Tritonus Wimares

Tritonus Wimares is a specialist chamber ensemble that rapidly gained attention for its championing of twentieth-century works that were often neglected or even suppressed. It was founded in 1995 by Walter Hilgers. Born in 1959 in Stolberg in the Rhineland of West Germany, Hilgers won his soloist diploma in violin at the Rhineland Music Academy, Aachen, and worked for 18 years as an orchestral musician, where he played under some of the leading conductors of his time. He became a member of the faculty of the Franz Liszt Conservatory in Weimar, the small German city known for its musical history and for being the place where the democratic post-War German Republic's constitution was established. The name of Weimar became associated with German life from 1920 to 1933; even the Government was known as the "Weimar Republic" after its birthplace. This association attracted the attention of Hilgers to the highly active avant-garde musical life of German during the Weimar period, which saw the birth of twelve-tone music, the Neo-Classical movement, classical music's interest in American jazz, the chamber orchestra movement, electronic music, and even the beginning of post twelve-tone music in the example of Varèse. This lively experimental phase in music history was abruptly halted by the Nazi regime in Germany and similar oppressive government elsewhere. The Nazis collected art of all types representing this era into museum exhibits and concerts called "Entartete" (Degenerate) art, intending audiences to reject it. Instead, they found the music (and other art) clearly pleased the public, and angrily disbanded the program, instituting an outright ban on all art officially proscribed as "Entartete." Hilgers decided to form an ensemble devoted to the "Entartete" music of the Weimar period. Hilgers invited the soloist members of the Staatskapelle Weimar (Weimar State Orchestra) -- whose history dates back to 1602 -- to form his new ensemble. It was named "Tritonus Wimares" or "Tritone Weimar" in Latin. (Tritone is the name of the most unstable dissonant interval and rose to much greater prominence during the period.) The centerpiece of its repertory is German music of that period, including works of such composers as Hindemith and Weill (whose music became suppressed in Germany but achieved fame after they left for other countries), Dessau and Eisler (who similarly left Germany, failed to find fame, and returned to East Germany after World War II), and composers who remained in Germany, such as Karl Amadeus Hartmann (who went underground as a resistance leader) and Ervin Schulhoff (who was murdered at Auschwitz). In addition, it plays works of non-German composers who were particularly strongly blacklisted by the regime, such as Edgard Varèse and Igor Stravinsky. However, Tritonus Wimares also plays works from the standard Classical and Romantic repertory. The group is flexible, and can deploy in various combinations of instruments of from 10 to 35 players. Its 1997 recording of music of Schulhoff for chamber orchestra on the Dabringhaus & Grimm label has received substantial international recognition.

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