Viktor Ullmann arrived in Theresienstadt on 8 September 1942. He was 44 years old, a Jew and a former officer of the Austrian army. Being an accomplished composer, well known for his organizational skills, he was immediately solicited by the Freizeitgestaltung to organize concerts and conferences, to write musical reviews (he authored 26 such texts), and to compose. In fact, during the two years before his transport to Auschwitz, he wrote several instrumental and vocal works, including song cycles for baritone and piano, one sonata for violin and piano, his third string quartet, three piano sonatas (numbers 5, 6 and 7) as well as an opera in one act on a libretto by the young poet Peter Kien Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder die Tod-Verweigerung (The Emperor of Atlantis, or the Disobedience of Death). Ever since his arrival in the ghetto, Ullmann seems aware of the precariousness of his future, as is shown in the quite openly ironic remark on the manuscript of his piano sonata nº 7, dated 22 August 1944: “The performance rights are reserved by the composer until his death”, so, not for long.
Founded in 2004, Orchestre Musique des Lumières quickly became a major cultural player in Switzerland. Since its foundation, Facundo Agudin has been its artistic and Music director. The MdL Orchestra develops many contemporary projects: in June 2011 MdL and Agudin were invited by Pedro Memelsdorff and Fondazione Giorgio Cini to create El laberinto by Julio Viera. The world premiere was given at the inauguration of the Borges-labyrinth, a greenery maze designed by Randoll Coate in the cloisters of San Giorgio Maggiore, in Venice. Since 2012, MdL has led the Nuevo Tango Nuevo project in collaboration with Marcelo Nisinman, Pablo Ortiz and Julio Viera. In cooperation with Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel, Musique des Lumières and Facundo Agudin lead the Dürrenmatt 2021 anniversary programme, a contemporary music project which includes world premières by composers Marco Pérez-Ramírez, Dominique Gesseney, Andreas Pflüger, Philippe Schoeller and Richard Dubugnon. Agudin and MdL commissioned numerous works by Andreas Pflüger, including the operas Der schwarze Mozart (Basel, 2006), Romulus der Grosse (Neuchâtel, 2015), the Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Bandoneon (Prague, 2007) and Pitture (Geneva, 2014). The orchestra has developed collaborations with Opera Obliqua, Kaserne Basel, Theater Biel, the Polish National Opera – Poznán, Ricordi Munich, Universal Music Group, DRS2 radio, Oehms Classics, NEOS Music, Doron Music, Festival Stand’Eté, Théâtre du Passage Neuchâtel, Lyrica Neuchâtel, Palace in Bienne, Théâtre de Vevey, L’Equilibre – Théâtre de Fribourg, Le Granit Scène Nationale de Belfort, Orchestra Classica Italiana, Scuola di perfezzionamento musicale di Saluzzo, the Torino Winter Games Committee, Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel, ARCAL Paris. MdL recorded with Radio Télévision Suisse for the labels OehmsClassics, Neos Music and Doron. Since 2016, the orchestra is associated with Spanish label IBS Classical, currently publishing the albums Bach Mirror, Mozart & Dürrenmatt, Proyecto Cortázar, as well as a revised edition of Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis, after the study of the manuscript at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel. Orchestre Musique des Lumières is supported by the République et canton du Jura in Switzerland. Its projects receive financial support from the Loterie Romande, the Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council, the Charlotte Kerr Dürrenmatt-Stiftung among many other institutions.
Facundo Agudin is a Swiss-Argentine conductor. Following his studies at the Universidad Católica Argentina he was trained in medieval music and historical composition with Pedro Memelsdorff in Bologna and at the Schola Cantorum in Basel. His six-year professional experience as a member of the Swiss Chamber Choir with the Zurich Tonhalle Zurich under Claudio Abbado, Valery Gergiev, Armin Jordan, Sir Simon Rattle, Gennadii Roshdestwenskii, Wolfgang Sawallisch and David Zinman provided major impulses for his further development as a conductor. In 2007, he was granted First Prize at Colin Metters Seminar (St Petersburg Symphony). Based in Basel, he is the artistic director of Musique des Lumières. He worked as principal guest conductor at the Armenian National Opera and was a guest at the Mariinsky Theatre with Gounod’s Faust in 2014 and 2015. In 2017, he will make his debut with the Würth Philharmonic at the Enescu Festival – XXI Century Series. With this orchestra, he was invited to develop a collaboration with Kent Nagano, Giuliano Carmignola, Ramón Vargas and Roberto Alagna. He has performed with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, Basel Symphony Orchestra, Basel Sinfonietta, Biel Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, State Opera Orchestra of Armenia, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Kislovodsk Philharmonic, Polish National Opera-Teatr Wielki Poznan, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, National Symphony of Argentina, Teatro Argentino de La Plata, CRT Torino, Sinfonica Aosta, Orchestre symphonique de Besançon, Ensemble Ars Nova Poitiers, Orchestre régional de Cannes, Desaga Chamber Orchestra. On the contemporary opera scene, he has premiered Der schwarze Mozart and Romulus der Grosse by Andreas Pflüger. In cooperation with Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel, he currently directs Dürrenmatt 2021, a contemporary music project which includes commissions to composers Marco Pérez-Ramírez, Dominique Gesseney, Andreas Pflüger, Philippe Schoeller and Richard Dubugnon. Together with Musique des Lumières, Facundo Agudin recorded for Swiss National Radio SRF2 Kultur, NEOS Music, Oehms Classics, Doron Music. He has collaborated with Universal Music Group and Ricordi Germany. In 2016, he became an artist of IBS Classical, which is currently publishing the albums Bach Mirror, Mozart & Dürrenmatt, Proyecto Cortázar, as well as a revised edition of Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis, after the study of the manuscript at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel. Facundo Agudin also dedicates himself to nurturing young talents: as a guest-professor he currently runs the Conducting Seminar at Buenos Aires National University for the Arts and is Music Director of Sinfónica Patagonia with Río Negro National University. He is a member of the “Hebdo / Forum des 100” and is a member of the jury at the Concours de Lausanne. In 2015 and 2016, Agudin is nominated to the “Best Argentine Conductor 2015” award, together with Daniel Barenboim. Agudin is represented by Hainzl & Delage Artists Management.