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2020/09/14

Work of the Week – Toshio Hosokawa: The Flood

On 16 September, Ensemble Intercontemporain directed by Matthias Pintscher presents the world premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s The Flood at the Philharmonie de Paris. The work, which has been jointly commissioned by the ensemble and the Ojai Music Festival in California, was originally scheduled to premiere at the festival in June.

Continue reading “Work of the Week – Toshio Hosokawa: The Flood”

2020/09/07

Work of the Week – Jörg Widmann: Zeitensprünge

The Staatskappelle Berlin celebrates its impressive history as it marks its 450th anniversary this year. The earliest sources mentioning the orchestra date from 1570. On 11 September, the world premiere of a new work by Jörg Widmann commissioned specially for the occasion, Zeitensprünge (Leaps in time), will be given in a concert conducted by Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin State Opera House. 

The title Zeitensprünge is a pun about musical time-travel and stylistic escapades. Widmann explores the multiple stylistic periods through which the orchestra has lived during its long history, with the opening bars featuring an off-stage ensemble playing renaissance dances. Only when the musicians enter the stage does the idea of conducting start to take form, and a concert of today’s understanding commences. 

Jörg Widmann – Zeitensprünge: A Concerto for Orchestra in a nutshell

Though Zeitensprünge is a condensed 10-minute orchestral work of only 450 bars (one for each year of the Staatskapelle´s history), it nevertheless has everything a full-scale Concerto for Orchestra needs. There are solos from nearly every section of the orchestra, ensembles such as fanfares emerge from the texture, medieval winds and consorts play next to each other, and Widmann uses a variety of musical forms to lead to a brilliant final canon that symbolises many becoming one. 

“When I sit in front of a sheet of manuscript paper, I don’t keep thinking ‘you have to invent something new’. Not at all. My head is full of harmonies, connections and combinations that have never been heard before. My problem is to find forms for them. I am now in a stage of fighting to find these new forms.” – Jörg Widmann 

Photos:Marco Borggrve, Adobe Stock / spuno

2020/08/31

Work of the Week – Christian Jost: Concerto noir redux

2020 is the 200th anniversary of the Berlin Konzerthaus, a concert hall that started life as a theatre. In celebration of this anniversary as part of Musikfest Berlin, Christian Tetzlaff will perform the world premiere of a new violin concerto by Christian Jost on 6 September. The concerto, entitled Concerto noir redux, will be accompanied by Konzerthausorchester Berlin and conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. 

Concerto noir redux was originally intended to bear the same title as his opera Journey of Hope – Voyage of Despair. However, after the cancellation of the original premiere in March 2020, Jost chose instead to make changes to the music in response to recent events.

Christian Jost – Concerto noir redux: music from the lockdown

The result was not only a smaller orchestra, necessitated by social distancing, but a work that expresses a darker character and soundworld. Concerto noir redux is now one of two versions of the work Concerto noir, each with the same solo part.

Usually, I compose with a clear idea of the musical structure and of the sounds, and therefore of the course of the resulting work. But this time it was different. There was an initial thought for the opening in which the solo violin gradually separates from unison with the first violins. From this starting point the work should virtually compose itself. The resulting single-movement concerto with a single tempo (quarter = 76 espressivo) is driven by rhythmic ‘cells’. I completed the composition more or less simultaneously with the end of the lockdown, and since this had given rise to a work with predominantly dark shades of colour and sound, I considered Concerto noir to be a perfect title. Christian Jost

Photos: Adobe Stock / lakkot, Joe Quiao

2020/08/25

Heinrich Poos 1928–2020

Master of polyphonic choral music – an obituary

On 19 August 2020, the composer Heinrich Poos died at the age of 91. The composer, who lived in Rhineland-Palatinate and Berlin, stands in the great tradition of the polyphonic choral music of Heinrich Isaak, Heinrich Schütz and Ernst Pepping and is one of the most important German choral composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Poos was born on 25.12.1928 in the Protestant parsonage of Seibersbach (Soonwald). It was here that domestic and church music, together with his environment influenced by Protestantism, laid the foundation for his later thinking and work at an early age. After completing his amateur examination in church music in Oldenburg (1946), Poos studied at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule [Berlin School of Church Music] with Ernst Pepping, Gottfried Grote and Herbert Schulze (state examination in church music in 1954) and completed his musical education from 1955 to 1957 with Erich Peter and Boris Blacher at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. From 1955 to 1970 he worked as a choirmaster and organist in various Berlin communities. During that time, he also studied musicology, philosophy and theology at Freie Universität Berlin. In 1964 Poos received his doctoral degree with a thesis on the vocal œuvre of Ernst Pepping. After having worked as a lecturer of music theory at both Technische Universität Berlin and the Berlin Hochschule für Musik since 1965, he became professor of music theory at the Berlin Hochschule der Künste in 1971. After his retirement in 1994, he accepted a teaching position at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main. Poos was working as a musicologist and composer until his last breath.

Poos was always in “search of new music that rather wants to be music than new”. This search was “laborious”, he admitted in his essay “Beziehungszauber”. The fact that he underwent this effort again and again bore rich fruit in the form of an extensive œuvre, especially in the area of vocal music. His main œuvre has been published by Schott Music. It is characterized by masterful polyphony, bold sonority and an intellectual musical interpretation of the texts. In addition to Bertolt Brecht, whom he had met personally, his passion was for the writers of ancient Greece. With their subtle interpretation of texts, his choral works make major works of classical literature accessible to musicians and listeners of today. His important works include the choral cycles “Pax et Bonum” (1981), “Hypostasis” (Jakobs Traum, 1992), “Epistolae” (1999) “Zeichen am Weg” (1999), the Orpheus Fantasies (2001) and the Brecht cycle “Was hast du gesehen, Wanderer?“ (2006).

The compositional and scientific literary work of Poos has achieved great national and international recognition, including, among others, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1987), the Composition Award of the Union of European Choral Federations (1991), the Peter Cornelius Medal of the Rhineland-Palatinate (1999), and the Geschwister Mendelssohn Medal (2013). With him, we have lost a fascinating artist, who saw himself as a craftsman and a fighter for music and who emphasized in every publisher’s interview how much he enjoyed his profession. To the question “Mr. Poos, how are you?” he always replied: “I have work to do.

The Schott publishing house was privileged to accompany Poos for over six decades and is grateful for the creative, fruitful and always trusting cooperation. His works have found their place in the large and extremely rich repertoire of European choral music and will continue to resound – beyond this day.

2020/08/24

Work of the Week – Akiko Yamane: Arcade

On 26 August, Arcade, a new 20-minute orchestral work by Akiko Yamane will receive its world premiere at Suntory Hall, Tokyo. The concert, which is part of the 2020 Suntory Summer Festival will be given by the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Yoichi Sugiyama.

Yamane describes Arcade as drawing on the idea of drone music that programmatically expresses a consumerist society where the needs and desires of the people are seemingly under control. Below the surface, however, their internal desires and contradictions become apparent. Arcade has been commissioned by the Suntory Arts Foundation. 

Akiko Yamane – Arcade: State of uncertainty within a fragile society

I seek to depict this idea with a quality of sound that a person can feel on their skin. The sound fluctuates according to subtle changes within the listener’s body, or in accordance with a particular place or space and so on. In this piece, I stop and turn my attention to the various layers of sound and focus on their essence. Akiko Yamane 

Photos: Adobe Stock / topntp, Coco

2020/08/10

Work of the Week – Pedro Halffter: Dalí and Beethoven

The world premiere of Pedro Halffter’s Dali and Beethoven will take place at the Arp Museum inside the former Rolandseck train station at Remagen in the German Middle Rhine Valley on 16 August as part of the Beethoven 250 anniversary festival, BTHVN2020. The first performance of Halffter’s piano quintet has been much anticipated after the original premiere in March needed to be postponed. 

Dalí and Beethoven forges a link between the two iconic artists referenced in its title, with Halffter expressing a special affinity towards Beethoven – regularly conducting the composer’s symphonies – and that his own family shares a personal connection to Dalí. In turn, Halffter has drawn influence for his composition from a number of the painter’s works including an early portrait of Beethoven.

The venue of the premiere is itself dedicated to surrealist and contemporary painters – a fitting setting for the quintet’s premiere performance. 

The music should be understood as a sensory walk through a typical Dalí landscape in which I imagined being able to touch the imaginative figures. A meditative and yet highly contrasted essence is created within a surreal world of sounds and thoughts. (Pedro Halffter)

Pedro Halffter – Dalí and Beethoven: a link between two exceptional artists

Dalí and Beethoven was commissioned by the academy Villa Musica Rheinland-Pfalz and will be performed by young musicians alongside cellist Alexander Hülshoff and the composer at the piano. 

Festival attendees will be able to see the premiere performance of the work in two concerts at 11am and 3pm. 

Illustration: Adobe Stock / krisana, Photo: realcirculodelabradores

2020/07/28

Mikis Theodorakis: 95th Birthday on 29 July 2020

Mikis Theodorakis’ life has been characterised by his political commitment to the Greek people, personal persecution and banishment. For many years, the composer lived in exile in Paris, but returned repeatedly to his native country. During the 1960s, he was a member of the Greek parliament and held the post of a government minister from 1990 – 1992. In 1993, Theodorakis was appointed as the general music director of the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Hellenic Radio and Television. He gained an international reputation for his soundtrack to the film “Zorba the Greek” which is also available in a ballet version and as an orchestral suite. Theodorakis also composed cantatas, chamber music, and orchestral works. Many of his operas were based on dramas from Ancient Greek mythology. His oratorios Axion Esti and Canto General were performed worldwide.

Schott Music warmly congratulates Mikis Theodorakis on the occasion of his 95th birthday.

2020/07/06

Nikolai Kapustin 1937–2020

Jazz as a process of maturity

Obituary for the pianist and composer Nikolai Kapustin

The composer and pianist Nikolai Kapustin died on 02 July 2020 in Moscow at the age of 82.

Nikolai Girshevitch Kapustin was born on 22 November 1937 in Nikitovka, a suburb of Horlivka in the Ukraine. His mother introduced him to the piano while he was still a child and he created his first compositions at the age of 13, ultimately producing his first piano sonata. In 1952, Kapustin travelled to Moscow accompanied by Piotr Vinnichenko, his then piano teacher, to take the entrance examination for the Academic Music College. He studied piano in the class of Aurelian Rubach. In 1956, he passed the entrance examination for the Moscow Conservatory where he studied piano with Alexander Goldenweiser and received his diploma in 1961. Kapustin never studied composition as a specific subject, instead preferring to develop his abilities through self-tuition.

Kapustin first experienced jazz during his studies at the Music College and immediately recognised its natural mode of expression. He founded a jazz quintet while still at the Moscow Conservatory and became a member of the big band. After his final examinations, he joined the big band conducted by Oleg Lundstrem, a pupil of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. He composed works for this ensemble including his First Piano Concerto op. 2 in which he was able to place his own instrument at the heart of the composition. In 1972, he left the band to join the orchestra “Blue Screen”. After the dissolution of the ensemble in 1977, he was offered a position in the State Symphonic Film Orchestra under the direction of the conductors Georgy Garanyan, Yuri Serebryakov and Konstantin Krimetz. During this period, he composed his Second Piano Concerto op. 16 whose success offered him the opportunity to become a member of the Union of Soviet Composers.

Deep inside, everything was seething

From the 1980s onwards, Kapustin primarily dedicated himself to composition, but still played the piano, chiefly in performances of his own works for radio and television broadcasts. His music at this time was characterised by elements of jazz linked with classical forms such as the sonata and the suite.  The most striking features of his music were its seething nature, virtuosity and its almost physical attraction. The Suite in the Old Style op. 28 dating from 1977 is typical for his style with its interspersed jazz improvisations within a Baroque structure modelled on Bach partitas. Kapustin explained the apparent paradox of through-composed jazz present in his compositional output in his customary calm and modest outward manner:

I was never a jazz musician. I have never attempted to be a genuine jazz pianist, but have to slip into this role for the benefit of my compositions. I am not interested in improvisation – and what would a jazz musician be without improvisation? Any improvisation on my part has naturally been notated and has improved during the process which has allowed it to mature.

His compositional output includes numerous works for piano including a series of 20 piano sonatas and six piano concertos. This is augmented by concertos for solo instruments such as the cello and saxophone, compositions for big band, string and wind orchestras and chamber music for a broad spectrum of instrumental combinations.

From secret tip to worldwide phenomenon

Prior to the year 2000, Kapustin’s music had remained a secret tip among jazz musicians within the former Soviet Union, but since the beginning of the new millennium, his works have become known throughout the world via internet and become exceedingly popular among younger pianists due to their cross-genre character. The much accoladed CDs issued by Steven Osborne (2000) and Marc-André Hamelin (2004) featuring Kapustin’s works have also contributed to the composer’s international reputation. Today, his compositions find increasing popularity in the recitals of renowned pianists and are steadily achieving the status of classics of the 20th and 21st century.

With the death of Nikolai Kapustin, we have lost a fascinating artist and a genuine individual who achieved unexpected international fame in his mature years. We were only privileged to accompany him as his publisher for a brief period and are thankful for the years of creative and genuinely friendly cooperation.

2020/06/05

World Premiere of Toshio Hosokawa “Texture” at the Digital Concert Hall by Berlin Philharmonic

Toshio Hosokawa’s new piece, Texture for octet will be premiered at the Digital Concert Hall by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on June 6th. The first performer is the Philharmonic Octet Berlin.

Texture was co-commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation and the Japan Arts Corporation for the Philharmonic Octet Berlin, and is dedicated to the ensemble. The instrumentation of octet is the same as Octet D803 by Franz Schubert which is the ensemble’s specialty; clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin 2, viola, violoncello and double bass.

The instrumentation is divided into the following 2 groups; a group consisting of a string quartet and another consisting of clarinet, bassoon, horn and double bass. Each group plays melodies with a lively calligraphy-like shape, an unforced linear of the Eastern brushstrokes which is one of the characteristics of Hosokawa’s music. In this piece, like the Yin and Yang of the East, just as polar opposite elements, such as man and woman, high and low, strength and weakness, light and dark coexist and complete each other – become tied together without defeating the other, whilst gradually shaping the sound of the universe.

Toshio Hosokawa
Texture (2020)
for octet

World Premiere

June 6, 2020, 19:00  Philharmonie Berlin (Berlin, Germany)
June 7, 2020, 13:00  Philharmonie Berlin (Berlin, Germany) Broadcast from Digital Concert Hall by Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Philharmonic Octet Berlin (Wenzel Fuchs [clarinet], Mor Biron [bassoon], Stefan Dohr [horn], Daishin Kashimoto, Romano Tommasini [violin], Amihai Grosz [viola], Christoph Igelbrink [cello], Esko Laine [double bass])

2020/05/24

Happy Birthday: Enjott Schneider 70

Enjott Schneider, born in Weil am Rhein in 1950, is one of the leading German composers of film music with over 600 soundtracks and numerous awards to his name. His music for Schlafes Bruder, Stalingrad, Herbstmilch and many other films will never be forgotten. Schneider’s compositional output also includes full-length operas, oratorios, symphonies and concertos alongside chamber music, sacred works and organ music. As professor of music theory and later as Germany’s first professor of film music, he passed his knowledge to innumerable students at the Munich Musikhochschule. He has also displayed equal enthusiasm in his long-term post as a board member of GEMA [German performing rights association] (chairman from 2012 to 2017) and as president of the Deutscher Komponistenverband [German Association of Composers] to support his fellow composers.

Schott Music offers its heartfelt congratulations to Enjott Schneider on the occasion of his 70th birthday on 25 May 2020 and has recently published a new catalogue of his works.