Principiis Obsta - Resist The Beginnings

6th February, 2017
Four men in my family were executed by the Nazis. Hans von Dohnanyi, my father, honored in Yad Vashem, was killed in the Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen short before the Second World War ended. At the same time the world-renowned theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, brother of my mother, my godfather, was executed in the concentration camp Flossenbürg. In 1930 Bonhoeffer began his studies in New York City at the Union Theological Seminary and learned to love and admire the United States of America.

I know today he would be extremely unhappy observing a tendency of religious intolerance in the country he once admired so much for its freedom and acceptance. He never could have imagined that this strong, great nation would find itself in the political and ethical crisis it now faces. A nation’s heart may race when it feels threatened, fearful, or even terrified. But this heart, no matter how “devout”, should never tolerate walls nor turn away those seeking help. People died at the Berlin Wall. Many people died in Hitler’s concentration camps for their unwavering beliefs in the value of their ethics and in their fellow man. These beliefs are now endangered in many Western nations including, sadly enough, the USA. This is unimaginable.

Also unimaginable, for instance: I should have a U.S. visa and move through passport control without incident. Next to me another musician would have the same kind of visa. He would be detained because he is a Muslim from Iran. He would be sent back after hours of interrogation. But Christians would be excepted from these new regulations. (By the way, Bonhoeffer - a fervent and prominent supporter of ecumenical Christianity - would have strongly opposed that.) Rising walls will unfortunately keep many talented, well educated and good people away from travelling to the U.S. this might be sad. But by far more relevant remains the question, whether walls will make anybody safer. We all know, fear and aggression produce nothing but fear and aggression.

What kind of world are we living in? A world of “Texas first!”, “California first!”, Asia, Africa, America, Europe or Australia “first!”? Or do we live in a world that puts human dignity, humanity, fearlessness and compassion above everything else? In it's great days our much-loved USA was such a country.

There is hope that the current political turmoil in the U.S. will, in fact, harm the extreme-rightwing parties in some upcoming, important European elections.

Christoph von Dohnányi on Schubert 9

15th June, 2016
“Now well into his ninth decade (and his seventh on the podium), the indomitable German conductor Christoph von Dohnányi is showing no signs of slowing down, with a busy international schedule that encompasses some of the most physically and mentally demanding works in the core repertoire as well as a significant amount of new music.

Tomorrow sees Signum’s release of a live recording of Schubert Nine with the Philharmonia Orchestra, with whom he’s enjoyed a close relationship for the past twenty years (he was appointed their Honorary Conductor for Life in 2008); reviewing the performance at the Festival Hall last June, The Guardian observed that ‘[Dohnányi’s] ability to energise a score and keep it light on its feet remains entirely undiminished’. This vitality (not to mention a disarming modesty and dry wit!) was very much in evidence when I called him in Hamburg recently to explore the evolution of his thoughts on Schubert, his attitude towards historically-informed performance, and his plans for the future…”

Read Catherine Cooper’s full interview for Presto Classical here


HARDLY SIMPLER OR MORE MOVING: NY TIMES REVIEWS DEUTSCHES REQUIEM

4th March 2016
From 3 – 8 March, Christoph von Dohnányi conducted a series of performances of Brahms’s German Requiem. James R. Oestreich’s reviewed for the New York Times:

                   The New York Philharmonic performing Brahms’s “A German Requiem” at
                   David Geffen Hall on Thursday night. Credit Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times.

BRUCKNER 9 CLASSICAL SOURCE REVIEW

3rd January 2016

“Christoph von Dohnányi inspires the Philharmonia Orchestra to a performance of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony that is at once rigorous and thought-through and also dynamic, flexible and loaded with deeply-felt sentiment, a visionary if unfinished musical journey for the composer”

Colin Anderson reviews Christoph von Dohnányi’s recording of Bruckner’s 9th with the Philharmonia Orchestra at last year’s Salzburg Festival, you can read the full review here.


PHILHARMONIA AT 70: TOM SERVICE TALKS TO CHRISTOPH VON DOHNÁNYI

16th December 2015
On the occasion of its 70th birthday, the Philharmonia Orchestra is thrilled to share this special interview between Maestro Christoph von Dohnányi, the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Honorary Conductor for Life, and writer and broadcaster, Tom Service. They delve deep into the role of the conductor and Maestro Dohnányi’s particular approach, and explore what makes the Philharmonia Orchestra unique.

BOSTON GLOBE REVIEW

16th November, 2015
“One hopes that the years bring new depths of insight for all conductors, but it’s not every maestro who also sustains his inquisitive, exploratory energies well into his ninth decade….”

Read Jeremy Eichler’s review of Christoph von Dohnányi’s concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra this weekend here.

CLASSICAL SOURCE REVIEW

29th June, 2015
“…Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (a Philharmonia staple since the days of Karajan and Klemperer) maybe a work with which it is more or less impossible to fail, but there is a world of difference between the competent and what we heard here, which was an unobtrusive masterclass of the conductor’s art…”

“…What was perhaps most remarkable about Dohnányi and the Philharmonia was hearing a familiar work anew as though it were being freshly explored with an unflagging and ferocious energy and concentration…”

Read Douglas Cooksey’s full review in Classical Source here.

CHRISTOPH VON DOHNÁNYI DISCUSSES HIS CAREER IN OPERA

29th August, 2015
As part of the Christoph von Dohnányi @85 celebrations in the 2014/15 season, Christoph von Dohnányi joins Tom Service, Nicholas Payne (Director Opera Europa) and Peter Katona (Director of casting, Royal Opera House Covent Garden) at the Royal Academy of Music to reflect on his memorable career in the theatre:


BRUCKNER SYMPHONY NO. 9 LIVE FROM THE SALZBURG FESTIVAL

28th August, 2015
In August 2014, Christoph von Dohnányi and the Philharmonia Orchestra were invited to the Salzburg Festival. Christoph von Dohnányi chose for that occasion a programme of works by Strauss and Bruckner. The live recording of Bruckner’s symphony No. 9 is out today on Signum Records.