Performance Saturday, May 5, 2012 | 7:30 PM

Salzburg Marionette Theater
András Schiff

Zankel Hall
For nearly a century, the Salzburg Marionette Theater has been delighting children and adults alike with its unique productions of well-known operas, musicals, and ballets. Here, the charming troupe presents Debussy’s touching chamber ballet about the adventures of toys that come to life. Perspectives artist András Schiff accompanies at the piano, and performs playful solo works by Debussy and Schumann, all part of a program capturing the innocence of childhood and the fantasies of youth.


  • Salzburg Marionette Theater
  • András Schiff, Piano


  • DEBUSSY Children's Corner
  • SCHUMANN Kinderszenen, Op. 15
  • DEBUSSY La boîte à joujoux


  • Salzburg Marionette Theater

    On February 27, 1913, sculptor Anton Aicher debuted his marionette theater, performing Mozart's opera Bastien und Bastienne. The Salzburg Marionette Theater expanded its repertoire quickly; despite World War I, the theater developed into a cultural focus in Salzburg. In 1926, Aicher's son Hermann took over the management of the theater and increasingly concentrated on its musical repertoire. A first guest performance in Hamburg was followed by many more tours; the repertoire was further expanded with smaller Mozart operas.

    In the 1950s, a decade of major worldwide tours began. Instead of singers and musicians, the theater began working with recordings to minimize costs. In the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, some of the theater's most popular productions were launched, including Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and Mozart Die Zauberflöte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail,  and Le nozze di Figaro,  as well as Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia. In 1971, the Salzburg Marionette Theater acquired its very own venue. A building in the heart of Salzburg was adapted specifically to the requirements of the marionettes. In 1977, Hermann Aicher's daughter Gretl took over its management. In the 1990s, a video recording of all five major Mozart operas was made, and the Salzburg Marionette Theater collaborated for the first time with the Salzburg Festival for the opera Oberon.

    In 2001, the Salzburg Marionette Theater performed a play for the first time: Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Humperdinck's opera Hänsel und Gretel followed. Another cooperation with the Salzburg Festival took place in the "Mozart Year" of 2006 with Bastien und Bastienne. In 2007, the Salzburg Marionette Theater became the first puppet theater in the world to produce TheSound of Music. The production premiered in Dallas, Texas, to overwhelming acclaim, followed by a US tour. In 2010, Debussy's La boîte à joujoux was produced under the direction of Hinrich Horstkotte for Switzerland's Ittingen Festival with pianist András Schiff accompanying the puppeteers.

    In 2012, a compressed version of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen was successfully premiered in cooperation with the Salzburg State Theater. Since 1913, the Salzburg Marionette Theater has undertaken more than 270 tours worldwide, and it will celebrate its 100th anniversary on February 27, 2013.

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  • András Schiff

    András Schiff was born in Budapest and started taking piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadász. He continued musical studies at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music with professors Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág, and Ferenc Rados, and in London with George Malcolm. Recitals and special cycles (including the major keyboard works of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, and Bartók) form an important part of his activities. Between 2004 and 2009, he performed complete cycles of the Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas in 20 cities throughout the United States and Europe, a project recorded live in the Tonhalle Zürich and released in eight volumes for ECM New Series.

    This season, Mr. Schiff was named a Perspectives artist by Carnegie Hall, where he performs in a series of concerts that focus on Bartók and the legacy the composer left on their native Hungary. Unique to this series are the many colleagues who join Mr. Schiff during the 12 concerts included in his Perspectives-most of whom he has known since childhood. Additional North American performances take place in Philadelphia, Princeton, Vancouver, Toronto, Berkeley, Boulder, Napa, and Washington, DC.

    In 1999, Mr. Schiff created his own chamber orchestra, Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians, and close friends. He also works every year with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. From 1989 until 1998, he was artistic director of Musiktage Mondsee, a chamber music festival near Salzburg, and in 1995, he founded the Ittinger Pfingstkonzerte with Heinz Holliger in Kartause Ittingen, Switzerland. In 1998, Mr. Schiff started a similar series, entitled Homage to Palladio at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. From 2004 to 2007, he was artist-in-residence of the Kunstfest Weimar, and in 2007-2008 was pianist-in-residence of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

    Mr. Schiff has established a prolific discography, including recordings for London/Decca (1981-1994), Teldec (1994-1997), and since 1997, ECM New Series. He has received several international recording awards, including two Grammys.

    Mr. Schiff has been awarded numerous prizes, including Zwickau's Robert Schumann Prize, Italy's Premio della critica musicale Franco Abbiati, the Klavier-Festival Ruhr Prize, the Wigmore Medal, and the Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize; in 2006, he was named an Honorary Member of the Beethoven House in Bonn. Also in 2006, Mr. Schiff and the music publisher G. Henle Verlag began collaborating on Mozart and Bach editions. To date, both volumes of Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier were edited in the Henle original text with fingerings by Mr. Schiff.

    Mr. Schiff has been made an honorary professor by the conservatories in Budapest, Detmold, and Munich, and a special supernumerary fellow of Balliol College in Oxford. He is married to violinist Yuuko Shiokawa.

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At a Glance

CLAUDE DEBUSSY  Children's Corner

Six short pieces make up this beguiling suite, which Debussy composed for his three-year-old daughter Chouchou. The music captures the inner life of a small girl with almost uncanny empathy. In "Golliwogg's Cakewalk," Debussy impishly quotes a well-known passage from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Amazingly, British pianist Harold Bauer, who gave the premiere of Children's Corner in 1908, confessed that he was oblivious to the Wagnerian allusion until Debussy pointed it out to him.

ROBERT SCHUMANN  Kinderszenen, Op. 15

Like Debussy, Schumann had a gift for seeing the world through the eyes of children. But the 13 pieces that make up his Kinderszenen offer more than fanciful visions of sugar plums. Schumann composed these deceptively uncomplicated miniatures in part as a love letter to his future wife. Although he called them "as light as a bubble," Clara saw clearly that he had invested these "scenes of touching simplicity" with the emotional turmoil of his own inner life.

CLAUDE DEBUSSY  La boîte à joujoux

Five years after Children's Corner, Debussy expressed his fatherly feelings again in this delightful fairy-tale ballet. Following hard on the heels of Jeux, written for the 1913 Paris season of the Ballets Russes, La boîte à joujoux wears its sophistication lightly. The story of a doll who falls in love with a toy soldier, it evokes what Debussy called, in a letter to his adored Chouchou, "your songs and your laughter and all that noise which sometimes makes you an unbearable little person, but more often charming."

Program Notes



Salzburg Marionette Theater performs Debussy's La boîte à joujoux.

Perspectives: András Schiff

Part of