Celebrating Sir Peter

Benefit event in memory of Sir Peter Jonas (* October 14, 1946 in London; † April 22, 2020 in Munich). The proceeds of the concert will be donated to German doctors. An organization that was always close to Sir Peter Jonas' heart. German doctors is an internationally active non-governmental organization that sends doctors working free of charge to projects in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Kenya in order to sustainably improve health care on site. Further information and details about the organization can be found here: https://www.german-doctors.de/de/ueber-uns.

approx. 85 min

A celebration for Sir Peter



Whoever has heard him speak, whoever has experienced one of his speeches at premiere celebrations, whoever has seen his eyes sparkle, whoever has met him even once in the foyer of the Nationaltheater, will always remember the energy, the tense curiosity, the irrepressible interest in people that distinguished Sir Peter Jonas and with which he infected everyone who moved within his radius. For thirteen years, from 1993 to 2006, the London-born Briton with German-Jewish-Spanish-Lebanese roots was artistic director of the Bayerische Staatsoper. After positions with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the English National Opera, he was ideally prepared for this task. Initially regarded somewhat as an exotic by the people of Munich, he was soon esteemed and even revered. He brought Bayerische Staatsoper into the future, revamped and expanded the repertoire, opened up aesthetic approaches still unknown in this country and at the same time continued the centuries-old tradition and excellence at the highest level. In the process, he brought to the Staatsoper such diverse directors as David Pountney, Herbert Wernicke, Peter Konwitschny, and David Alden, discovered singers such as Anja Harteros, fueled the Handel renaissance in music theater, and commissioned no fewer than 14 world premieres. With Zubin Mehta, he brought an important conductor to Munich as chief conductor, thus establishing an artistic friendship between him and the house that continues to this day; in Ivor Bolton, he had gained a strong partner for baroque music. He made the performances of "Opera for All" at the Bayerische Staatsoper an institution for which Munich is the envy of the world (and which has since set a precedent). He has pushed the house to its limits (for which his thanks to the technical departments were effusive in the aforementioned premiere speeches) and confronted the audience with countless surprises. Far beyond his tenure, he was present at this house and to this day the spirit he implanted in it can be felt; to all his successors he lent his ear and joined in the discussion wherever he was asked for advice and opinion. "The dead are still alive" - this is how he sometimes greeted acquaintances who had not seen him for a long time. He, whom doctors had already given only a few months to live in his early thirties, seemed almost indestructible; even the trek from Scotland to Sicily he wrested from his weakening constitution. But in the spring of 2020 the attacks of the treacherous disease became too strong. When death prevailed on April 22, 2020, the entire world of opera and music lovers mourned with his wife and loved ones and all those who were close to him. The Corona pandemic has so far not allowed those united in this mourning to gather to say farewell to Sir Peter together. Now that it seems possible again such a celebration is planned – a gathering to recall his life and work: with music chosen by himself, interpreted by artists who accompanied his journey (amongst them Daniel Barenboim, Ivor Bolton, and Zubin Mehta, conducting the Staatsorchester and the Staatsopernchor), with film clips documenting his work, and a speech quoting his own words reflecting his concerns. May his love for opera and his enthusiasm for art be revived on this day.



Julia Glesner, biographer of Sir Peter Jonas, speaks about the work and last days of Sir Peter Jonas at the memorial concert. With moving words, she pays tribute to him and his love for opera. You can now read the text of the speech again here or download it as a PDF.