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Interview with Reinhard Flender, director of the Peermusic Classical

Entretien avec Reinhard Flender, directeur de Peermusic Classical
Interview met Reinhard Flender, directeur van de Peermusic Classical
Reinhard Flender
p. 32-33
Cet article est une traduction de :
Entretien avec Reinhard Flender, directeur de Peermusic Classical [fr]


Peermusic Classical est la branche musique classique européenne du groupe Peermusic fondé en 1928 et aujourd’hui le plus grand éditeur mondial de musique avec 600 000 œuvres à son catalogue. ResMusica a rencontré son directeur Reinhard Flender, parlant un français parfait, à propos de La Passagère de Weinberg.

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Notes de la rédaction

17 October 2011. Interview by Jean-Christophe Le Toquin (ResMusica).

Texte intégral

Reinhard Flender.

Reinhard Flender.

© Peerclassic.

ResMusica. Mieczyslaw Weinburg is today part of the most important composers of your catalogue. How did you discover this composer who forged most of his career during the Soviet era?

Reinhard Flender: It was from the Quatuor Danel in 1999, and the first movement of the Quartet No.7. At first I was not very impressed, because this movement taken on its own doesn’t reveal who Weinburg is. It was with the Quintette that I decided to go to Moscow. Thirty works had been published by Sikorski, and all the rest was available. It was important to move quickly, because it had dragged on for years and another editor was interested in it. We begun by the quartets and the Quintette.

And The Passenger?

Reinhard Flender: It was only later that I heard of an opera with a theme, how can I put it… that has something to do with us, that concerned Germans. I was highly impressed by the sheet music, written with such intensity. And there also exists a recording where Weinburg himself sings the entire opera whilst playing the piano. We understand that he had everything in his mind!

How was the opera organised, and why in Bregenz?

Reinhard Flender: I made a proposition to every opera house, including Bregenz. David Pountney, whom I had never met, was the director of this festival. I was shocked when he immediately replied: ‘We will do this opera. Bring me the sheet music’. It was later that I understood that Pountney knew the entire country and spoke Russian. It was a godsend. He worked as a perfectionist, went to Auschwitz and spent a lot of money. He was seized by a passion for the opera. At the time there were seventeen CD’s of Weinburg. He bought them all and, in 2006, the opera was played as a concert in Moscow and a recording was sent to him. He loved it immediately.

The Passenger.

The Passenger.

© Giselle Allen & Leigh Melrose.

Because of its libretto?

Reinhard Flender: The fact that Marta (namely Zofia Posmysz, the author of the source text, see supra) is still alive, added something. Her book is incredible, very rich and not polemic. There were many theories. Shostakovich could have read Zofia’s book and given it to Weinburg, though nothing is certain. The final scene, where Tadeusz plays the Chaconne by Bach instead of a waltz, is an idea from the librettist Alexander Medvedev. Zofia was not so happy about this, but it was necessary.

Weinburg composed eight operas, The Passenger being the first. What place does this opera hold in the work of the composer?

Reinhard Flender: We already knew that The Passenger was key to his work. Weinburg said himself that everything was tied to it, everything he wrote before and after. The more we know his symphonies, the more we see that there is incredible command in the opera. He is Schnittke’s predecessor on polystylism. We reencounter the theme of Leningrad by Shostakovich and quotes of Kurt Weill. The most revolutionary is in the shack scenes. Each time the German soldiers enter, we hear the initial theme of Beethoven’s Fifth, altered, militarised. This systematic association of the army and of Beethoven is completely crazy… If the musicians were aware of it, they would make it clearer. There are also many quotes, which require an in-depth analysis to be heard. And, as Bach quotes himself in his Passions, Weinburg recycles material.

The work was played in Bregenz, Warsaw and now in London. Did they have different approaches?

Reinhard Flender: The English musicians played with more individuality, I heard details that I had never previously noticed. It was impressive.

Do you know what is next?

Reinhard Flender: The next interpretation will be in Karlsruhe, with a new production. And then in Tel Aviv, Houston, New York. I was unable to find an opera house that was interested in France and I wonder why…

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Table des illustrations

Titre Reinhard Flender.
Crédits © Peerclassic.
Fichier image/jpeg, 84k
Titre The Passenger.
Crédits © Giselle Allen & Leigh Melrose.
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Reinhard Flender, « Interview with Reinhard Flender, director of the Peermusic Classical »Témoigner. Entre histoire et mémoire, 118 | 2014, 32-33.

Référence électronique

Reinhard Flender, « Interview with Reinhard Flender, director of the Peermusic Classical »Témoigner. Entre histoire et mémoire [En ligne], 118 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 octobre 2015, consulté le 11 avril 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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