The Ukrainian composer Alexander Weprik was a musical child prodigy who received a professorship at the Moscow Conservatory at the age of 24. In the 1920s and 30s, he was one of the best-known Soviet composers on the international scene. Hermann Scherchen conducted his “Dances and Songs of the Ghetto” in Leipzig in 1927, and in 1933, Arturo Toscanini performed his work at New York’s Carnegie Hall. After the National Socialists seized power, Weprik all but disappeared from concert hall programmes in Germany on account of his Jewish background. In 1943, he and other Jewish professors at the Moscow Conservatory were dismissed without notice, and in 1950, under Stalin’s rule and with no explicit charges brought against him – was arrested and sentenced to eight years in the gulag. After his release, he only composed a few pieces before dying prematurely from the effects of his incarceration, and his music sank into oblivion.
To this day, Weprik’s symphonic works remain an undiscovered musical trove. Under the direction of Christoph-Mathias Mueller, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales has made the work by this influential and wrongly forgotten composer available to international audiences for years to come. In conjunction with the CD recording featuring a representative cross-section of Weprik’s oeuvre, the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media has organised an international symposium on the life and works of the artist, to which general theatre and music directors, dramaturges, musicologists and Eastern European Studies scholars had been invited. The project is documented by a bilingual publication in German and English.
Artistic director: Christoph-Mathias Mueller
Artists: Göttingen Symphony Orchester
CD label: Dabringhaus & Grimm
Speakers at the symposium: Jascha Nemtsov (RU), Olesya Bobrik (RU), Igor Vorobyov (RU), Wolfgang Mende, Christoph Flamm, Joachim Klein, Christoph-Mathias Mueller, Inna Klause (KZ)