Universal Edition - Blog

Happy Birthday Jay Schwartz!

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 26 Juni 2014

We wish you all the best!

Find out more about the music of Jay Schwartz in our in-depth interview with the composer:

On metamorphoses in composition.
On audience manipulation.
On the language of a composition.
On compositional techniques and instinctual hearing.

100 years in Vienna’s Musikverein

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 26 Juni 2014

Universal Edition, MusikvereinOn 26 June 1914,Emil Hertzka, who had assumed management of Universal-Edition in 1907, signed the rental agreement for the offices in Vienna’s Musikverein.

100 years on, we are still headquartered in the Musikverein. The same rooms once frequented by Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, Béla Bartók, Leoš Janáček and Kurt Weill are now patronised with equal ease and familiarity by Pierre Boulez, Arvo Pärt, Wolfgang Rihm and Georg Friedrich Haas.

Find out more about these 100 years in our latest issue of the Musikblätter.

The Cunning Little Vixen in Vienna and Stokenchurch

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 25 Juni 2014

 The Cunning Little Vixen, Wiener Staatsoper

Franz Welser-Möst and the Staatsopernorchester turn the instrumental passages into paintings of dazzling intensity. (Ljubisa Tosic, Der Standard, 20.06.2014)

This time, it’s the animals that are telling me a story about humanity, nature, the forest, life and death. (Interview with Otto Schenk, Kurier, 15.06.2014)

You can almost smell the forest. (Wilhelm Sinkovicz, Die Presse, 19.06.2014)

The Cunning Little Vixen, Garsington Opera

Emerging from the staged woodland of designer Robert Innes Hopkins into the leafy twilight with the Forester's transcendent meditation on nature still resounding in the ears has to be the most magical operatic experience of my year. (Katherine Cooper, WhatsOnStage, 24.06.2014)

Claire Booth exceeds even high expectations as a knockout Vixen in this superb rendering of Janáček’s opera (Guy Dammann, The Guardian, 23.06.2014)

Janáček would have approved. (Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 23.06.2014)

If you don’t know Janáček’s music, then this admirably clear-cut, beautifully sung production is the ideal place to start […] you’ll want more and more, and you won’t be happy until you get your annual Katya Kabanova and Jenůfa fix. (Melanie Eskenazi, music OMH, 24.06.2014)

The newly revised edition of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (edited by Jirí Zahrádka) is running in new productions at the Staatsoper in Vienna and at the Garsington Opera at Wormsley in Stokenchurch at the moment, and the critics’ reviews couldn’t be better. Click the corresponding links to read the full reviews.

José Manuel Barroso, president of the EC, visits Arvo Pärt

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 Juni 2014

Arvo Pärt and José Manuel Barroso walking in the forest in LaulasmaaJosé Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and Taavi Rõivas, Estonian Prime Minister, recently visited the Arvo Pärt Centre to create opportunities for preserving and researching the creative heritage of Arvo Pärt in his native country.

More photos are available on the website of the European Commission.

Watch a video of the visit here:


Braunfels’ The Birds in Osnabrück: “outstanding”

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 Juni 2014

vorne: Susann Vent (Zaunschlüpfer), Johannes Schwärsky (Prometheus), Almerija Delic (Drossel); hinten: Heikki Kilpeläinen (Ratefreund), Genadijus Bergorulko (Adler), Chor, Theater Osnabrück (c) Jörg Landsberg

“One of the world’s most outstanding musical theatre productions on the stage of the Theater Osnabrück” (Ralf Döring, Neue OZ, 22.06.2014)

“Too bad that the production will only be running for such a short period of time.” (Christoph Schulte im Walde, nmz online, 23.06.2014)

Yona Kim’s new production of Walter Braunfels’ The Birds [Die Vögel] was premièred on 21 June at the Theater Osnabrück, read the full (German) reviews by clicking the corresponding links above.

The “lyrical, fantastical game in two acts” will be running until 11 July.

Walter Braunfels: The Birds
a lyrical, fantastical game in 2 acts | 120'
24. and 26.06.2014; 04., 06., and 11.07.2014, Theater, Osnabrück; Johannes Schwärsky, Prometheus; Daniel Moon, Wiedehopf; Marie-Christine Haase, Nightingale; Osnabrücker Symphonieorchester, cond. Andreas Hotz

Daniel Moon, Wiedehopf, Theater Osnabrück (c) Jörg Landsberg

Letter to Michael and Kanon Pokajanen at the Pipeworks Festival

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 18 Juni 2014

Chamber Choir Ireland (c) Chamber Choir Ireland

David Fennessy’s choral work Letter to Michael will be performed together with excerpts from Arvo Pärt’s Kanon Pokajanen on Friday 20 June at this year’s Pipeworks Festival in Dublin, which starts today and runs until 27 June. Paul Hillier conducts the Chamber Choir Ireland.

The composer about the work:

A few years ago I came across an extraordinary piece of art by a woman named Emma Hauck. She was admitted to a German psychiatric ward about a hundred years ago diagnosed with schizophrenia. Whilst a patient there she produced pages and pages of text – thousands of lines in pencil which were addressed to her husband who had ceased to visit her. She simply wrote the words “Sweetheart Come” over and over again or sometimes just the word “come”. Every page is thick with overlapping text and some are so condensed as to be illegible.

I was deeply moved by these repeated pleas and feel strongly that the desperate passion that can be seen on these pages could only really be expressed with voices. I imagine a dense layering of a simple line; each voice adding to the power of the plea…

Emma Hauck


David Fennessy: Letter to Michael
for choir (16 voices) a cappella | 7'
Arvo Pärt: Kanon Pokajanen
for mixed choir a cappella
20.06.2014, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin; Chamber Choir Ireland, Paul Hillier

The Pipeworks Festival on Vimeo:

Pierre Boulez: complete solo piano music by Taka Kigawa

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 17 Juni 2014

Taka Kigawa (c) Kenji Mori

Banner Graphic (Greencastle, IN, USA)The internationally acclaimed pianist Taka Kigawa, who has recently been described as “an expert negotiator between freedom and restriction” (La Nacion, 5.3.2014), will perform Pierre Boulez’ Douze Notations on 18 June at the Greencastle Summer Music Festival.

On the morning the day after, he’ll do a Q&A with the audience at Classical 90.5 WUOL Louisville and give a free concert, performing Boulez’ 12 Notations, Première Sonate, Deuxième Sonate, Troisième Sonate (including Sigle), Incises and une page d’éphéméride. Find out more about the concert on WUOL.

In the evening of the same day, Taka Kigawa will be performing Boulez’ complete solo piano music at the DePauw University in Greencastle.

Read a preview article from Greencastle Banner-Graphic.

Kigawa will continue his piano recital tour on 25 August at Le Poisson Rouge in New York, followed by a trip to Japan in November.

James Joyce and music

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 16 Juni 2014

James Joyce, public domain

He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music. (James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)

There was a time when I was particularly attracted by the novelistic technique of Kafka and Joyce: their logic consists in leading you towards something new that you none the less think you recognize. This technique involves illusion and ambiguity and is of capital importance for me. (Pierre Boulez, Cité de la musique, Paris, 29 May 1998; translation: Stewart Spencer)

Find out more about Joyce’s influence on composers such as Boulez, Berio, Cage and Stockhausen on the excellent website The Modern World or in Scott Klein’s article “James Joyce and Avant-Garde Music”, or listen to an excerpt of Hans Zender’s opera Stephen Climax, which is based both on James Joyce’s Ulysses and on the life of Saint Simeon Stylites.


A “mesmerizing production” of ATTHIS in New York

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 16 Juni 2014

ATTHIS c Ruby Washington, The New York TimesCongratulations to soprano Ariadne Greif, Opera Cabal, ACME, conductor Peyman Farzinpour and director Habib Azar for their successful North American stage première of ATTHIS by Georg Friedrich HaasThe New York Times describes it as a “mesmerizing production [...] revealing art, bursting at the seams of control” (Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times, 13.06.2014)

Read the full article on The New York Times.

String Quartet No. 2: “one of Zemlinsky's greatest and most radical achievements.”

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 16 Juni 2014

Alexander Zemlinsky: String Quartets, Vol. 2 (Escher String Quartet), NaxosAndrew Clements of The Guardian has reviewed the Escher String Quartet’s recent recording of Alexander Zemlinsky’s String Quartet No. 2 which has been released on Naxos: “This second disc is as impressive, and includes a superb performance of the Second Quartet, one of Zemlinsky's greatest and most radical achievements.” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 12.06.2014)

Read the full review on The Guardian.

Tom Service and Harry Vogt on the Witten New Music Days

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 11 Juni 2014

Tom Service and Wolfgang Rihm (c) Tom ServiceWolfgang Rihm’s In Verbundenheit, which is dedicated to the Arditti Quartet, was premièred on 10.05.2014 at the Witten New Music Days, one of the world's leading contemporary music festivals.

This Saturday at 23:00pm CET/CEST, Tom Service talks to Harry Vogt, director of the Witten New Music Days, and they will play recordings from the festival, among them the world première of In Verbundenheit for string quartet.

Listen live on BBC Radio 3.

Gottfried von Einem: Melos and Logos

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 10 Juni 2014

Melos und Logos (c) Melos und Logos FestivalThis year’s Gottfried von Einem festival “Melos und Logos” takes place on 14 June in Oberdürnbach, Maissau. Among the works performed will be Einem’s String Trio (Aleksa Aleksić, vln, Nadežda Aleksić, vla, Ana Aleksić, vlc), Lotte Ingrisch will talk about the composer’s sources of inspiration.

The full programme can be downloaded on the website of the Gottfried von Einem Foundation.

ATTHIS in New York

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 10 Juni 2014

Opera Cabal: ATTHIS (c) Opera Cabal

The Chicago-based Opera Cabal partners with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (cond. Peyman Farzinpour) to present the first North American stage premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas’ monodrama ATTHIS, with lyrics by the ancient Greek poet Sappho.

Emmy Award-winning stage director Habib Azar directs the production, which premières on 12 June.

View the full score.

Albrecht Dümling on ATTHIS:

Georg Friedrich Haas begins his composition (named after a young girl who was Sappho’s pupil) with consonant sounds, as the voice emerges almost imperceptibly from the swelling major third in several string octaves. In slow motion, as it were, the singer recites the Greek words mete moi meli, mete melissa [“no honey for me, no bees”] on a single pitch – a lover’s lament, sung while the major third first turns gradually into a minor third, then a tritone and finally a seventh.

Then the German words untergegangen ist der Mond [“the moon is sunken”] follow, first as if spoken and then sung in cantabile melisma. The score calls for three types of singing: rough, in the lowest register, almost spoken, then cantabile,espressivo and melodious and, thirdly, as glissando, whereby the three types of singing must be clearly differentiated: “The effect should be like that of changing instruments, or imitating a vocal trio.”

Read the full text.

Georg Friedrich Haas: ATTHIS
for soprano and 8 instruments | 40'
staged prem. 12. and 13.06.2014, The Kitchen, New York; Ariadne Greif, s; ACME, cond. Peyman Farzinpour

love songs without words, dedicated to the ensemble recherche

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 06 Juni 2014

ensemble recherce (c) Maurice Korbel

During preparations for their 25th anniversary in 2010, the ensemble recherche came to the conclusion that “There are no love songs anymore!”. So they request such pieces for the celebration from various composer friends; more than 30 love songs were written in the process and more are in progress: one could almost speak of a new “trend”. (Kornelia Bittmann)

WERGO has recently released a two-and-a-half-hour double-CD set that features 30 love songs that are dedicated to the ensemble recherche – an ensemble that, since its founding in 1985, has premièred more than 500 works and released about 50 CDs, many of which have been awarded international prizes including the annual German Critics’ Award and the Diapason d’Or.

Their latest CD, which features works by Georg Friedrich Haas, Johannes Maria Staud and Hans Zender, has been highly praised by critics and public alike (“ensemble recherche’s amorous collection reclaims the love song from the embrace of pop music”, Andrew Clements for The Guardian) and already makes us hope for a follow-up CD.

ensemble recherche: liebeslieder; WERGO

Music for 12 Cellos in New York

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 06 Juni 2014

Jay Schwartz with Bálint Varga and Sir Harrison Birtwistle (c) Marion KalterJay Schwartz’ Music for 12 Cellos will be performed this Sunday by Music from Salem at Hubbard Hall.

The composer about the work:

This composition expounds on the spatial aspects of an ensemble of 12 cellists seated in a wide circle. A performance of this piece requires a spatial situation in which the cellists can be positioned in 12 equidistant positions around the audience. A three-dimensional sound experience and the illusion of travelling sound is achieved by this ensemble constellation, a sound metamorphosis which unfolds concretely around the audience.

In a concert of US premières Jay Schwartz’s M for baritone and ensemble has recently been performed at the Ny Phil Biennial. Matthias Pintscher conducted musicians of the New York Philharmonic, listen to the program on wfmt.

Jay Schwartz: Music for 12 Cellos
for 12 violoncellos | 20'
08.06.2014, Hubbard Hall; Music from Salem