The Verkaufsstelle für Sammlermünzen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (VfS) have released (8th March) their first 20-euro silver collector coin in remembrance of the 275th anniversary of one of the country’s most well-known and admired national orchestras, the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig.
The Gewandhaus Orchestra claims the distinction as being the oldest continuing orchestra in Germany founded by the city’s ordinary citizenry, as older orchestras were usually founded by royal patronages or societies.
Since its founding in 1743, when a society called the Grosses Concert (or Big Concert) began performing in private homes until the next year when they found a permanent home at the “Three Swans” Tavern — their concerts continued at this venue for 36 years. However, in 1780, due to complaints by local residents about over-zealous behaviour by some concert-goers, the tavern was no longer considered a suitable venue and, as such, the mayor and city council of Leipzig offered to renovate one story of the local Gewandhaus — a building once used by textile merchants now set aside for the orchestra’s use.
As a token of its dedication to both their new venue and the city of Leipzig, the motto Res severa est verum gaudium ”true joy is an earnest thing,” a phrase attributed to the Roman author Seneca, was painted in the main foyer. The orchestra gave its first concert in their new home, the Gewandhaus, in 1781, and with this enigmatic start to their continued contribution to the musical culture of Leipzig, the Orchestra continued to build their reputation as a premier source of German music and exceptional talent. Just eight years after the Orchestra relocated to their new home, the famed composer and performer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) came to Leipzig and performed at the Gewandhaus, and it is possible that this performance ensured that the name of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig would be firmly placed on the map of excellence and would attract all of the important names of the day to perform.
This reputation was only increased further when in 1835, Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847), became the orchestra’s music director, with the traditional title of Gewandhauskapellmeister, a post he retained until his death in 1847.
As the orchestra grew in both number and popularity, and as several building extensions were added, the decision to build a new Konzerthaus (or venue) was inaugurated in December 1884 as “New Gewandhaus.” The building continued as the home of the Orchestra until 1944 when it was destroyed during the Second World War. The present Gewandhaus is the third building of the name and was completed by the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and opened in 1981 which was the only concert hall constructed by the GDR. The present venue can accommodate 1,900 spectators in the great hall with an additional 500 visitors accommodated in Mendelssohn Hall. The Great Hall’s crowning glory is the majestic pipe organ manufactured by the Potsdam-based company Schuke and includes four manuals, 92 stops, and 6,845 pipes. It also bears the original motto of the Gewandhaus hall “Res severa verum gaudium.”
The 2017 to 2018 season will mark the 275th birthday of the exceptional Gewandhaus Orchestra in which numerous anniversary celebrations will be part of the festive weeks with the greats concerts, chamber music, choral, and organ concerts. The culmination of all the celebrations will take place on the 11th March, the actual anniversary the Gewandhaus Orchestra, with a special concert which will be conducted under the direction of the new Kapellmeister Andris Nelsons. Until the 30th June 2018, the Gewandhaus will host an exhibition which highlights the history of the Orchestra and its founding and highlights the people behind the scenes and looks into their future.
The coin is designed by the artist Lucia Maria Hardegen from Bonn. The main motif on the obverse depicts and includes the actual logo of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, which is positioned along with a selection of text highlighting the names of outstanding musical personalities. At the heart of the design is the prelude to the upcoming anniversary concert represented by two hands conducting with a baton pointing to the artistic diversity of the Gewandhaus Orchestra.
The reverse side shows the face value of 20 EURO along with Germany’s official insignia, a stylised eagle with the inscription BUNDESREPUBLIK DEUTSCHLAND (“Federal Republic of Germany”). The mintmark “G” represents the State Mint in Baden, Wuerttemberg, along with the year 2018 and the 12 stars of Europe placed below the eagle. The fineness of the coin is indicated with SILVER 925, which is placed on the right side of the year 2018.
The edge of the coin is inscribed with the incused lettering ”RES SEVERA VERUM GAUDIUM,” which is the original motto of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and is translated as “true joy is an earnest thing.”
|€20||.925 Silver||18 g||32.5 mm||Unc.||800,000|
|£2||.925 Silver||18 g||32.5 mm||Proof||130,000|
The coin has been released since the 8th March as an Uncirculated coin and will be available for face value from commercial banks and post offices. The Proof version will be made available towards the end of 2018 in the complete set of 20-euro silver commemorative coins. For additional information about these coins and others available from the VfS, please visit their website.