From Church to Concert Hall: First Movement

40th Anniversary of the Torroella Festival.

Winter – Andante con moto
MUSEU PALAU SOLTERRA

From Church to Concert Hall, the route of exhibitions with which the Torroella Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary, begins at the Palau Solterra, a historic 15th century building which was the residence of the Counts of Torroella and now houses the Fundació Vila Casas. 

In this first venue of the exhibition, the Benedictine monk, Anselm Viola, born in Torroella de Montgrí on the 13th — or perhaps the 14th —of June, 1738, will be the host for Ludwig van Beethoven, born in Bonn on the 16th — or perhaps the 17th — of December, 1770. 

Anselm Viola composed his music at Montserrat, where he arrived to fulfil his irrepressible ambition of becoming a musician, while the young Beethoven moved between Bonn, the town of his birth, and Vienna, his adopted city. 

Both men, while living in greatly differing environments, shared the same desire – to create a new style of music which, without going back on tradition, would express the new burgeoning sensibility which would make the 18th century a time of change for music, as it was for the rest of the arts and social and political life throughout Europe. 

At Montserrat, Anselm Viola succeeded Benet Julià, another musician born in Torroella de Montgrí, as choirmaster and director of the musical chapel. During this period, Beethoven wrote his Cantata on the death of the Emperor Joseph II, perhaps the most significant of the works he composed during his time in Bonn. 

The Torroella Festival has programmed concerts with music by these two composers. They never met, although destiny could have brought them together if we note the commentary transcribed by Maria Lluïsa Cortada in her book on Viola. “At the end of March 1800, the famous humanist Wilhelm von Humboldt visited Montserrat and wrote to his friend Goethe, “Celebrations at Montserrat are of a special solemnity and are accompanied by excellent religious music. Secular musicians have also received training in the monastery choir”.” 

It is true that when they met, Goethe and Beethoven did not see eye to eye, but they were part of the same artistic world, undoubtedly with interests and cultural models in common. 

Time kept Viola and Beethoven completely apart, but this commemoration of the history of our Festival brings them together and makes it possible for Viola to welcome Beethoven to Torroella, a town whose musical history begins in the 14th century. 

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