Schott Music

Skip to Main Content »

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.

2020/05/11

Work of the Week – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s penultimate dramatic composition was as ambitious as its exceedingly long title suggests. From 15 May, Dutch National Opera Amsterdam’s production of The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya, conducted by Marc Albrecht, will be available to watch on OperaVision. Director Dmitri Tcherniakov, who was also the stage designer for the production, created a visual language that is both realistic yet magical, and which was highly acclaimed by the international press. 

The four-act opera is set in the mythical city of Kitezh and is likely to be inspired by a thirteenth century duchy at the Volga River. Legend has it the city disappeared while under siege by enemy forces. Rimsky-Korsakov combined this Russian version of the Atlantis myth with a retelling of the invasion of the Mongol army  during the thirteenth century.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya – “A Russian Atlantis”

This war is the backdrop for a love story between the virtuous farmer’s daughter Fevroniya and the Duke of Vsevolod. Their marriage is prevented by the assault of the enemies during which Vsevolod is killed. In her grief, Fevroniya prays for help for the people of Kitezh and a golden fog surrounds the city rendering it invisible to the invaders. Ultimately, Fevroniya also dies but the spirit of her fiancé brings her back to the hidden city where the opera culminates in a Wagnerian ascension of the loving couple. 

Prior to the opera’s premiere, Rimsky-Korsakov faced his own personal Kitezh when in 1905, as riots against the Tsar spread throughout Russia, he supported protesting students and was suspended from his professorship. Only when public opinion shifted in his favor and he was reinstated could the first production of The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya find its way to the stage. 

Marc Albrecht, conducting the ambitious and beautifully sounding Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, was not only able to form an arc of tension over three long and unshortened acts  of the masterfully crafted score. He also miraculously balanced the epic inner act and the lyric framing acts in a way that the action on the stage and in the pit came to perfect harmony. The production, subsequently to be shown in Paris, Barcelona and Milan is an ambassador for the huge masterwork by Rimsky-Korsakov which hopefully leads to a general revival of his operas. – Uwe Schweikert (review in ‘Opernwelt’)

The production, which is also available on DVD and Blu-ray, will be available to stream on OperaVision until August. The performance material is available from M.P. Belaieff publishers, exclusively distributed by Schott Music. 

photo: Dutch National Opera / Monika Rittershaus

2020/04/06

Work of the Week – Toshio Hosokawa: Meditation to the victims of Tsunami (3.11)

+++ After the following story was published, we learned that the concert and live-streaming had to be cancelled as well. +++

On 11 April, the NHK Symphony Orchestra will perform Toshio Hosokawa’s Meditation to the victims of Tsunami (3.11) as part of a livestream concert conducted by Masaru Kumakura. The concert has been organised to replace the orchestra’s scheduled public performance in response to ongoing restrictions of COVID-19.  Continue reading “Work of the Week – Toshio Hosokawa: Meditation to the victims of Tsunami (3.11)”

2020/03/29

Krzysztof Penderecki (1933–2020) – Obituary

With the death of Krzysztof Penderecki, the music world has lost an outstanding representative of the generation of composers who received their original impulses from 20th century avant-garde. As early as the late 1950s, Penderecki looked for and found new possibilities of compositional expression in the tension-filled area between noise and music. Thus, he unsettled the conservative concert audience, yet at the same time opened new artistic horizons and reached the forefront of the European avant-garde. After turning away from his early sound experiments, Penderecki was said to have taken a neo-Romantic turn. Unlike any other composer of his generation, he drew both criticism and admiration for his development as a composer. In the mid-1980s, he found himself in an exposed position right in the middle of the postmodernism discussion. However, Penderecki never followed a purely Orthodox movement. For him, the equation of avant-garde and tradition was no contradiction. He rather believed in the aesthetics of synthesis: ‘I have spent decades looking for and finding new sounds. At the same time I have studied forms, styles and harmonies of the past. I have continued to adhere to both principles …’. It was works like his Symphony No. 7 Seven Gates of Jerusalem, the opera The Devils of Loudun, the Polish Requiem and the monumental St. Luke’s Passion that made him one of the most internationally admired and frequently performed contemporary composers

“I work like a 19th century composer who had to know everything, even conducting.” (photo: Ludwig van Beethoven Association, Bartosz Koziak)

One of the last representatives of the large-scale form

Anyone who listens to the St. Luke Passion from 1966 today, with a distance of time, will not only discover experimental ways of composing but also find traditional elements in this work. It is not least the distinctive a cappella settings that revealed Penderecki’s close ties to historical composition techniques. Over the decades, the dense clusters of early works thinned into tonal structures, with complex sound surfaces taking second place to a rhythmically and melodically accessible score. Reminiscences to the late Romantic tradition of Bruckner, Mahler, Shostakovich or Strauss were chosen deliberately. ‘I am one of the last representatives of the large-scale form who writes everything: symphonies, operas, oratorios, concertos and chamber music. I work like a 19th century composer who had to know everything, even conducting.’

Pope John Paul II welcomes his friend Penderecki in Rome, 1983 (photo: Mari)

In numerous compositions, Penderecki embedded extra-musical content in; his sacred compositions often testify to his strong Catholic faith. With his music, he also set political accents time and again. The instrumental work Threnos was dedicated to the victims of the catastrophe of Hiroshima, the piano concerto Resurrection to the events on 11 September 2001. In the Polish Requiem Penderecki established connections to his native country in different ways. Lacrimosa was commissioned by the Polish trade union ‘Solidarnosc’ in 1980, other parts were written by the composer in memory of the victims of Auschwitz and the Warsaw Uprising. When the composer received the news of the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, he added Ciaccona in memoria Giovanni Paolo II. Penderecki never minced matters, not even when he was accused of embracing the aesthetics of Socialist realism in a Polish press campaign after the world premiere of Resurrection.

Faith and fugaciousness

For decades, Penderecki worked in close friendship with outstanding soloists. The composer’s catalogue of works contains numerous solo works for artists such as Anne-Sophie Mutter (2nd violin concerto Metamorphosen, among others), Boris Pergamenshikov (Concerto grosso) and Mstislav Rostropovich (Concerto per violoncello ed orchestra no. 2). He effectively learned instrumental tone colours and performance techniques by listening, and gave the performers as much space for development as possible. As Penderecki also wanted to share his love of music with the following generations of composers, he built the European Krzysztof Penderecki Music Centre not far from his country estate in Lusławice which has become a meeting place for musicians from all over the world.

Penderecki cultivated an extensive arboretum (photo: Krzysztof Wójcik)

In his eighth symphony Lieder der Vergänglichkeit, in which Penderecki set texts of famous poets on all aspects of the subjects ‘forest’ and ‘tree’ to music, he managed to combine his two great passions: music and his private arboretum where he collected more than 1,700 different kinds of trees. Just as the list of his commissioners, dedicatees and countless awards and distinctions provide information on his recognition in the international music world, so the trees collected by the internationally acclaimed conductor on his concert tours tell of his great love of and his close affinity with nature. After his seventh and eighth contributions to the symphony genre, Penderecki finished his 6th Symphony with the subtitle “Chinese Songs” for the world premiere in Guangzhou in 2017. Films like “The Shining”, “Shutter Island” or “Katyń” brought his music to the silver screen and home televisions worldwide.

Krzysztof Penderecki died on March 29 in Kraków, Poland.

 

photo: Schott Music / Bruno Fidrych

2020/03/23

Work of the Week – Hans Werner Henze: The Bassarids

With almost every opera house and concert hall around the world closed, we focus this week on a recent production of Hans Werner Henze´s opera The Bassarids, currently available for free on the online platform OperaVision. Reviews of Barrie Kosky´s staging and Vladimir Jurowski´s musical direction were splendid so this is a fantastic opportunity to explore the depths of this opera, considered a pinnacle of not only Henze´s dramatic output but of the entire mid-century classicism in opera.

The libretto for The Bassarids, written by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, is based on Euripides’ Bacchae; it tells the story of Pentheus, the new ruler of Thebes, banning the cult of Dionysus before being unwittingly drawn into the revelry by Dionysus himself, disguised as a stranger. Pentheus is eventually killed by his own mother, who has mistaken him for a wild animal, before Dionysus reveals his true identity and demands adoration from the Thebans for his revenge against the tyrant. The one-act opera’s large instrumentation and sophisticated libretto make The Bassarids an ambitious project. With Dionysus and Pentheus embodying two extremes of human existence, there is great potential for reference to the present day.

Today I consider The Bassarids, which I now understand to a far greater degree and hold much dearer than when I was composing the work, to be my most important music theatre work. It is […] still relevant for us, but specifically addresses questions associated with the years around 1968: what is freedom and what is bondage? What is repression, what is revolt and what is revolution? This is all in fact demonstrated, insinuated and suggested by Euripides. The multiplicity and richness of relationships, the tangible sensual relationships between the ancient civilisation of this Archaic period and our time are captured in Auden’s text; Euripides is transposed into our time in a manner which could not have been better achieved with the best possible stage production of the original Greek play, as we are constantly reminded of our distance from a different, long-gone civilisation. – Hans Werner Henze

The video will be available to stream on demand until 13 April and a final performance of the Komische Oper Berlin production is scheduled for 26 June.

photo: © Komische Oper Berlin / Monika Rittershaus

2020/02/07

Volker David Kirchner 1942–2020: music for human beings

“For me, it is vital to move and inspire individuals through music, listen to them and reflect on their problems.”

The composer and viola player Volker David Kirchner who was born in Mainz devoted himself to this artistic statement throughout his life.

Thirteen music dramatic works form the core of his comprehensive compositional output, including Gilgamesch which was premiered within the framework of the EXPO Hannover in 2000, but he has also composed two symphonies and a wealth of other compositions for orchestra, string orchestra and solo concertos. Kirchner’s catalogue of works additionally displays an opulent collection of vocal compositions, among them larger-scale pieces such as the Missa Moguntina (1993) composed for the city of Mainz.

Kirchner was however especially devoted to chamber music, enriching the repertoire with numerous works in a variety of formations, chiefly in classical genres including string quartets, piano trios and solo instruments with piano accompaniment.

Kirchner died in Wiesbaden on 4 February at the age of 77 following a brief serious illness. Schott Music is grateful for very many years of friendly cooperation.

2019/12/02

Lei Liang Wins the 2020 Grawemeyer Award

Schott Music is thrilled to announce that Lei Liang has been awarded the prestigious University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition for his orchestral work A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams.

In two movements, A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams meditates on the loss of landscapes of cultural and spiritual dimensions and implies an intention to preserve and resurrect parallel landscapes, both spiritual and physical. Norman Ryan, Schott Music New York, comments:

Lei Liang’s richly expressive compositional voice reflects the depth and diversity of human experience. Th e exquisite fusion of narrative, symbolic, and lyrical forms in his music heightens our consciousness of the world around us and invites us to embrace a universal humanity. All of us at Schott are deeply proud of Lei Liang and heartily congratulate him on this welldeserved honor.

2018/10/12

Thomas Larcher awarded 2018 Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco Musical Composition Prize

Schott Music is proud to announce that Thomas Larcher has been awarded the 2018 Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco Musical Composition Prize for his work Symphony No.2 ‘Kenotaph’. Continue reading “Thomas Larcher awarded 2018 Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco Musical Composition Prize”