Donaueschinger Musiktage 2021

Festival for New Music

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Project Description

The Donaueschinger Musiktage are celebrating their 100th anniversary. Established in 1921, the Donaueschingen Music Festival is the oldest festival of New Music in the world and the most highly acclaimed of its kind in Germany. Many famous composers of the 20th and 21st century have presented world premieres of their works at the event. Staged every year in October, the festival presents a broad overview of the musical avant-garde.

The review of the festival’s colourful history takes place primarily in the form of installations, publications and an exhibition, but also with performances of works that were of particular significance for the history of the Musiktage. Twenty-seven world premieres represent the look ahead, emphasizing the importance of the Musiktage as a festival of world premieres. Björn Gottstein is convinced: “One can only celebrate 100 years of Donaueschingen by presenting experiments, open-ended and ongoing works of art.”

Opening ceremony, chorus and orchestra

For the first time, the Donaueschinger Musiktage will last four full days this year, beginning on Thursday, 14 October, with an opening ceremony, accompanied musically by the Quatuor Diotima. Two compositions will be performed which span the years from 1921 to 2021: the first movement of Paul Hindemith’s Third String Quartet and a new work by Mikołaj Laskowski. During the opening concert following the ceremony, the SWR Vokalensemble, conducted by its chief conductor Yuval Weinberg, and the JACK Quartet will introduce a concert-length work for chorus and string quartet by Chaya Czernowin. On the same evening, the SWR Symphonieorchester, under Brad Lubman, will present the first of four orchestral concerts, with works by Annesley Black, Maja S. K. Ratkje and Beat Furrer. The two SWR ensembles will also perform together with IRCAM and the Chorwerk Ruhr during the closing concert, conducted by Sylvain Cambreling, in the world premiere of Francesco Filidei’s oratorio The Red Death. Two other large orchestras will appear for the first time as guests in Donaueschingen. The Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, under Ilan Volkov, will play works by Enno Poppe, Liza Lim, Stefan Prins and Misato Mochizuki. During the concert by the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra, conducted by Baldur Brönnimann, compositions by Milica Djordjević and Christian Mason will be heard, as well as the historic revival of Polyphonie X by Pierre Boulez, which caused a veritable scandal at its premiere in Donaueschingen in 1951. The third SWR ensemble, the SWR Experimentalstudio, will give the premiere of works by Hannes Seidl, Eivind Buene, Lisa Illean and Rebecca Saunders together with the Trio Accanto on Friday, 15 October.

Outdoor spectacle and music theatre

A genuine outdoor spectacle can be anticipated with the landscape composition DONAU / RAUSCHEN by Daniel Ott and Enrico Stolzenburg. It will make all of Donaueschingen resound and, along with musical groups from Donaueschingen, will also include ensembles from neighbouring Danube regions. Three music theatre productions await audiences at this year’s Musiktage: François Sarhan’s night music EPHÉMÈRE ENCHAINÉ sends concertgoers home early in the morning, Johannes Kreidler’s film score 20:21 Rhythms of History gives many otherwise neglected aspects of new music their due, and Pierre Jodlowski has composed a multidimensional, multimedia work, Alan T., which alternates between man, machine and society.

Jazz and sound art

In a NowJazz session with the duo LABOUR, dark, dystopian sounds are contrasted with the drama of traditional Persian melodies and poetry, and in the duo Thomas Lehn and Marcus Schmickler, a pianist and synthesizer player meet a computer musician and composer. Eight sound art installations can be experienced in Donaueschingen’s public spaces. All of them explore the history of the Musiktage and new music from various perspectives.

Donaueschingen global

Installations by Em’kal from Cameroon and the duo Pungwe from Namibia and Zimbabwe are part of “Donaueschingen global”, a research project initiated in 2019 to reflect on contemporary and experimental music in a non-European context. Four experts on global art music travelled to rural and urban regions of South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East during this project to study and discuss contemporary music outside of established networks and institutions. The results of their research will be presented at the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2021 in concerts, performances, discussions and lectures.

Exhibition, film, book

At seven different locations in Donaueschingen, the exhibition “1921–2021 – 100 Jahre Donaueschingen” recalls the many great moments and figures from the festival’s history. Curated by Markus Müller, it also poses questions about desiderata, omissions and the role of outsiders. “Ohren auf! – 100 Jahre Donaueschinger Musiktage” is the title of a 90-minute television documentary by Bettina Ehrhardt, which also examines the history of the Musiktage. It will be broadcast on SWR television at 11:15 pm on 11 November 2021. The book ‘Gegenwärtig’ – 100 Jahre Neue Musik. Die Donaueschinger Musiktage will be published by the Henschel Verlag, commissioned by the Society of Friends of Music Donaueschingen, Andreas Wilts and Friedemann Kawohl, and edited by Björn Gottstein and Michael Rebhahn. Finally, the City of Donaueschingen  will publish a catalogue of art posters from the Donaueschinger Musiktage.

Artistic Direction: Björn Gottstein


Donaueschinger Musiktage
Amt für Kultur, Tourismus und Marketing Donaueschingen

Karlstraße 58
78166 Donaueschingen (external link, opens in a new window)