Hartmann completed the original version of Simplicius between 1934 and 1936, and revised the work in 1957. It was his friend, the conductor and contemporary music advocate, Hermann Scherchen (b. 1891, d. 1966), who had prevailed upon the young Hartmann to write the opera. Scherchen felt the theme lent itself perfectly to a political parody of Nazism. He put the composer on von Grimmelshausen’s path, and gave the initial impetus to the libretto, which Wolfgang Petzet and Hartmann himself completed. If von Grimmelshausen and Hartmann have anything in common, it is certainly their astute, unsparing analysis of the reality around them, which so singularly informs their legacy – all the more so because Hartmann did not want to write an opera historicizing the Thirty Years War which had raged in Germany from 1618 to 1648. On the contrary, his aim was to hold up a ruthless mirror to the world of the emerging Third Reich. The setting in which the initially utterly naive shepherd boy Simplicius is placed in this music drama is thus decidedly allusive. Little imagination is needed, for instance, to see the wolf, which appears in the first scene and re-emerges subsequently more than once, as symbolizing Hitler. In the finale to the first scene, in which mercenaries destroy the peasantry, the work as a whole retroactively takes on a powerfully prophetic overtone, with the notorious Kristallnacht having taken place on the night of 9–10 November 1938, only two years after Hartmann had completed his first version of Simplicius.
Total time: 01:24:45
|Original Recording Format|
DCS AD / DA
Bert van der Wolf
Bert van der Wolf
Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Live recording of the Dutch première, NTR ZaterdagMatinee Recording date: 24 november 2012
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||September 9, 2014|
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