Kaija Saariaho voted greatest living composer by BBC Music Magazine

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Don't miss the last two performances of Saariaho's opera L'amour de loin on 28. and 30. April 2020!

Today’s leading composers say Kaija Saariaho is the greatest living composer in the world. The survey, conducted by BBC Music Magazine, was taken by 174 of today's top composers. The top 50 list was compiled by 174 present-day composers, who were asked to name five of the greatest composers throughout history, according to four main criteria: originality, impact, craftsmanship and enjoyability. According to BBC Music Magazine's recent poll, Kaija Saariaho is the greatest living composer in the world. While J.S. Bach was voted the greatest of all time, Saariaho's 17th position ranks her highest among living composers.

Don't miss the last two performances of Saariaho's opera L'amour de loin on 28. and 30. April 2020!  More information and on-line tickets here.

Long ago in the south of France there lived a troubadour. He sings of love for an imaginary woman. He then sets out on a crusade and never returns. Neither his name nor his verse were forgotten and over time a legend grew up of how he set of for Tripolis seeking the lady of his heart, to die there in her arms. This troubadour was Jaufré Rudel, Prince of Blaye, who perfected the concept of “love from afar”. His story and the legends around it have inspired artists over the succeeding centuries, including ours. The Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho fi rst encountered the legend of Jaufré in 1993 and set several of his poems to music. From songs it was only a small step to an opera and so Jaufré’s story became the subject of her fi rst operatic work. L’amour de loin was premiered in 2000 at the Salzburg Festival, in 2003 it won the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition and is one of the most frequently performed contemporary operas. 

Marko Ivanović, the principal conductor of the Janáček Opera NTB, whose opera Enchantia (based on Gerald Durrell's novel The Talking Parcel) is one of the most successful new works to be shown on the Brno stage, said that: "It is interesting to look at the score of L'amour de loin, one of the most important operas of the 21st century, through the eyes of a composer. For me, the score is musically pure and clear, and the musical language of Kaija Saariaho is close to the impressionists. For me personally it is impressionism of the 21st century."

"It is a story which surrenders to the higher principle of love, which makes us want to be better and more loving. It poses the question whether it is possible for the human soul to be like this in our world and whether we are capable of achieving it," said the director Jiří Heřman before continuing: "The troubadour Jaufré Rudel follows his concept of love with absolute submission, it gives him the chance to die in bliss. For me, the character of Clémence is an example of a woman who gradually opens up her heart, she experiences a brief state of bliss and loses it, just as Jaufré does in his first meeting with the Pilgrim. Clémence isn't yet ready to accept that moment, so that it might remain forever."