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Work of the Week – Christian Jost: Concerto noir redux

2020 is the 200th anniversary of the Berlin Konzerthaus, a concert hall that started life as a theatre. In celebration of this anniversary as part of Musikfest Berlin, Christian Tetzlaff will perform the world premiere of a new violin concerto by Christian Jost on 6 September. The concerto, entitled Concerto noir redux, will be accompanied by Konzerthausorchester Berlin and conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. 

Concerto noir redux was originally intended to bear the same title as his opera Journey of Hope – Voyage of Despair. However, after the cancellation of the original premiere in March 2020, Jost chose instead to make changes to the music in response to recent events.

Christian Jost – Concerto noir redux: music from the lockdown

The result was not only a smaller orchestra, necessitated by social distancing, but a work that expresses a darker character and soundworld. Concerto noir redux is now one of two versions of the work Concerto noir, each with the same solo part.

Usually, I compose with a clear idea of the musical structure and of the sounds, and therefore of the course of the resulting work. But this time it was different. There was an initial thought for the opening in which the solo violin gradually separates from unison with the first violins. From this starting point the work should virtually compose itself. The resulting single-movement concerto with a single tempo (quarter = 76 espressivo) is driven by rhythmic ‘cells’. I completed the composition more or less simultaneously with the end of the lockdown, and since this had given rise to a work with predominantly dark shades of colour and sound, I considered Concerto noir to be a perfect title. Christian Jost

Photos: Adobe Stock / lakkot, Joe Quiao


Work of the Week – Christian Jost: Dichterliebe

photo: Adobe Stock / Arman Zhenikeyev

These days, there is a renaissance of song recitals. Song cycles offer a welcome opportunity for concert or scenic events with a very limited number of persons involved. Either with piano accompaniment or arranged for ensemble, they gain popularity. A special project is planned to commence on 20 June at Staatstheater Darmstadt: Christian Jost’s Dichterliebe. Eight singers from the theatre will alternate in singing the vocal part of the cycle, the nine instrumentalists from the State Orchestra Darmstadt will play under the baton of Jan Croonenbroeck.  

The form of presentation is the special element of the project: It will be shown in front of a audience and online as a live concert with film, directed by Franziska Angerer, stating:

“Wir machen einen Film — was nicht heißt, dass wir das Theater damit ersetzen wollen. Ganz im Gegenteil: Ich glaube, es ist wichtig, dass wir die Leerstelle Theater auch als solche gelten lassen. Und auch wenn wir uns nun filmisch mit der „Dichterliebe“ auseinandersetzen, verwenden wir trotzdem theatrale Mittel. Gerade für dieses Projekt eignet sich das Medium Film an sich jedoch sehr gut. Der Komponist Christian Jost beschreibt seine Komposition als einen assoziativen Strom, der Schumanns und Heines Lieder wie Inseln in sich trägt und miteinander verwebt. Hierdurch entstehen viele Zwischenräume, die sich mit den Mitteln des Films wunderbar erschaffen lassen; man hat andere Möglichkeiten und Zeitlichkeiten als im Theater, was ganz wunderbar ist.”

Christian Jost – Dichterliebe: das Prinzip des Weiterdenkens

Dichterliebe was commissioned by the Berlin Konzerthaus and the Copenhagen Opera Festival, and received its world premiere at the Berlin Konzerthaus in 2017. The work is inspired by Robert Schumann’s well-known Dichterliebe op. 48 based on poems by Heinrich Heine. Jost’s reinterpretation changes and increases the cycle’s instrumentation, as well as doubling its length, effectively integrating Schumann’s romantic art song with his own modern style. The music is further supplemented by video sequences which provide a visual representation of the songs’ themes.

The 16 songs of Schumann’s cycle tell a sorrowful story of lost love. The singer’s expressions shift through pain, indifference, sorrow and joy, perhaps in a dream or perhaps reality. In Heine’s poems, the river Rhine acts as a symbol for this stream of emotions, and Jost’s songs also flow. The tenor seems to surface time and again out of the dense, wave-like instrumental accompaniment of legato ostinato, and the harmonies and melodies of Schumann’s composition are developed by Jost into a tonal stream. For example, the short motifs from Schumann’s piano accompaniment are expanded by Jost throughout the whole cycle with greater depth.

The four scheduled performances of Dichterliebe take place on 20, 27 and 28 June as well as 11 July. 

photo: Adobe Stock / Arman Zhenikeyev


Work of the Week – Christian Jost: Egmont

Christian Jost’s opera Egmont premieres at Theater an der Wien on 17 February conducted by Michael Boder. The work was commissioned by the theatre for 2020 in celebration of Beethoven’s 250 Anniversary. Keith Warner has created the production for the premiere. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Christian Jost: Egmont”


Work of the Week – Christian Jost: The Woman in the Gardens of Suzhou

On 1 December, Christian Jost’s The Woman in the Gardens of Suzhou will receive its German premiere at the Congresshalle Saarbrücken with the Saarländische Staatsorchester conducted by Jonathon Heyward. The concert forms part of the orchestra’s “Artist in Focus” series which will feature Jost both as composer and conductor throughout the 2019/20 season. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Christian Jost: The Woman in the Gardens of Suzhou”


Work of the Week – Christian Jost: An die Hoffnung

Christian Jost, Klaus Florian Vogt: An die Hoffnung

On 19 August, the world premiere of Christian Jost’s An die Hoffnung will be performed by Yutaka Sado and the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich with tenor Klaus Florian Vogt, opening the 10th annual Grafenegg Festival. Jost was commissioned to write An die Hoffnung as Composer in Residence at this year’s festival. The residency will include performances of several of his existing compositions and he will also appear as a conductor and leader of the young composers’ workshop INK STILL WET from 1-5 September. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Christian Jost: An die Hoffnung”