Schreker’s powerful, provocative “Der Ferne Klang”

Posted on: August 3, 2010

In Tuesday’s (8/3) New York Times, Steve Smith writes about a rare performance of Franz Schreker’s opera Der Ferne Klang led by Leon Botstein on Sunday. “Mr. Botstein is now conducting the first fully staged American production of Der Ferne Klang as part of the SummerScape performing arts series at Bard College here…. Among the many questions that arose during a matinee performance on Sunday, the most pressing in the end was, Why on earth did it take so long for this emotionally engaging, musically thrilling work to reach an American stage? The answer is, to some extent, a matter of timing. The early apex of Schreker’s creativity came on the verge of World War I. Later his career was forestalled and his reputation ruined by the Nazis. Schreker died a broken man in 1934, and his works were banned for a decade. Reassessment would not start until the 1970s and took considerably longer to reach the United States. Another issue, specific to Der Ferne Klang, could be a lack of sympathetic main characters. … Der Ferne Klang is not merely a lavish curiosity worth a sidelong glance but a powerful, provocative work that richly deserves the committed advocacy it received here.”

Posted August 3, 2010