Today marks 100 years since the birth of Jørn Utzon, the Danish architect responsible for one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, the Sydney Opera House. Utzon, who rose to fame after winning the 1957 international competition to design the Sydney Opera House, was born on April 9, 1918, and while he never saw his work on the Opera House complete (the controversy of his resignation after Minister of Works Davis Hughes ceased payments to the architect has been immortalised in The Eighth Wonder) and he was never commissioned by the Danish government, his legacy is being celebrated this year in both countries.
Jørn Utzon. Photo courtesy of the Sydney Opera House Trust
Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik kicks off the centenary celebrations today by opening the exhibition Horisont – an Opera House and a world of difference. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra will also visit Denmark as part of its European tour at the end of the year, performing at The House of Music in Aalborg, the town of Utzon’s birth. “The SSO is honoured to be performing the final concert of the tour at the Musikkens Hus (House of Music), Aalborg on Sunday 9 December 2018,” a spokesperson for the orchestra told Limelight. “The Musikkens Hus is adjacent to the Utzon Center, Jorn Utzon’s final building. The program will feature Bernstein’s Candide Overture, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations performed with cellist Andreas Brantelid and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony.”
A documentary by director Lene Borch, Utzon 100, also premieres today in Aalborg and will screen in Sydney later in the year.
The Sydney Opera House itself, which has re-established ties with the Utzon family in recent years, will be celebrating as well. “The Sydney Opera House is planning a number of activities in mid-October to jointly celebrate Utzon’s centenary and the Opera House’s 45th birthday,” a spokesperson for the Sydney Opera House told Limelight. “Several activities will be undertaken in collaboration with the Utzon Centre in Aalborg, Denmark, including hosting Horisont at the Opera House, an exhibition that highlights how Utzon’s travel studies of foreign, often ancient, building traditions influenced his work.”
More information about the Sydney Opera House’s Utzon centenary celebrations will be available closer to the time.