There’s much about the Rocky Mountains that draws people — whether vacationers up for the beautiful vistas and thriving High Country culture, or locals so inspired they could live in no other place. If it means working three jobs to be here, so be it. What matters is the lifestyle.
Across the globe in Central Europe, the city of Vienna, Austria has long offered a similar draw. It is the land of “lebenskunst” or the “art of living,” where art is for the sake of art, and life itself is art.
Many of our greatest composers came from the Viennese school, including Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Von Suppé and Strauss — all of whom will be featured in the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra’s 2016 season, which kicks off Thursday, July 14 with “Evening in Vienna,” led by the Festival’s fiery new artistic director, David Danzmayr.
Danzmayr, who is from Austria and well trained in the Viennese tradition, came on board with the Breckenridge Music Festival (BMF) last year. He is sought after as a guest conductor by major orchestras around the world, including the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, whom he will lead in works by Beethoven at Boettcher Concert Hall Dec. 2-4.
In Breckenridge, Danzmayr has inspired a summer of music from Vienna, with masterworks by the great composers of the classical and romantic periods like Beethoven and Brahms, to pieces by more recent artists such as Schulhoff, who was among the first to embrace the rhythms of jazz music.
Works by Vienna-based composers was a natural choice. “I am Austrian, after all,” said Danzmayr. “The opportunity to bring a bit of myself to the programming is part of my enjoyment in choosing this theme.” But beyond that there’s the fact that “Vienna was a hub for great music at just the time when chamber orchestras were becoming a leading ensemble for public performances,” he explained. Thus many of the works were written specifically for chamber orchestras, which like the BMF Orchestra are smaller than traditional symphony orchestras.
Opening night on July 14 features guest soloists Steven Moeckel on violin and Mark Kosower on cello, performing a piece by Brahms with the BMF Orchestra.
“Our guest artists for the evening hail from America’s top orchestras,” said Tamara Nuzzaci Park, who came on board as executive director of the Breckenridge Music Festival this year.
The evening concludes with Beethoven’s “Pastorale” Symphony, which celebrates the natural beauty of the Austrian landscape.
At the July 21 concert, Danzmayr will conduct works by Grieg, Griffes, Mozart and Schubert, joined by his wife, Kathrin, as guest soprano for “Three Poems of Fiona Macleod” by Griffes.
“We are very pleased to have Kathrin back,” Park said. “She and David are part of the musical community we are building here — amongst our orchestra, and between the artists and the audience.”
To that end, Danzmayr recently signed on for a third season with the BMF Orchestra, confirming his commitment for the 2017 Festival as well.
On Aug. 5, the BMF welcomes Michael Christie, who served previously as music director of the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, to conduct “Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna,” featuring works by Haydn, Von Suppé, Beethoven and Strauss.
Closing night on Aug. 12 features “The Music of Change,” from Ravel’s response to the French Revolution and the dissonance and angst of Beethoven’s evolving sound to the Colorado premiere of contemporary American composer Missy Mazzoli’s “Violent, Violent Sea.” The concert is programmed and conducted by Steven Schick of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, who also joins as artistic partner for the BMF’s Festival at the Fringe series this year.
Several of the Tuesday night chamber concerts speak to the more intimate side of the Viennese school.
“The timelessness of the Viennese masterworks allows us to turn to this music in reflection of society across the centuries,” Park said. ‘Ultimately, it’s just beautiful music — music you want to hear again and again.”