The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has invited versatile music practitioner Dennis Wu to host eight "Journeys through Music" lectures during May and July.
Wu's lectures will feature eight Eastern European composers. By focusing on their lives and the historical contexts that shaped these composers, Wu will reveal how they came to leave such a recognisable and unique legacy in the classical music repertoire. A region of varied landscapes, rustic life and complicated history, Eastern Europe has nurtured some of the most energetic musicians in music history. Wu examines the innate musical culture of their respective countries, as well as the enormous influence of the central European musical tradition.
The lectures, to be conducted in Cantonese, will take place at 7.30pm in the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Space Museum. Dates and topics are as follows:
May 21 (Wednesday) Joseph Haydn
Haydn spent nearly three decades living in a castle among Hungary's rich and powerful nobility. The castle still stands today, some 350 kilometres southeast of Prague. The lecture gives a good background on why Eastern European composers remained influential in the next century.
May 28 (Wednesday) Fryderyk Chopin
In 1830, Chopin reluctantly left Warsaw (Poland) for Vienna (Austria) in search of better musical opportunities, never to return to his own country again. He often considered going back, but never materialised his dream. Consequently he remembered his homeland in the form of a stylised music that would be understood by Viennese. Torn between ideas and people, he is an icon of intimate and personal connections in this romantic era.
June 11 (Wednesday) Bedřich Smetana
Smetana said, "Prague did not wish to acknowledge me, so I left." He left for the Swedish town of GÖteburg, supposedly for good, but he returned to Prague in his 40s. On his return, the first thing he did, besides establishing his musical stature with conducting concerts and playing recitals, was to learn Czech and do exercises on Czech grammar. He was to have a great influence on the Czech musicians to come.
June 18 (Wednesday) Antonín Dvořák
Dvořák's musical talent enabled him to shed new light on sophisticated German forms, thus paving the way for his later international renown. With Dvořák, the word "international" came to mean most of Europe and that vast country across the Atlantic, the United States.
June 25 (Wednesday) Leoš Janáček
One of the most creative and eccentric composers of the late 19th century, Janáček finally rose to fame with the opera "Jenůfa", a grim work about a complex family. Audiences today remember his operas, his lovers and his puzzling music, which became even more well-known after featuring in Haruki Murakami's highly popular novel "1Q84".
July 2 (Wednesday) Karol Szymanowski
One of four composers of the Young Poland movement, Szymanowski sought a way of defining Poland musically. Turning away from early, light Chopinesque writings and heavy Germanic works, he tried to carve a way that would go beyond the simple inclusion of folk elements. The result is a unique world of sound, often considered mysterious and impressionistic.
July 9 (Wednesday) Bohuslav Martinů
Martinů grew up in Europe and later moved to New York. He found New York shocking as he was torn between the old and the new world. Nonetheless, it was in America he produced the symphonies that brought him fame, and it was also in America that he encountered a mysterious circumstance which shadowed him his whole life.
July 16 (Wednesday) Béla Bartók
Today Bartók is remembered as a composer of very sophisticated and innovative music, sometimes with a rustic energy and power. However, Bartók was also an ardent collector of peasant folk songs, which has made him a cornerstone of modern ethnomusicology. In Bartók's view, folk songs are living stories about little-known people often remote from the modern world.
Dennis Wu is an active music critic, composer and a specialist on a wide range of projects and productions. He is also a radio producer, an RTHK radio host, and a frequent speaker at pre-concert talks, meet-the-artist panels and music criticism seminars. His writings are widely published in newspapers and magazines.
Tickets for the "Journeys through Music" lecture series - Into Eastern Europe, priced at $50 for each lecture, are now available at URBTIX outlets, on the Internet and by credit card telephone booking. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minders, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (limited tickets for students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come, first-served basis). A maximum discount of 20 per cent is offered for group booking packages.
For enquiries on the talks, please call 2268 7321 or visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/Programme/en/music/program_529.html. Ticketing enquiries can be made on 3761 6661 and credit card telephone booking on 2111 5999. Tickets can also be booked online at www.urbtix.hk.
Ends/Monday, April 14, 2014
Issued at HKT 11:01