Bayerisches Junior Ballett München

Songs of a Wayfarer

Music »Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen« (1883–1885)
Costume John F. Macfarlane
Set Design John F. Macfarlane
Stager Shirley Esseboom, Stefan Zeromski
Light Jennifer Tipton

Under the linden tree
Which snowed its blossom on me,
I was not aware of how life hurts,
And all, all was well once more!
All! All!
Love and sorrow, and world and dream!

- From the fourth movement of Gustav Mahler’s «Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen»

We are all on our own individual journey through this world. The metaphor of the journey is ubiquitous, but the subject matter of journeying continues to endure in artists’ search for meaning in the world. Love in its multifaceted and forever evolving nature has given wings to such great works as Gustav Mahler’s significant contribution to the German song cycle tradition, «Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen». Mahler describes a young man who is unlucky in love and must wander the world to find solace in the beauty of nature. The music builds up to an outburst of pain and anger, before arriving at some kind of consolation in rest or death. That Mahler composed the lyrics to the cycle himself, hints at an autobiographical nature embedded at the work’s core.

Jiří Kylián’s 1982 ballet set to Mahler’s score is reminiscent of the choreographer’s earlier, more neoclassical works. Yet the creation process marked a turning point in his career. Kylián began to work on «Songs Of A Wayfahrer» after returning from Prague for the first time since fleeing his homeland in the spring of 1968. What emerged was a ballet that oscillates between overwhelming grief and the purest of joys. Known for his extremely particular musicality, Kylián mirrors the nostalgia and heartbreak of Mahler’s score with smooth, fluid phrases that are interrupted by disjoined gestural staccati. Magnificent lifts send bodies soaring through the air in a way that only a choreographic master like Kylián can envision.

Jiří Kylián began his choreographic career as a dancer with John Cranko at the Stuttgart Ballet. He went on to lead the Netherlands Dance Theatre for more than a quarter of a century, amassing a choreographic oeuvre of more than 100 ballets. In 2019, Kylián was inaugurated as a member of the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris. This highly prestigious recognition was made even more special by the Academy’s decision to change its statutes and add a new seat for ‘choreography’.

First premiered on 11 July 1982 by the Nederlands Dans Theater at the Cirkustheater Scheveningen

Premiere: 26 March 2023 as part of a matinée by the Heinz-Bosl-Stiftung at the Nationaltheater Munich