MUSIC OF HUMANITY
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla makes Deutsche Grammophon debut with survey of major works by Mieczysław Weinberg in composer’s centenary year
- Acclaimed Lithuanian conductor launches her Yellow Label discography with Gidon Kremer, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Kremerata Baltica
- New album includes Mieczysław Weinberg’s Symphony No.21, dedicated to “the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto”
- Gražinytė-Tyla ranks Weinberg among last century’s “most important composers”
The Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla launches her new exclusive relationship with Deutsche Grammophon on 3 May 2019 with the release of an album devoted to Mieczysław Weinberg’s music. It showcases one of Weinberg’s earliest compositions, the Second Symphony for strings of 1946, and the Symphony No.21 “Kaddish”, completed in 1991, his haunting memorial to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. Kremerata Baltica perform Symphony No.2 and join the CBSO for No.21. The violin solos in the latter work are played by Gidon Kremer. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s music director since 2016, is convinced that listeners will be deeply affected by the composer’s works, which bear witness not only to the variety of his output but its consistently high artistic quality.
“In my opinion Weinberg’s definitely one of the most important composers of the twentieth century,” she observes. “We have an enormous amount of works by him. There are twenty-two symphonies, seventeen string quartets, seven operas, music for film and television, circus and theatre. Each of those works has an incredible ability to speak to performers, to listeners. One can only really judge after encountering those works or at least the majority of them, just how important he is as a composer.”
Echoing his own life experiences, much of Weinberg’s production reveals the influence of some of the most tragic moments in 20th-century history. Born to a Jewish family in Warsaw on 8 December 1919, Weinberg showed early musical talent as a pianist. He was forced to abandon his studies in 1939 when his country was invaded at first by the Nazis, then by Stalin’s Red Army. His mother, father and sister were murdered by the Nazis, while most of his extended family also perished in the Holocaust. He found temporary refuge in Belarus, then headed east to Tashkent when Hitler turned against the Soviet Union in 1941. Shostakovich, impressed by his younger contemporary’s First Symphony, invited him to Moscow in 1943. Weinberg lived there until his death 53 years later.
The Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer has played a central role in promoting the composer’s music. He launched the centenary celebrations this January on tour with his Kremerata Baltica ensemble, a chamber orchestra comprising outstanding young musicians from the Baltic states. When Kremer was appointed as the CBSO’s artist-in-residence for 2018-19, he and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla placed Weinberg at the heart of their programme plans. In an innovative but ultimately hugely successful move, they also decided to bring Kremerata Baltica to Birmingham last November to join forces with the CBSO for the UK premiere of Weinberg’s Symphony No.21 and for DG’s recording sessions.
“Before the first rehearsal started with both orchestras, we all knew, ‘well, this is an experiment and we don’t know what it will bring or how it will work’,” recalls Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. The strings of the two orchestras tested the water with a sectional rehearsal. “I have to say that that rehearsal exceeded my expectations … I think the symbiosis was very, very strong, and it felt like we were not just playing the notes: there was the connection to the Baltics and to our shared history, too. We who lived there felt very close to Weinberg’s life and fate.”
“Maybe the most important quality of Weinberg’s music is its humanism,” Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla concludes. “Those deep values are so clearly there, values that speak to every human being. From the works I’ve discovered so far, I think Weinberg’s skill is on the level of Bach’s. And the content he shares through his music, in every single piece I’ve performed, touches the deepest parts of my being. I think these qualities deserve huge recognition.”
MIRGA GRAŽINYTĖ-TYLA SIGNS EXCLUSIVELY TO DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON
“Mesmerising and unstoppable” – Observer
THE LATEST GREAT CONDUCTOR TO JOIN THE HISTORIC LABEL
Hamburg, 1st February 2019 – Young maestro Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla makes history as she signs to Deutsche Grammophon – home to legendary conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado, Karl Böhm, Pierre Boulez and Carlos Kleiber. The Lithuanian musician, who is Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, becomes the first female conductor to sign an exclusive long-term contract with the label.
Gražinytė-Tyla will release her debut album in May – a collection of orchestral works by Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg, whose centenary falls this year. She conducts the combined forces of the CBSO, Kremerata Baltica and violinist Gidon Kremer in Symphony No. 21 “Kaddish” – a major work completed in 1991 and dedicated to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. She also directs Kremerata Baltica in the early Symphony No. 2.
Gražinytė-Tyla will go on to present music by her compatriot Raminta Šerkšnytė with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Vilnius Municipal Choir and Kremerata Baltica, a project she will follow up with an album of works by British composers with the CBSO as the orchestra celebrates its centenary.
“Deutsche Grammophon was part of my musical upbringing,” says Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. “It’s a genuine honour to join DG and to record works that will be new to so many listeners. The music of Mieczysław Weinberg and Raminta Šerkšnytė, a rising star among Lithuanian composers, deserves to reach the widest possible audience. It’s very exciting that our partnership will document some of the musical adventures that the fabulous CBSO and I are about to embark on together and will celebrate the orchestra’s centenary with an album of landmarks of 20th-century British music. I look forward to this thrilling collaboration with DG and to the musical discoveries we can make together.”
Dr Clemens Trautmann, President of Deutsche Grammophon, welcomes the signing. “Mirga is a very special musician, someone whose passion and commitment is communicated with irresistible eloquence. She has made a profound impression with the CBSO, introducing new repertoire and shining new light on works from the symphonic mainstream. I’m sure her first DG recordings will reach out to new audiences and set benchmarks for innovative programming.”
Born in Vilnius, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is one of today’s most exciting young conductors. After early studies in choral conducting and the visual arts in her home city at the National M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art, she went on to study at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, before completing her conducting studies in Bologna, Leipzig and Zurich. Her career breakthrough came in 2012 when she won the prestigious Salzburg Young Conductors Award. In 2013 she was appointed First Kapellmeister at Bern City Theatre, and from 2015 to 2017 was Music Director of the Salzburg Landestheater.
In February 2016 she hit the headlines around the world after she was unanimously chosen to be the new Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – taking over the post formerly held by Sir Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons, just months after making her debut with the orchestra in July 2015. Their partnership has since flourished, with Gražinytė-Tyla praised for her charismatic artistry and innovative repertoire choices.
A Gustavo Dudamel Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 2012-13 season, Gražinytė-Tyla has served as the orchestra’s Assistant Conductor for two seasons and, for the 2016-17 season, as its Associate Conductor.
Gražinytė-Tyla’s signing to Deutsche Grammophon marks an important
milestone in her career. Her first recording was made at Symphony Hall
Birmingham during the CBSO’s critically-acclaimed Weinberg Weekend
in November 2018, and the album was made with the generous support of the
Adam Mickiewicz Institute. It will be released in May and promises to be an
exciting debut from an artist who never ceases to inspire.