Schubert's famous song cycle with video projections by one of the most original artists of our time


William Kentridge, Matthias Goerne, Markus Hinterhäuser

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24 songs, 24 films. The South-African artist William Kentridge, audience favourite at the festival in 2012, lends Franz Schubert’s monumental song cycle Winterreise a new dimension with his specific brand of collages and charcoal animations. Schubert’s songs tell the story of a young poet who has been rejected by his love and wanders desolately through a wintry landscape at night. Like the songs, Kentridge’s work often expresses a mysterious sense of melancholy. His films serve as a poetic, visual counterpart to the interpretation by Matthias Goerne, one of the most famous contemporary singers of Schubert’s Lieder, and pianist Markus Hinterhäuser. ‘In the hope that picture and sound will combine to create new insights,’ as Kentridge explained.
Programme Icoon

´So wie Goerne Schubert singt, steht er derzeit auf einsamer Höhe.’

Frankfurter Rundschau


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Background information

Franz Schuberts Winterreise is one of the masterpieces in the history of music and a milestone in the development of the German Lied. The cycle is sung by the German baritone Matthias Goerne, of whom Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant wrote: 'Only a few singers have studied Franz Schubert's songs so extensively as Matthias Goerne.' Goerne will be accompanied by pianist Markus Hinterhäuser.

Schubert completed his song cycle Winterreise in 1827, a year before his untimely death. Schubert was 30 years old and at a very productive stage in his career, as if he had been set free by the death of the great Beethoven, who had dominated the musical life in Vienna for so long. He wrote to a friend after having finished the cycle: 'Please come to Schober today. I will sing you a cycle of harrowing songs. I'm very curious as to what you think of them. They have had a greater impact on me than any other songs I've written.' The Winterreise consists of 24 songs based on the dark, melancholic poems by Wilhelm Müller, a poet whose work Schubert had previously set to music in his Die schöne Müllerin.

With a complex psychological scope, the Winterreise tells the tale of a young man who has been rejected by the one he loves and starts to wander through a wintry landscape at night, leaving civilisation behind. The inert and desolate image of nature gives expression to the despair of the lost soul.

For this production of the Winterreise the great South-African artist William Kentridge created a visual journey of twenty-four videos featuring animations and collages which act as a poetic, visual counterpart to Matthias Goerne's and Markus Hinterhäuser's interpretation of Schuberts Lieder cycle. Kentridge's dynamically weightless and elegant animations and their subtle humour are only seemingly in contradiction to the melancholy of Franz Schubert’s Winterreise. The music becomes visible, the animated pictures become audible.

Wiliam Kentridge has been acquainted with Winterreise from a young age; his father used to play a recording by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore.

Kentridge first featured at the Holland Festival in 2010 with Telegrams from the Nose set to music by the French composer François Sarhan. In 2012 he returned with Refuse the hour, an opera playing with the notion of time. Kentridge is known throughout the world for his art and his work in opera – his directions have included Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and Monteverdi's Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria – but he's most famous for his drawings and animations. According to De Volkskrant: 'Whoever has seen his drawings before, will never forget them, not because of their story or their theme, but because of the style of his animations.

Kentridge's signature is defined by soft lines in charcoal, blurred at the edge, always in black with sometimes a little bit of red. In his animations he literally shows the genesis of his drawings. Instead of using keyframes and inbetween frames, which make for smooth transitions, he works within the keyframe itself with eraser and pencil, creating an effect which makes the movement seem less fluent and causes the viewer to be more aware that he's watching a series of images through time. The eraser marks reveal the past, that which has just been changed, to the viewer. In this way, he gives his animations a sense of fading memory or the passing of time; they grapple with what is not said, what remains suppressed but can easily be felt.


Born in 1967, the German baritone Matthias Goerne studied under Hans-Joachim Beyer, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Goerne is considered one of the great singers of our time, frequently performing at the most prominent festivals and venues, working with renowned orchestras, first class conductors and acclaimed pianists. Since his opera debut at the Salzburger Festspiele in 1997, Goerne has appeared on the world's principal opera stages, including the Royal Opera House in London, the Teatro Real in Madrid, Opéra National in Paris, the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, his roles ranging from Wolfram, Amfortas and Orest to the title roles in Berg's Wozzeck, Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, Hindemith's Mathis der Maler and Reimann's Lear.

Goerne’s artistry has been documented on numerous recordings, many of which have received prestigious awards. He has currently been engaged in recording a series of selected Schubert songs on 12 CDs for Harmonia Mundi, which he will complete over the course of the coming years.
From 2001 until 2005 Goerne lectured as honorary professor at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf. In 2001, he was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
In the 2013/14 season, Goerne has been returning to the major opera houses and concert halls in Europe, the United States, and Asia. He opened the season with a concert at the Musikfest Berlin, where he sang Lutoslawski’s Les espaces du sommeil with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, followed by a tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and several performances of Britten’s War Requiem with the London Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony.

Born in La Spezia in Italy in 1958, the Austrian pianist Markus Hinterhäuser studied piano at the Vienna Conservatory and at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, following masterclasses under Elisabeth Leonskaja and Oleg Maisenberg. Hinterhäuser has played in principal concert halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York, the Musikverein in Vienna and Milan's La Scala; he has performed at international festivals including the Paris Festival d'Automne, the Schubertiade in Hohenems, Wien Moderne, the Lucerne Festival and the Holland Festival. As a lied accompanist he has worked extensively with the mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender. In recent years Markus Hinterhäuser has concentrated on the interpretation of contemporary music, especially works by Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Feldman and György Ligeti.
Hinterhäuser has recorded for radio and television and has made CD recordings of the complete works of Schönberg, Berg and Webern as well as compositions by Feldman, Nono, Scelsi, Ustvolskaya and Cage. More recently Hinterhäuser collaborated with Christoph Marthaler, Johan Simons and Klaus Michael Grüber on a number of music theatre productions. Hinterhäuser was a co-founder of the Zeitfluss series that took place from 1993 to 2001 as part of the Salzburg Festival, and artistic director of the Zeit-Zone project at the Vienna Festival, which acquired him an international reputation in arts management. Having been artistic director of the Osterfestspiele Salzburg in 2011 and 2012, Hinterhäuser moved on to take the post of general director at the Wiener Festwochen. From 2017 he is to become the new intendant at the Salzburger Festspiele.

William Kentridge (1955) is an artist and theatre maker from South-Africa, whose work is permeated by political interest. In 1976 he graduated in Politics and African Studies at the University of Witwatersrand. Between 1976 and 1978 he studied at the Johannesburg Art Foundation, where he subsequently taught for two years. In 1981 and 1982 he studied mime and theatre at the École Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He was one of the founders of the Junction Avenue Theatre Company in Johannesburg. In 1989 he made his first animation, entitled Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City After Paris.

In 1992, Kentridge produced his first theatre project Woyzeck on the Highveld, a collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company. He directed a well-received production of Mozart's Magic Flute in BAM in 2007, for which he also designed the sets and costumes. In 2010 Kentridge played the Metropolitan Opera in New York with a radical vision of Dmitri Shostakovich's opera The Nose. Later that year the Holland Festival in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam presented a short, multimedia performance entitled Telegrams from the Nose. Since his participation at Documenta X in Kassel in 1997 Kentridge's work has been shown at (solo) exhibitions all over the world. Kentridge has received many prizes in his career, including the Carnegie Medal in 1999 and 2004, the prestigious Kyoto Prize in 2010 and the Dan David Prize of the University of Tel Aviv in 2012.


Lieder cycle by Franz Schubert
director and visual concept development
William Kentridge
stage design
William Kentridge, Sabine Theunissen
Greta Goiris
light design
Herman Sorgeloos
video editor
Snezana Marovic
video operator
Kim Gunning
Matthias Goerne
Markus Hinterhäuser
Aix-en-Provence Festival
Wiener Festwochen, KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen Hannover, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., Opéra de Lille, Holland Festival

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