Cleveland Orchestra Celebrates 102nd Season

Cleveland Orchestra

Cleveland Orchestra

You do not want to miss out on The Cleveland Orchestra’s 102nd season In the course of 26 weeks they will have 76 concerts including 15 different conductors, 28 soloists, and 8 guest artists.

This year’s theme will explore music and art that was banned, marginalized, and destroyed during the Nazi’s Degenerate Art movement, as well as analyze the continuing impact of censorship on creative expression in society today. To complement the theme the festival's focus will remain on Alban Berg’s Lulu, considered to be one of the most influential operas in the 20th century who will be partner programming with local notable arts institutions.

The story behind the groundbreaking opera Lulu is intense and heartbreaking it's about victimization and oppression centers on the title character of Lulu: a Viennese woman whose life runs a dramatic course through marriage, adultery, incest, violence, destitution, prostitution, fame, and murder. This took place when Hitler was attaining power; therefore, it was concluded that it was best to not present the production of the operas first two acts in Germany due to the political climate. This will be the first season they will be performing Lulu.

This year’s The Cleveland Orchestra’s season wants to unite the Ohio community more than ever through music. Music director Franz Welser-Möst will perform works which have been neglected in the past with eight guest artists that provide powerful education offerings.

The orchestra will also collaborate with art organizations across Northeast Ohio. For example, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland School of the Art, Cleveland Public Library and Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. These partnerships will form a city-wide festival to inspire reflection and dialogue around “Degenerate Art and Music” and the effects of weaponizing art today.

Franz Welser-Möst, Cleveland Orchestra Music Director: “The Cleveland Orchestra always tries to achieve the extraordinary. This pursuit brings joy to our work — and also makes this institution so alive.  We never rest on our laurels. We are pushing ourselves constantly. Together we will look at the relationship of art and politics in Berg’s lifetime — of how certain music in the 1920s and ‘30s was politically abandoned and prohibited. We are featuring works by Schulhoff, Krenek, and others — works that the Nazis labeled ‘Entartete Musik’ or Degenerate Music. It was a period of autocratic, authoritarian regimes who condemned any artistic expression outside of their narrow view with a heavy hand. Artists and their work were prohibited through censorship. Just as the character of Lulu is abused and abusive in her own way, we will look into how music and art can be abused by a system — and how a system can turn people on one another. These are important topics, not only from the past but in today’s world.”

The festival in May 2020 is designed for diving deeper into exploring the various ways in which music and composers primarily during the 1920s and ’30s were damaged by the prejudice, propaganda, censorship, political control, and hate that surrounded what became known as the “Degenerate Art and Music” movement. A term that refers to a movement that was instigated across Germany during the decade before the Second World War. The Nazi Party hosted exhibitions to inform the public of art and music that was believed to be harmful or decadent — due to Jewish, Communist, African American, Modernist, and other minority influences. For a week-long series, the audience will have the honor to listen to various banned works with the intentions to feel inspired introspection and discussion about the role music and art can play in contemporary society.

— Maria F. Sanchez