Hans Pfitzner (1869-1949)

Wagner is known as one of the great romantic composers of the 19 century.  Aptly, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) is releasing its newest film on OAE Player, Embers of Romanticism which includes Wagner’s beautiful music, on 10 February at 8pm GMT, just in time for Valentine’s Day. 

Filmed in the beautiful Henry Wood Hall in Trinity Church Square and directed by Geoffrey Paterson, the OAE explore the tumultuous and fervid nature of romance through brand new arrangements of Wagner’s iconic Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isoldeas well as other works from Richard Strauss, Webern and Pfitzner. 

Originally intended for a concert back in March 2020, which was cancelled as a result of the pandemic, this programme is based on Thomas Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn, Told by a Friend. In the novel, the eponymous character enters into a Faustian pact in which he trades his soul for compositional genius. The music in the concert relates to Mann’s novel through both direct references and thematic inferences. 

The programme is a radical departure from the OAE’s typical repertoire. 

OAE Leader, Kati Debretzeni, comments: 

‘While it is not unusual for the OAE to play music outside of the baroque and classical eras (for which we are commonly known), this is the first time we have never performed music by Pfitzner or Webern, two famous exponents of the musical language of the early 20th century music, and it was a thrilling opportunity to expand horizons.’

The repertoire has been curated and arranged by OAE principal horn, Roger Montgomery and Embers of Romanticism will be the world premiere of his work. After the success of performing a reduced score of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier alongside Robert Wiene’s silent film of the same name in May 2018, Roger was inspired by the concept of arranging and performing more scores for the Orchestra. 

Roger says: 

‘We are all thrilled that we have finally found the time to try out some of the arrangements after the original concert was cancelled. This is unlike anything the OAE has done before. Arranging and reducing scores opens up so many opportunities for us to perform works that are, in many cases, too impractical for us to perform otherwise. It’s exciting because it means our audience will have the chance to hear the Orchestra perform something a bit unusual and different from what we normally play.’

Interestingly, conductor Geoffrey Paterson conducted the OAE’s performance of Der Rosenkavalier. This means he will join the OAE for their second concert of performing reduced works. 

Geoffrey says: 

‘It is a fascinating experience to hear large-scale symphonic works reduced for chamber ensemble, with a shifted perspective that places even greater focus on each individual player, as well giving the opportunity to hear details that can sometimes be lost in a full orchestral texture.’

This performance will premiere on OAE Player at 8pm GMT on Wednesday 10  February.


Arrangements by OAE Principal Horn, Roger Montgomery.

WEBERN Passacaglia
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
PFITZNER Act 2 Vorspiel from Palestrina 
R STRAUSS Salome (excerpt)
WAGNER Vorspiel to Act 3  from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg