So, how's the mood? Of course, it's a coincidence that our next festival topic falls into 2020, the year of the pandemic, where many things feel as intangible, ephemeral and inexplicable as the German term "Stimmung", which is used to talk about not just a feeling, or an atmosphere; but also about musical intonation or the tuning of an instrument.

But somehow, music seems to be very tuned into the mood. Sometimes a few notes are enough to set the mood (and the tone). New tonal systems, radically retuned colour palettes, as well as extraordinary musical instruments such as a century-old organ with a forgotten tuning system, a strangely out of tune piano or a wondrous sound sculpture – all this is waiting to be discovered in November at this big festival for contemporary music. 

Wien Modern presents sound artists who have rid themselves of the strict musical patterns of the past – sometimes by anarchy, sometimes by art, but always with a lot of sensibility for unexpected nuances. The detailed program will be announced here in time for the start of pre-sales on 8th September 2020.

The list of planned premieres is cause for excitement already: New works for the festival are coming from Peter Ablinger, Andres Bosshard, Friedrich Cerha, James Clarke, Martina Claussen, Chaya Czernowin, Werner Dafeldecker, Thomas Desi / Helga Utz, Hannes Dufek, Hugues Dufourt, Tamara Friebel, Ashley Fure, Susanne Gartmayr, Thomas Gorbach, Sofia Gubaidulina, Georg Friedrich Haas, Edu Haubensak, Hofstetter Kurt, Clara Iannotta, Peter Jakober, Betsy Jolas, Johannes Kalitzke, Thomas Kessler / Lukas Bärfuss, Volkmar Klien, Matthias Kranebitter, Herbert Lacina, Klaus Lang, Zarah Mani, Tim Mariën, Michael Moser, Pia Palme, Germán Toro Pérez, Winfried Ritsch, Gunter Schneider, Wolfram Schurig, Mia Zabelka and many more.

Speaking of excitement, which can be tricky in the year of the pandemic: even Wien Modern, despite its relative late date in the year, was not unaffected by the global event postponements of the past few months. After countless changes to the original programme, we are working tirelessly to ensure that the festival can go ahead in its adapted form at the end of October. If the current measures surrounding distance and room capacity remain the same, Wien Modern might feel a bit different here or there, but it will happen.

Especially some of the more unique moments of the upcoming festival, however, are surprisingly well suited to these exceptional circumstances. Striking sound spaces in the Stephansdom, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Natural History Museum and the mumok, unusual organ music in six Viennese churches (with a lot of "atmosphere"), visits in the workshops of experimental instrument makers all over Vienna, and many more will help you begin to listen again in new ways.

We are excited to spend the autumn with you feeling the intangible, inexplicable and indispensable atmosphere which only emerges when people listen to music together.

Stay healthy, stay tuned, and have a good summer!

Bernhard Günther
and the team of Wien Modern