Frederick the Great is remembered for his music, letters, wars – and potatoes…
Next week on the 24th of January Prussia (and Germany) begins a year-long celebration of the philosopher king, Frederick the Great (1712 – 1786). Throughout life his main interests were music, art, literature and philosophy. For years he was a correspondent of Voltaire with whom the king had an intimate, if turbulent, friendship. He was a proponent of enlightened absolutism and modernized the Prussian bureaucracy as well as promoted religious tolerance throughout his realm. Nevertheless he is also well known for his wars to conquer Silesia and later part of Poland. It was during the wars, which caused a number of devastating famines that the king started to promote “Tartuffoli”, potatoes, as “in a number of ways auseful plant for both people and animals” (1756).
On the 24th of January 2012 a fortnight of celebrations filled with concerts, lectures, debates and exhibitions will end in a grand party in Potsdam. For the middle-aged the event begins at 7pm with a baroque concert leading on to a wilder party at 10pm, where DJ Ipek Ipekcioglu breaks the mold with her remarkable and acclaimed Turkish/Electric/Groove performance. This time including a sampling of Baroque sounds.
For those who want to experience the life and times of the remarkable king the visit to Berlin should nevertheless be postponed until May, when a large and very important exhibition – Friederisiko – opens up at the world heritage sites of Neues Palais and Sanssouci, part of the twelve architectural palaces, garden landscapes and churches which may still be seen in and around Potsdam. The “Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg” stands as organizers. Visitors will have the possibility to get to know the personality of the king, which is the main theme of the great exhibition showcased in more than 6000m2 in 70 rooms; a number of which have not hitherto been opened to the public. A little earlier a huge exhibition at the German Historical Museum in Berlin examines his legacy in art, politics and historiography.
Later in the summer it is worthwhile to plot the weeks from the 9th to the 24th of June into the calendar in order to listen to all the concerts and talks planned in connection with the Music Festival Potsdam 2012. And even later in the autumn a number of other exhibitions are (probably) worth visiting. In July opens the exhibition on “The King & the Potato”, in August “Frederick and Potsdam – Inventing a City“ and even later there is the possibility to go to Köpenick, where Frederick spent his childhood and where he was forced to witness the execution of his childhood friend with whom he had tried to escape from his gruesome father.
The best place to get an overview of all the treats may be found here - unfortunately in German.
While consulting our diaries it may finally be well worth checking up on the many new biographies and books, which have been or are scheduled to be published during the year (Some are reviewed here but many more are in the pipeline.) This may be enjoyed while listening to the quite new double-CD, “Flötenkönig”, where Emmanuel Pahud plays music by Frederick, his sister, his teacher Quack and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who was member of the Royal Chamber Orchestra. Why not at the same time savour a fresh dish of potatoes served with pickled herring or butter and cream for the fainthearted?