The spirit of Europe has its roots in antiquity and ever since then the name of our continent has been associated with the mythological figure of Europa. According to the legend, she was the daughter of a Phoenician king, living on the Mediterranean coast of what is now Lebanon. Zeus, father of the gods, fell in love with the beautiful woman and kidnapped her to Crete disguised as a bull. Once there, Zeus and Europa had three children, one of whom was Minos, who went on to be the ruler of the island, while his mother gave the entire continent its name. One of the most important ideas that was brought into the world in connection with the »Myth of Europe« is without doubt that of democracy. When it comes to the emergence of a European cultural identity, the arts and especially music played a central role from the late Middle Ages. Under the title »Myth of Europe - Sounds of Europe«, the festival decided in 2021 to shed a musical light on a neighbouring country every year. The first year the choice fell on Belgium, this year the focus is on the Netherlands.
The Netherlands came into being as a state on 26 July 1581, when seven United Provinces, led by William of Orange, declared their independence from the Spanish Habsburgs. But its actual birthday is 15 May 1648, when this independence was officially recognised in the Peace of Westphalia. The work of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, the organist at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam for a total of 44 years, stems from the time between. He was a great influence on the North German organ school of the 17th century. Among the students of the »maker of German organists« were Andreas Düben, Jacob Praetorius, Heinrich Scheidemann and Samuel Scheidt – composers who, alongside their master, have been on the programme of the Musikfest’s Arp-Schnitger-Festival for years now. Closely linked to the importance of its historical organs, of which no other country has as many as the Netherlands, is the development of historically informed performance. Back in 1989, the first Musikfest already hosted two Dutch pioneers of the early music scene in Bremen: Gustav Leonhardt and Frans Brüggen.
But the focus is not only on the past, it also turns to current representatives of Dutch musical life. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra played the opening concert at the second Musikfest. Since then, the renowned ensemble has appeared at the festival three more times, and the chamber ensemble formed from its ranks, the Camerata RCO, is now making its debut at the opening night. On the same evening, the Netherlands Bach Society, which has devoted itself to works by the Bach family for over 100 years, will make its festival debut.
Sat 20 Aug / from 7 pm (Rathaus and St. Petri Dom, Bremen)
In the following festival weeks, these other artists from our neighbouring country will be our guests:
Dutch soil has always been particularly recorder-friendly, as can be seen in the 23-years-young Lucie Horsch, following in the footsteps of Frans Brüggen and Paul Leenhouts. Trained at the Sweelinck Academie in Amsterdam, she is already one of the most successful and well-known recorder players in the world.
Sat 27 Aug / 6 pm (Museumsdorf Cloppenburg)
The Orchestra of the 18th Century, founded by Frans Brüggen in 1981, has visited the city on the Weser five times since 1999. It comes together several times a year to go on tour with a project - of course with period instruments or contemporary copies.
Tue Aug 30 / 8 pm (Die Glocke, Bremen)
The pianist Rembrandt Frerichs comes from the world of jazz. However, his interest in the sound of early music and oriental instruments brought him to the fortepiano - and he formed a baroque jazz trio. Together with Kayhan Kalhor, master of the Persian kamancheh, the Rembrandt Trio embarks on a musical journey that transcends boundaries.
Wed 31 Aug / 9 pm (BLG Forum Überseestadt, Bremen)