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Sacher Perspectives

Paul SacherThe School of Music is hosting the first UK conference celebrating the legacy of Swiss conductor and impresario Paul Sacher, one of the most powerful names in music in the last century.

Named the world’s third richest man in the 1990s, Paul Sacher commissioned more than 300 pieces from composers, including Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Richard Strauss, Henri Dutilleux, and Harrison Birtwistle, and conducted many of the premieres himself.

The Paul Sacher Foundation was founded in Basel in 1973, initially to preserve Sacher’s extensive musical library, including complete collections of several of the 20th century’s most important composers. Today, the Foundation is an international research centre and the richest repository of compositional materials in the world.

The Sacher Perspectives conference will run from 16-17 March at the School of Music in collaboration with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBCNOW), the Paul Sacher Foundation, the Swiss Embassy of London, the Royal Musical Association, Pro Helvetia of Switzerland, the Swiss Cultural Fund in Britain, and the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation of Switzerland.

It will bring together scholars, performers, and composers to explore issues arising from the investigation of sources housed at the Sacher Foundation, and consider how manuscripts, sketches, correspondence and other material opens up the way we think about the music of composers in the collections, and about source study in general. Sacher logo

An associated exhibition will bring, for the first time to Britain, facsimile manuscripts held by the Sacher Foundation to be displayed at the School. This will be formally opened by His Excellency Anton Thalmann, Swiss Ambassador to the UK on 16 March.

On 16 March a live concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from BBC Hoddinott Hall, featuring major works commissioned by and dedicated to Paul Sacher and will be performed by the BBC National Opera of Wales (BBCNOW) under Swiss Principal Conductor Thierry Fischer.

Caroline Rae and Ruth Thomas-LehmannThe organiser and initiator of the project, Dr Caroline Rae, said: “It is a tremendous opportunity for Cardiff University to be able to organise this event which provides a platform for major new research as well as musical performances of the highest standard. It has been a privilege to work with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in programming the Cardiff Sacher Season.

“We have strong Swiss connections in Cardiff: Dr Robert Piencikowski of the Sacher Foundation is an Honorary Lecturer at the School, the Principal Conductor of BBCNOW is also Swiss, and we are fortunate indeed to have such an enthusiastically proactive Honorary Consul for Switzerland in Wales, Ruth Thomas-Lehmann.”

Alongside the conference and associated events, the School of Music along with BBCNOW has been running the Cardiff Sacher Season, a series of concerts showcasing some of the important works commissioned by Sacher.

More information, including registration details and a full programme of events, is available from