From the New World Symphony archives: MTT honors Anne Frank with Audrey Hepburn

Michael Tilson Thomas with Audrey Hepburn – courtesy San Francisco Symphony

Miami-based New World Symphony this week pays tribute to Anne Frank, the young girl who spent two years in hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, and whose diary detailing those years of captivity made her famous the world over.

Ju‌ne 1‌2th would have been Anne Frank’s 92nd birthday, and to mark the occasion, the New World Symphony are honoring her memory by recalling the work written by the Symphony’s Music Director, Michael Tilson Thomas, From the Diary of Anne Frank, for narrator and orchestra. The work was premiered by the New World Symphony in 1990 in a performance led by MTT, with narration by Audrey Hepburn.

Michael Tilson Thomas with Audrey Hepburn – courtesy San Francisco Symphony

From the Diary of Anne Frank was commissioned by UNICEF, and written by Tilson Thomas for Audrey Hepburn, a UNICEF ambassador at the time. Not only was Hepburn the same age as Anne Frank, but she also grew up in occupied Holland. “I now realize,” says Tilson Thomas, “that so much of this work is a reflection not just of Anne Frank, but of Audrey Hepburn. Audrey’s simplicity, her deeply caring nature, the ingenuous sing-song of her voice are all present in the phrase shapes of the orchestra. The work would never have existed without her, and it is dedicated to her.”

The New World Symphony commemorates the premiere of this work on its website with the story behind the composition, photographs of Anne Frank, MTT and Audrey Hepburn, an audio link in which Audrey Hepburn tells of her links to Anne Frank, and a video link in which MTT discusses both Audrey Hepburn and the music.

The 2018/19 season marked the 25th and final year of Michael Tilson Thomas’ tenure as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony (he is now the Symphony’s Music Director Laureate), and to celebrate this remarkable partnership, MTT led the Symphony in a performance of From the Diary of Anne Frank, with narration by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard.

‘From The Diary of Anne Frank’ – courtesy San Francisco Symphony

This performance was released as an album last year by SFS Media – the San Francisco Symphony’s in-house recording label. Available wherever music is downloaded and streamed, the album also features Tilson Thomas’ Meditations on Rilke, featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny.

Courtesy San Francisco Symphony

In March this year, the San Francisco Symphony was delighted to announce that From the Diary of Anne Frank and Meditations on Rilke was awarded a 2021 Grammy® Award for Best Classical Compendium, bringing MTT and the Symphony’s total number of Grammy® Awards to 16, and their ninth since launching SFS Media in 2001. 

Information sourced from:

New World Symphony

San Francisco Symphony

ArtsPreview home page

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