At first sight a dapper, small, elderly German gentleman and a giant hairy bearded sweet bear of a middle aged Scotsman don't really have much in common. But then we're talking about Hans Werner Henze, the world's greatest living composer, and composer Oliver Knussen, the new BBC Symphony's Artist In Residence: Henze has been for many years very generous toward Ollie's very deserving work as a composer, and Knussen, in return, has become the principal champion of Henze's work in the English speaking world (props to Ian Bostridge, too; Simon Rattle gets another honorable mention, but then he's an emigré to Germany now so he's kinda preaching to the converted there).
Now, London finally bows down to the superior man, and has organized for next January a delicious Henze Weekend @ the Barbican that immediately appears as one of the most important musical events of 2010, with two UK premieres. Of Henze's latest opera Phaedra (that opened in Berlin and then was shown, in a different production, at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino -- Opera Chic was there to pay her respects to the great man) and of Henze's Elogium Musicum, his elegy for his late partner of more than 40 years, Fausto Moroni with Latin text by leading Classics scholar Franco Serpa. Elogium Musicum will be introduced on January 16, 2010, Oliver Knussen conducting in the the world's most musical concrete bunker. Mysterious, haunting Phaedra will grace the Barbican on January 17, 2010, in a concert performance. Be there or be lame.