nono joined the Communist Party in 1952 and a great many of his works have a political charge. As of 1960, he taught in Poland and the Soviet Union, among other places.
As his career progressed, he became increasingly interested in electronic music. Along with Boulez and Stockhausen, Nono is considered one of the most important representatives of the Darmstadt School, but unlike his two colleagues, he always took a great deal of freedom in applying the principles of serialism.

Ingo Metzmacher studied the piano, music theory and conducting in his home town of Hannover as well as in Salzburg and Cologne. The initial stages of his professional career took him first to Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt, then to the Frankfurt Opera under Michael Gielen. His international career began in 1988 at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels during the Mortier era.
In 1997 he was appointed general music director of the Hamburg State Opera, where he conducted numerous internationally acclaimed performances during his eight-year tenure. He then became principal conductor of De Nederlandse Opera (Dutch National Opera) and, from 2007 to 2010, principal conductor and artistic director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
Highlights of recent years have included his performances at the Salzburg Festival (including a performance of Nono's Prometeo), as well as at the Vienna State Opera, London’s Royal Opera House, the Zurich Opera and the Berlin State Opera (performing Nono’s Al gran sole carico d’amore). He has also conducted concerts with leading orchestras that have included the Vienna, Berlin and Munich Philharmonics, the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
2014 season is a new production of Wagner's Ring Cycle in Geneva. Das Rheingold opened in March 2013 and will be followed by Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung and in May 2014 by two complete cycles. He is also continuing to work closely with the New Japan Philharmonic, the Czech Philharmonic, the Bamberg and Vienna Symphony Orchestras and the Orchestre de Paris. At the Holland Festival Metzmacher was the musical director for Dionysos (2011), Lulu and Wozzeck (both in 2005).

André Richard is a Swiss conductor, composer and performer of live electronic music. He studied singing, music theory and composition in Geneva, and later with Klaus Huber and Brian Ferneyhough in Freiburg. He advanced his studies in electronic music with Hans Peter Haller at the SWR Experimental Studios in Freiburg and at IRCAM in Paris. His works have been performed at international music festivals in Budapest, Frankfurt, Oslo, Essen and many more. As well as teaching in Geneva and Freiburg he was also for a long time the Head of the Freiburg Institute for New Music and the organiser of the concert series Horizonte. From 1984 until 2005 he was artistic leader of the Freiburg Solo Choir. In the 1980's Richard collaborated closely with Luigi Nono as a conductor and sound director on the performances of his later works. As a conductor Richard has performed at international festivals such as the Salzburger Festspiele, the Festival d’Avignon and the Holland Festival. From 1989 to 2005 he was the artistic director of the Experimentalstudio of the SWR's Heinrich-Strobel Foundation.
For the Salzburg Festival Richard has contributed to a great many legendary performances, including Nono's Prometeo in 1993, for which he realised the spatial sound concept and acted as sound director.
Later productions he was artistically involved in were Lachenmann's Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern (2002) and two works by Stockhausen. With Irvine Arditti he opened the Venice Biennial in October 2013 performing Sockhausen's Helikopter-Streichquartett, In the course of his career Richard has received many prizes.

The lyric coloratura soprano Caroline Stein has made a name for herself through both her comprehensive repertoire of traditional opera, as well as through performances of works by contemporary composers such as Ligeti, Henze, Rihm, and Dusapin. She has worked with many distinguished conductors, among them Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, Jonathan Nott and Sir Colin Davis.
Born in Königsstein/Taunus, Caroline Stein studied in Claudio Nicolai's master class in Cologne. She has performed at the State Opera Berlin, San Francisco Opera, Semperoper Dresden, Bavarian State Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Vlaamse Opera and the Opéra de Québec.
At the Bayreuth Festival, she gave her debuts as the first Flower-maiden in Wagner’s Parsifal and as Woglinde in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Further performances in the role of the Flower-maiden took her to the BBC Proms.
Since 2007, she has been collaborating with the choreographer Sasha Waltz in Dusapin's one-woman opera Medea (Holland Festival 2009), performing different versions of the work.
Caroline Stein also made a name for herself in the oratorio field, working with ensembles like the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
In 2013 she sang in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung under the baton of Philippe Jordan and in the staging of Günter Krämer at the Opéra Bastille. Since October 2012, Caroline Stein has been teaching as a professor at the Conservatory in Lübeck.

After getting her certificate in speech therapy, the Belgian mezzo-soprano Els Janssens-Vanmunster studied jazz before training as a classical singer with Gréta De Reyghere at the Royal Conservatory of Liège. She went on to specialise in early music (Renaissance and Baroque) with Guillemette Laurens at the Conservatoire National de Région de Toulouse, in France, and in mediaeval music at the Swiss Scola Cantorum Basiliensis with Kathleen Dineen, Crawford Young, Dominique Vellard and Nicoletta Gossen. The mezzo-soprano is at home in a broad and versatile repertoire that includes oratorios, Renaissance polyphony, Baroque cantatas, mediaeval songs, chamber music, opera and contemporary creations, always with a focus on text awareness and impeccable diction. Contemporary music soon began to occupy an important place in her activities, and contemporary composers like Thierry Pécou, Boris Yoffe, Klaus Huber, Sophie Lacaze and Pierre-Adrien Charpy have had the pleasure of working with her for some years already. This is demonstrated in various recordings with Klara, Ramée and SWR, for example. Els Janssens-Vanmunster sings with internationally renowned and specialised ensembles from Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and France, and is the leader of the French group of female solo voices, Mora Vocis, which specialises in both mediaeval and contemporary music. She teaches ‘Présences scéniques’ at the University of Montpellier, in France, and regularly gives masterclasses in singing and interpreting early and contemporary music. She travels the world to music events like the Festival of Flanders, the Festival of Wallonia, Music before 1800, Early Music Vancouver, the Boston Early Music Festival and the early music festivals in Utrecht, Ambronay, Royaumont and Montalbâne.

The German tenor Matthias Klink (1969) studied at the Academy of Music in the city of his birth, Stuttgart, under Luisa Bosabalian and Carl Davis, and at the Indiana School of Music in Bloomington, USA. Since 1995, he has been a member of the Opernstudio, Cologne Opera. He has had guest roles at the Staatsoper Hamburg, the Teatro Real Madrid, La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and with opera houses in Berlin, Barcelona and other cities. The production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio directed by Hans Neuenfels at the Stuttgart State Opera brought him international fame, as did the roles of Belmonte (The Abduction from the Seraglio) and Tamino (Mozart’s The Magic Flute). Other roles he has sung include those of Don José in Bizet’s Carmen, Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata and Jim Mahoney in Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahoganny.  
At the Festspiele in Schwetzingen, in the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, at the Ruhrtriennale and at the Festival of Aix-en-Provence, he has worked under conductors such as Christoph von Dohnányi, Thomas Hengelbrock, Marc Minkowski and James Conlon. Matthias Klink made his Salzburger debut in 1999 with Berio’s Cronaca del Luogo. He booked huge success with his performance at the Salzburger Festspiele in 2010 in the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Dionysos conducted by Ingo Metzmacher and directed by Pierre Audi (Holland Festival 2011).
In addition to his activities as an opera singer, Matthias Klink can also be found on the concert stage; he has performed at the Avery Fisher Hall in New York, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and the Philharmonic in Cologne, among other places.

Born in Paris, Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, received an intense and varied musical education in piano, composition and organ before joining the Paris Conservatoire, from which he graduated with five ‘premiers prix’ in 2005. Following his success at the 2004 Long-Thibaud Competition, Neuburger quickly became in demand as an interpreter known for the extreme variety of his repertoire from Bach to composers of the twenty-first century.
Neuburger performs with the world’s most prestigious orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris – with which he toured Asia in 2013 –, NHK Symphony Orchestra and works with conductors such as Maazel, Tilson Thomas, Jonathan Nott, Osmo Vanska, Ingo Metzmacher and Pierre Boulez. Neuburger performs at leading international festivals (Verbier, Lucerne, La Roque d'Anthéron, Saratoga, La Jolla Music Society) and as a chamber musician, performs with the leading musicians of his generation. In 2014 the Auditorium du Louvre dedicated a series of seven concerts entitled Jean-Frédéric Neuburger and Friends featuring him as a performer and composer.
Recipient in 2010 of the Nadia and Lili Boulanger Prize by the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Neuburger is regularly commissioned as a composer. He is published by Durand, France. Neuburger’s recordings have received great acclaim: the 2008 Live at Suntory Hall CD received a ‘Choc’ in Le Monde de la Musique and his recording of the piano concerti by Ferdinand Hérold received the Choc in Classica Magazine. His most recent CD (Ravel solo pieces) was released in October 2013.
Since 2009, Neuburger has taught the renowned Classe d’Accompagnement at the Paris Conservatoire.

The SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg Symphony Orchestra always makes room for new movements, guests and pieces of music – in their own hometowns, as well as in cities like Berlin, Lucerne and Madrid. Conducted by François-Xavier Roth, the orchestra toured Japan in 2012 with great success. The starting signal for Roth’s appointment as principal conductor was given at the final concert of the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2011. Since the foundation of the Donaueschinger Musiktage in 1950, this event has been inextricably linked to the SWR Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra has premiered around four hundred compositions at the event, and the musicians have written music history with works by composers like Hans Werner Henze, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Helmut Lachenmann and Wolfgang Rihm. But the orchestra does not only focus on contemporary music. Its repertoire includes over six hundred works spanning three centuries. The SWR Symphony Orchestra has worked with international conductors and soloists ever since its foundation in 1946. The driving forces behind the orchestra’s various activities have been, and still are the remarkable principal conductors Hans Rosbaud, Ernest Bour, Michael Gielen and Sylvain Cambreling. They have led and formed an orchestra that, through sixty years of exceptional challenges, has achieved a flexibility seldom seen anywhere else. These exceptional challenges include numerous projects for children and young people. The summer of 2013 revolved around a music theatre production that formed the closing highlight of a three-year collaboration with three schools in Freiburg. For its services to ‘a lively contemporary music culture’, the SWR Symphony Orchestra was awarded the Ehrenpreis 2013 der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. The orchestra also received the award for ‘the best concert programme of 2013/2014’ from the Deutscher Musikverlegerverband.

The Experimentalstudio of the SWR (Southwest Radio) in Freiburg was founded in 1971, and in the meantime it has become so famous that it would be impossible to imagine the contemporary music scene without it. The aim of the studio is to unite art and technology in a continual interplay, with electronic compositions been realized by the collaborative efforts of composers and technicians. The Experimentalstudio is therefore fully manned by a permanent team of technical specialists, while the Heinrich Strobel Foundation offers grants to composers who want to either broaden their artistic and technological horizons in general or work on a compositional project in particular.
The Experimentalstudio has its own ensemble, which regularly gives concerts in major festivals like those of Berlin, Vienna and Salzburg, the Festival d’Automne in Paris and the Venice Biennale and in famous music theatres like the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Carnegie Hall in New York and De Munt in Brussels.
Pioneering works in the history of electronic music have been realized in the Experimentalstudio by composers like Boulez, Stockhausen, Ferneyhough, Globokar and Nono. A younger generation of composers is represented by Mark Andre, Chaya Czernowin, José María Sánchez-Verdú, Johannes Maria Staud, among others. Musicians who have worked at length in the Experimentalstudio include Maurizio Pollini, Claudio Abbado, Gidon Kremer, Irvine Arditti and Roberto Fabbriciani. In 1999, a box of CDs was published in honour of the Experimentalstudio’s 25th anniversary, providing an overview of the most important works, old and new, that have been realized there.

The chamber choir Cappella Amsterdam achieves its special homogenous consonance with an extraordinary versatility. Since 1990, the choir has been under the artistic leadership of chief conductor Daniel Reuss. Founded in 1970 by Jan Boeke, the guiding principle of Cappella Amsterdam has always been the love of music. In order to make each composition come alive, the choir concentrates on both modern and early, authentic vocal techniques. The emphasis in the repertoire is on these two extremes: old masters and modern music. The choir devotes special attention to Dutch composers, ranging from Sweelinck to Andriessen and Ton de Leeuw.
Composers such as Robert Heppener and Jan van Vlijmen have written various works especially for Cappella Amsterdam. The choir works regularly with a number of different of groups, also from other disciplines. Cappella Amsterdam has often participated in opera productions, for example, such as in 2011 in Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Sonntag aus Licht with the Opera of Cologne, and Wolfgang Rihm’s Dionysos during the Holland Festival in 2010. Besides collaborating with major Dutch ensembles and orchestras such as the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Asko|Schönberg, the choir works with top-notch international companies such as the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, the RIAS Kammerchor, musikFabrik, Il Gardellino and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
In order to share knowledge, repertoire and experience, Cappella Amsterdam co- initiated Tenso, the European network of professional chamber choirs. Each year, Harmonia mundi releases CDs recorded by the choir. A recording of Golgotha by Frank Martin that appeared in 2010 was nominated for a Grammy that same year. The most recent CD, with choral works by Leoš Janáček (January 2012), was very well received internationally. In 2009, Cappella Amsterdam received the VSCD Classical Music Award for the most impressive achievement by a small (chamber music) ensemble. In 2010, the choir was nominated for the Amsterdam Award for the Arts and for the Edison Classical Music Audience Award.

This performance was made possible with support by