Rainer Kunad - Der Meister und Margarita

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Rainer Kunad (1936-1995) was a German composer from Chemnitz in the former German Democratic Republic. From 1955 to 1959 he studied music in Dresden and Leipzig. From 1960 to 1974 he headed the Schauspielmusik department of the Staatstheater in Dresden, and from 1971 he also worked at the Deutschen Staatsoper in Berlin. He was also professor of composition at the Musik Hochschule in Dresden in 1984 until he left the GDR for the German Federal Republic. Since then his works were taboo in the GDR. Only in 1992, after the reunification of Germany, his work was performed again in the east of the country.

From 1984 until his death, Kunad lived in the city of Tübingen as a freelance composer, and he wrote only symphonic and oratorical compositions.

In 1983 he completed Der Meister und Margarita, his sixth opera. The work was made on demand of the Nationaltheater in Weimar, but they refused to produce it, so the performance in 1986, in the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe was announced as the «German premiere». Playwright for this representation was Yuri Lyubimov (1917-2014), who originally had adapted the story of the novel for his own Taganka Theatre in Moscow, but who had lost the citizenship of the Soviet Union in 1984 and was exiled to the west. The libretto is written by the novellist, poet and playwright Heinz Czechowski (1935-2009).

The «German premiere» was followed in 1987 by the Polish premiere, which took place under the auspices of the Festiwal Warszawska Jesień (Warsaw Autumn Festival) in the Theater Wielki under the baton of Robert Satanowski. This performance was recorded by the Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, the second German public television, and broadcast in 1988.

More reading

Siglind Bruhn, full-time researcher in 20th century musicology at the Institute for the Humanities of the University of Michigan and “chercheur permanent” on the Institut d’esthétique des arts contemporains of the Sorbonne, made a comparative study of the opera's of Rainer Kunad, Sergey Slonimsky and York Höller.

Siglind Bruhn's study is downloadable in the archives section

Technical details


Rimsting, Arends conatum, 1986

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