The Paul Sacher Centenary

«Edgard Varèse: Composer, Sound Sculptor, Visionary«
Museum Tinguely, Basel
28 April to 27 Auguste 2006


In April 2006 the Paul Sacher Foundation and several associated institutions celebrated the one-hundredth birthday of its eponymous founder in Basel. The events were avidly attended by the Basel public, international newspapers and trade journals, and the musical community. The organizers and ensembles involved in the concert series had conceived special programs thematically in tune with the occasion. In consequence, the little festival presented a broad spectrum of music: the Academy Concert of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis («Paul Sacher's Instruments») offered works from the baroque, pre-classical, and classical periods; Kolja Lessing gave a recital of violin sonatas in the Gare du Nord; and the Basel Madrigalists sang music by Stravinsky from the first half of the twentieth century in Basel Theater. There were also performances of recent contemporary music and several world premières. The Ernst von Siemens Foundation for Music commissioned four new works especially for the occasion: Thomas Adès's Three Studies from Couperin (Kammerorchester Basel), Dieter Ammann's pResto sOstinato (Ensemble Phoenix Basel, a concert of the Basel chapter of the ISCM), Johannes Schöllhorn's phosphor (basel sinfonietta), and Heinz Holliger's «Untergang», the fourth of his Five Songs on Poems by Georg Trakl (Basler Musik Forum).

One special highlight was the birthday concert of works by Edgard Varèse, Wolfgang Rihm, and Pierre Boulez, presented by Boulez and Anne-Sophie Mutter with the Ensemble InterContemporain on 28 April 2006. This festive event included welcoming addresses by Fritz Gerber, Lukas Hoffmann, Barbara Schneider (member of the Basel city council), and Boulez himself. One-thousand invited guests from the worlds of music and culture paid tribute to Paul Sacher, who died in 1999.

Publication on the occasion of Paul Sacher's one-hundredth birthday:
Paul Sacher - Facetten einer Musikerpersönlichkeit (Publications of the Paul Sacher Foundation, Vol. 11), edited by Ulrich Mosch, 2006, 312 pp.

The exhibition Edgard Varèse: Composer, Sound Sculptor, Visionary, mounted jointly by the Paul Sacher Foundation and the Museum Tinguely to celebrate Sacher's one-hundredth birthday, also drew widespread international acclaim. Most of the manuscripts and documents on display from the posthumous estate of this seminal composer had never been seen before in public. They were augmented and contextualized by other manuscripts, documents, and works of art donated by collectors or by Varèse's artistic friends and successors to present an impressive picture of a significant chapter in cultural history. The exhibition was organized by Felix Meyer and Heidy Zimmermann (Paul Sacher Foundation) with the assistance of Heinz Stahlhut (Tinguely Museum) and accompanied by three concerts and a symposium.

Catalogue: Edgard Varèse. Komponist, Klangforscher, Visionär, edited by Felix Meyer and Heidy Zimmermann, 2006, 507 pp.