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‘Journeys through Music’ Lecture Series ─ Into Germany (Speaker: Dennis Wu)

Venue Date & Time Price
Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Space Museum
10.7 – 28.8.2013, every Wed, 7:30pm, 8 lectures in total.$50
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Conducted in Cantonese

About the Speaker

Dennis Wu is an active music writer, composer and a specialist on a wide range of music projects and productions.  He is a radio producer, having produced and hosted numerous radio programmes on RTHK Radio 4, and a frequent speaker in pre-concert talks, meet-the-artist panels and music criticism seminars.  His writings are widely published on newspapers and magazines, including monthly articles on HiFi Review.  Recently he has curated a concert of Yu Kwang-chung’s Poetry in Music and performed in the series of concerts as a narrator.  He maintains an active online persona, mainly via his website www.denniswu.com.

About the Lectures

When people talk about Germany, some would think of her advanced automobiles; for some, complicated machineries; and for others, sophisticated music.  German music, with all its weight and richness, is sometimes as complex as an automobile and abstract as engineering equations.

Although it appears intellectual, German music is also known by its intense passion and emotion.  Great masters such as Bach and Beethoven, with their all-powerful music, cast a shadow of influence with their music over centuries.  It is this deeply affective music, with all its detailed design and structure, that makes German an important cultural centre of Europe and an attractive destination.

In this series of ‘Journeys through Music’, Dennis Wu will take you to a musical voyage to the land of great musicians.  We will listen to music of eight great German composers, discussing how eventful their lives were and how great their music is.  In an hour and a half, we shall experience the passion, the logic and the richness of German music.

Details of Lectures

10 July    Johann Sebastian Bach

Among all composers that we call ‘German composers’ nowadays, Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly the most German; he has never left the soil of what becomes Germany today.  His music, although primarily religious, has defined in detail how German music should sound in the next two centuries.  The talk discusses how he is rightly named ‘The Father of Music’.


17 July    Ludwig van Beethoven

He was a well-known supporter of Napoleon of France.  He was a revolutionist who defied court influence on music and brought music to the masses.  Ludwig van Beethoven was actually more complicated than that.  The talk reveals the struggle of the past and the future, of emotional persona and humanity ideals, and of harmony and drama in his music.


24 July    Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn was a genius.  In this regard, he is often unjustly eclipsed by Mozart.  He had a philosopher father, born to a high esteem family, and showed promising maturity in a very young age. In his not-too-long life, he was credited in perhaps one of the most important events in music history: reviving Bach’s music from obscurity.  We will walk through his brief but fascinating life.


31 July    Robert and Clara Schumann

Robert Schumann was a giant in nineteenth century German music scene.  Not only because he wrote great music, but his powerful criticism influenced a generation of composers.  Clara Schumann, herself an abled composer, was his ambassador, carrying his music around Europe to promote his ideals.  A perfect union, at least it appeared to be.  The talk will hear music by Schumanns, and discuss his influence on German composers.


7 August         Johannes Brahms

He loved German poetry, folklore and romantic novels, but he never wrote music over fantasy drama.  Johannes Brahms indirectly sparked the debate of what defines German music: should music be more transcendent in its own right and without words?  With music of unspoken words, Brahms put a troubled soul in full display.  The talk will try to look at the veiled man from his music and from what he allowed history to remember about him.


14 August       Franz Liszt and Antonín Dvořák

Franz Liszt often told his Hungarian root, albeit his mother tongue was German.  Antonín Dvořák struggled to learn German so that he could gain a fortune, which he finally succeeded when German publishers rushed to publish his works, after some hard time.  However, both would agree that they have to move away from German influence.  The talk discusses this otherness which defines a crucial era of nineteenth century German Romanticism.


21 August       Gustav Mahler

We may argue Gustav Mahler was marginal to make the ‘German composers’ list.  ‘A Bohemian born amongst Austrians, an Austrian amongst Germans, and a Jew throughout the world,’ he said he was three-times homeless.  The land was having a complex struggle over identity, his music was, in other ways, trying to answer questions that were larger than land and life.  The talk is a good chance to rethink what makes one a ‘German composer’.


28 August       Arnold Schoenberg

‘I have today made a discovery that will ensure the supremacy of German music for the next hundred years,’ claimed Arnold Schoenberg boldly.  He promptly invented a new way of writing music and argued further his legitimacy of inheriting from the great German tradition.  Let’s relive how he moved on from a likable Romanticist to an infamous modernist.


Tickets available from 10 June onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet and by Credit Card Telephone Booking.

Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (Limited tickets for full-time students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis).

Group Booking Discount

10% off for each purchase of 4-9 standard tickets; 15% off for 10-19 standard tickets; 20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.

Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount schemes for each purchase.  Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.

Lecture length

Running time of each lecture is about 1 hour 30 minutes.


Programme Enquiries: 2268 7321

Ticketing Enquiries: 2734 9009

Credit Card Telephone Booking: 2111 5999

Internet Booking: www.urbtix.hk

The contents of this programme do not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.  The presenter reserves the right to substitute speaker and change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.


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