The concerto is part of a rich archive of chamber, solo and choral works by German composer Heinz Moehn (1902-1992) that had been believed lost until it was brought to light by the composer’s grandson, USask Innovation Enterprise managing director Johannes Dyring, who had been storing them in his basement in hopes that they would one day be performed. Read the full story and watch a short video here.
“This truly exciting musical and research collaboration underscores the value of our unique agreement with the SSO which aims to foster connections between the community and our diverse range of scholarly and artistic work,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff.
The discovery will culminate in a collaborative SSO concert—Finding Heinz Moehn—on Saturday, March 23 at which time the concerto, edited by USask music lecturer and composer Paul Suchan, will be performed by the SSO. The second half of the concert will feature the SSO performing Mozart’s Requiem, which Heinz Moehn had edited, accompanied by the USask Greystone Singers student choir.
“It's not every day that a long lost violin concerto is discovered in Canada, let alone here in Saskatoon,” said SSO executive director Mark Turner. “The discovery of finding, learning, and hearing music that is new to us is a unique experience and it is so special and rare that orchestra and audience get to experience a work with such an intriguing background for the first time in more than 80 years. It's like the discovery of buried treasure, and we all get to open it together.”
The initiative will be enhanced by the work of USask musicology assistant professor Amanda Lalonde who has just received a $25,000 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, in collaboration with SSO conductor Eric Paetkau. The project will explore Moehn's place in the history of 20th century German music and engage in partnered research with the SSO to bring to life Moehn’s music through performances.
“Other than this concerto, we have no sense of what his music was like because it only exists in manuscripts,” she said. “We’re delighted that Moehn’s grandson Johannes Dyring is making available to us this previously unexplored collection of primary sources relating to Heinz Moehn's career, including music manuscripts, photographs, and letters to Moehn from major German musical figures. His compositions have not been examined by performers or scholars.”
Lalonde expects the project will do more than shed light on Moehn’s music and multifaceted career.
“The project is important because it might add another layer to our understanding of the impact of German cultural policy on music before and during the Second World War,” she said, noting that both the musical styles of the time and composers with whom Moehn associated were denounced by the Nazis.
“We will look at whether his compositional style and output were impacted by the cultural policies of the Third Reich,” she said.
The project team, which will include two students, will create a multi-media website, podcast and an interactive web display of Moehn's artistic associations. The public can also follow this project over the next year through SSO and USask social media.
“This project could have broad impact because it features the SSO and academic researchers working together to create cultural knowledge and to reach audiences both through live events and in online environments,” she said.
Dyring said it’s very gratifying for him that this collaborative project has come together, enabling his grandfather’s work to be performed again.
“For me as a newcomer to Canada, it’s really great that this community allows the entrepreneurial and risk-taking spirit to thrive. After all these years, I was able to find the talented people who were interested in his music and would perform this concerto again. This happened here, it didn’t happen in Sweden or Germany. These local musicians had the will and the courage to get this done.”
A panel discussion on the Finding Heinz Moehn partnership will take place at McNally-Robinson bookstore on March 19 at 7 pm that will feature Turner, Paetkau, Lalonde, and Dyring.
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