Fleeing persecution and war in Europe, numerous world-class artists such as Arnold Schönberg, Thomas Mann and Otto Klemperer left Germany for California in the 1930s and 1940s. Igor Stravinsky arrived in 1939. At that time, the film metropolis Los Angeles lacked notable chamber music concerts or performances of the contemporary avant-garde. This gap was filled by a private initiative that quickly became legendary: “Evenings on the Roof”, a concert series from April 1939 to November 1941 that actually took place on a roof before becoming too popular for that – of a modernist studio, an expansion of the modest bungalow owned by music enthusiast Peter Yates and his wife, pianist Frances Mullen. Their aim was “to balance the classical and the modern, provide a platform for well-known artists and new talents, and create a community of composers, musicians and audiences in an environment marked by possibilities and anticipation”. From 1942, Stravinsky was also included in the programme and soon enjoyed the evenings as an audience member himself.
Our two 360° Stravinsky concerts as part of “Absolut Strawinsky!”, in which the audience sits around the performers and thus very close to the music, are a tribute to “Evenings on the Roof”, their atmosphere of openness and musicianship – and the “American” Stravinsky. Russian-German writer and columnist Vladimir Kaminer will lead guests through the evenings, while the Ensemble Avangarde will get the music series underway on 8 March with short pieces by Stravinsky, Schönberg, Copland and Boulez.
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