Universal Edition - Blog

King’s College celebrates Birtwistle’s 80th year

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 November 2014

Harrison Birtwistle (c) Universal Edition, Eric MarinitschThe King’s College Cambridge celebrates Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th year with the three-day festival ‘Secret Theatres: the music of Harrison Birtwistle’. Celebrations start with an interview between Harrison Birtwistle and Richard Causten on 6 November.

Among the works performed during the event will be the UE-works Secret Theatre, Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum, Silbury Air and Birtwistle’s arrangements of Guillaume de Machaut’s Hoquetus David and Ut Heremita Solus, played by acknowledged performers such as the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the Arditti Quartet.

The full programme is available on the website of the King’s College.

Find an interview with composer and lecturer Richard Causton, who is running the three-day festival on

★★★★★ Wozzeck: from poignancy to utter devastation

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 November 2014

“If the evening began poignantly, it ended, as a powerful performance of Berg’s opera must, in utter devastation.”

Find Kate Molleson’s review of a “compelling, beautiful and powerfully claustrophobic” semi-staged performance of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck at City Halls Glasgow on The Guardian.

Have a look at our study score.

Alban Berg: Wozzeck (c) Universal Edition


Wolfgang Rihm awarded the Robert Schumann Prize

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 03 November 2014

Wolfgang Rihm (c) Universal Edition, Eric Marinitsch

On 6 November, Wolfgang Rihm will receive the Robert Schumann Prize at the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. The prize is awarded every two years and was first received by Pierre Boulez on 1 December 2012.

Find out more on the website of the Academy of Sciences and Literature.

Ian Wilson’s Scoring History in Dublin

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 03 November 2014

Ian Wilson: Scoring HistoryIan Wilson’s series Scoring History featuring the Vanbrugh Quartet takes audiences on a journey through 200 years of the string quartet canon. Focused on four individual themes – Folk, Distant Lands, Conflict and Solitudes – each of the four concerts is devised to “connect with some of the most important and transformative events in human history” (Ian Wilson).

Scoring History starts on 7 November and takes place every Friday of the month. Among the works performed will be two works from the UE catalogue:

Ian Wilson: towards the Far Country
for string quartet | 30'
14.11.2014, Engineering Library of the National Concert Hall; Vanbrugh Quartet

Ian Wilson: ...wander, darkling
for string quartet | 20'
21.11.2014, Engineering Library of the National Concert Hall; Vanbrugh Quartet

Stage directions for the Austrian première of limited approximations

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 31 October 2014

limited approximations, stage directions (c) Konzerthaus Wien

limited approximations does not tell a story. As with all my compositions, there is also no formal development or traditional formal structure. Contrasting elements alternate with one another – moments of smoothness and friction. “Pseudo-glissandi” in the pianos arrive unexpectedly at overtone chords. Apparently stable constellations of intervals begin to falter as the twelfth-tones merge. (Georg Friedrich Haas)

Georg Friedrich Haas (c) Astrid AckermannThese are the Wiener Konzerthaus’ stage directions for Georg Friedrich Haas’ limited approximations, which will be performed for the first time in Austria this Sunday at Wien Modern by the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg (cond. François-Xavier Roth) and pianists Klaus Steffes-Holländer, Matan Porat, Florian Hoelscher, Julia Vogelsänger, Akiko Okabe and Christoph Grund.

A discussion between Wolfgang Schaufler and the composer will precede the performance.

Read the full work introduction by the composer, listen to an excerpt and view the study score here.

Georg Friedrich Haas: limited approximations
for 6 micro-tonally tuned pianos and orchestra | 30'
national prem. 02.11.2014, Konzerthaus, Vienna; Klaus Steffes-Holländer, Matan Porat, Florian Hoelscher, Julia Vogelsänger, Akiko Okabe, Christoph Grund, pno; SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, cond. François-Xavier Roth

Arvo Pärt on Tintinnabuli

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 30 October 2014

Arvo Pärt plays the piano and talks about Für Alina and Tintinnabuli (the video is in German):


Focal points Wien Modern 2014: Georg Friedrich Haas

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 28 October 2014

Georg Friedrich Haas, Wien Modern (c) Substantia Jones

Only one more day until the opening concert of Wien Modern 2014 featuring Georg Friedrich Haas’ concerto grosso No. 2 takes place. Cornelius Meister will conduct the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Klangforum Wien at the Konzerthaus Vienna.

As Wien Modern puts it, “the opening concert will mark the start of a musical journey that will, through the course of the entire festival, take audiences to new sound experiments and beyond” – we are thrilled!

View the full study score of the concerto grosso No. 2.

You’ll find out more about Wien Modern 2014 focal point composer Georg Friedrich Haas in our upcoming newsletter, which is currently in the making – stay tuned.

“One of the great operatic achievements of our time” turns 20: The Second Mrs Kong

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 October 2014

It’s been 20 years since Harrison Birtwistle’s 2-act opera The Second Mrs Kong was performed for the very first time on 24 October 1994 in Glyndebourne.

Die zweite Mrs. Kong, Wiener Operntheater When he reviewed the opera’s production of 2004 (which was also the latest production of the work), Andrew Clements of the Guardian described the work as “one of the great operatic achievements of our time.” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 11 November 2004).

Earlier, The Second Mrs Kong had received similar praise in Germany when a translated version was staged in 1996:

“eine kongeniale Vermittlung zwischen Tradition und Moderne […] Ein verspielter Geniestreich” (Reinhard J. Brembeck, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.02.1996)

Die zweite Mrs. Kong ist eine Perle unter den neuen Opern – hörfreundlich, amüsant, gefühlig” (Christina Osterwald, Die Rheinpfalz, 12.03.1996)

Happy Birthday Mrs Kong!

There’s also great news for another opera by Birtwistle: director Leonard Prinsloo’s and conductor Walter Kobéra’s Neue Oper Wien production of Punch and Judy has won the Arte Audience Award and the Award for Best Production. Find out more on the website of the Neue Oper Wien.

Watch the production of Punch and Judy on arte:

World première of the reduced version of Halffter’s Elegías

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 October 2014

Cristóbal Halffter (c) Universal Edition, Eric MarinitschRamón Tebar will conduct tonight’s world première of the reduced version of Cristóbal Halffter’s Elegías a la muerte de tres poetas españoles at the Auditorio Nacional de Música. Follow-up performances of the orchestral work are scheduled for on 25 and 26 October.

Cristóbal Halffter: Elegías a la muerte de tres poetas españoles
for orchestra, reduced version | 30'
24.10.2014, Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid; Orquesta Nacionales de España, cond. Ramón Tebar

Remembering Luciano Berio

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 October 2014

Luciano Berio (c) Universal Edition, Eric Marinitsch 

Today, 24 October, would have been Luciano Berio’s 89th birthday.

As you can see on our performance calendar of Berio’s works, the composer’s music is highly valued and frequently performed, and we’d like to draw special attention to the Staatstheater Kassel’s upcoming production of Un re in ascolto, which is scheduled for next May.

View the Centro Studi Luciano Berio’s entry on the 24th of October and their captivating page Per Luciano.

Read an extract from Umberto Eco’s article on Luciano Berio published in „Nuove Prospettive” (edited by Angela Ida De Benedictis) in our Musikblätter 4.

UE Newsletter mid-October 2014

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 21 October 2014

UE Newsletter, Photo: Oper StuttgartHere’s our latest digital newsletter:

- Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz at the Opera House Stuttgart

- Hans Krása’s long-thought lost opera Verlobung im Traum in Karlsruhe

- 6 UE world premières in October

View the newsletter online: German | English

Find out more: German | English

Bedford and Fennessy shortlisted for the British Composer Awards

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 21 October 2014

British Composer Awards

Congratulations to Luke Bedford, David Fennessy and Harrison Birtwistle, who have all been shortlisted for the 2014 British Composer Awards.

Bedford’s shortlisted single-movement work Renewal was premièred on 22 May at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Sian Edwards conducted the London Sinfonietta.

The composer on Renewal:

“Renewal is about creating something new from the rubble of each previous section. The piece is a celebration of renewal and regrowth, written in the full knowledge of its impermanence.”

Read the full text and listen to an audio excerpt of Renewal.

Fennessy’s Hauptstimme for amplified solo viola and ensemble was first performed in Huddersfield by violist Garth Knox and the Red Note Ensemble (cond. Garry Walker).

Read a work introduction by Fennessy and listen to an audio excerpt of Hauptstimme.

Luke Bedford: Renewal
View the full score of


David Fennessy: Hauptstimme
View the full score of


Klangforum Wien: Sound as Will

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 17 October 2014

Here's a look at the rehearsals of Wolfgang Rihm’s Sound As Will with the Klangforum Wien. The 20-minute piece for trumpet and ensemble will be performed for the very first time at the Donaueschinger Musiktage this Saturday morning, 11:00.

Klangforum Wien (c) Klangforum Wien

In the photo: conductor Ilan Volkov, composer Wolfgang Rihm, trumpet player Marco Blaauw and members of the Klangforum Wien.

The concert will be broadcast by SWR2, listen live.

World premiére of Cerha’s Nacht in Donaueschingen

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 17 October 2014

Friedrich Cerha (c) Frank Helmrich

The world première of Friedrich Cerha’s orchestral piece Nacht will open the Donaueschinger Musiktage tonight together with premières by Hans Zender, Manos Tsangaris and Hanspeter Kyburz.

SWR2The concert starts at 20:00 and will be broadcast by SWR2, listen live.

Cerha on Nacht:

“Composers are expected to operate as men of literature. They are supposed to write introductions to their works, author essays, give lectures. That means there are then musical elements in the foreground which are well presentable using linguistic means, or else – which is more often the case – ideologically and fashionably coloured aspects which are not necessarily crucially germane to the work concerned. Therefore scepticism could indeed be appropriate when considering what composers write; in reality, they are considered an authority in an area in which they are in fact dilettantes.”

Read the composer’s full work introduction.

Friedrich Cerha: Nacht
für Orchester | 20'
17.10.2014, Donaueschingen; SWR-SO Baden-Baden und Freiburg, Dir. Emilio Pomàrico

Vox Clamantis pay tribute to Arvo Pärt

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 17 October 2014


On the occasion of the Gerhard Richter exhibition at Fondation Beyeler, the renowned Estonian Gregorian chant ensemble Vox Clamantis paid homage to Arvo Pärt this August.
The Fondation Beyeler has uploaded a video of the stunning performance on YouTube:

Pärt had dedicated his choral work Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima to Richter, which was performed for the very first time at the exhibition.

Adrian Searle of The Guardian has recently published an article on the art of Gerhard Richter. Richter on his Double Grey paintings and Arvo Pärt: “We tried to make something together. He wrote a composition, and I made these.”

Read the full article on The Guardian.