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Bálint András Varga: Drei Fragen an 73 Komponisten

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 16 September 2014

Do today's composers draw inspiration from life experiences or from, say, the natural world? What influences, past and present, have influenced recent composers? How essential is it for a composer to develop a personal style, and when does this degenerate into self-repetition?

These are questions about which some of the most important composers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century often have quite strong feelings – but have seldom been asked.

For Three Questions for Sixty-Five Composers, Bálint András Varga, long-time member and companion of Universal Edition, has put these questions to 65 composers. Eight additional interviews have been included in the German edition of the book, which is published by ConBrio and was released earlier this month, on 5 September: Drei Fragen an 73 Komponisten.

A [German] preview of Varga’s interview with Alfred Schnittke is available on nmz.

We are proud to see that 24 of the interviewees are published by UE:

Gilbert Amy, Luciano Berio, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Pierre Boulez, Friedrich Cerha, Edison Denisov, Morton Feldman, Georg Friedrich Haas, Mauricio Kagel, Ernst Krenek, György Kurtág, György Ligeti, Arvo Pärt, Henri Pousseur, Steve Reich, Wolfgang Rihm, Peter Ruzicka, Alfred Schnittke, Gunther Schuller, Johannes Maria Staud, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Tōru Takemitsu, Gerhard Wimberger and Hans Zender.

Three Questions for Sixty-Five Composers

Drei Fragen an 73 Komponisten

 

Cerha and Beethoven at the Proms

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 15 September 2014

Listen to the Proms première of Friedrich Cerha’s Paraphrase on the Opening of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, which was performed together with Beethoven’s Ninth at the Prom 75 by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (cond. Alan Gilbert).

In the programme, Gilbert introduces the Paraphrase as “highly atmospheric […] [It] sets up kind of a wonderful stepping-stone from which you can enter the world of Beethoven 9. To me it sort of opens the world of possibility […] it lets the Beethoven really stand on its own.”

The composer on Paraphrase: “I hope very much that the gap between my Paraphrase and Beethoven’s work will not be perceived as an irreconcilable divide between two foreign elements, but that the pieces can instead be experienced as two related elements.”

View the full score of Cerha’s Paraphrase on Universal Edition.

A gift to Arnold Schönberg

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 15 September 2014

Schönberg, Gift (c) Arnold Schönberg

Arnold Schönberg’s birthday gift from his pupils for his 50th birthday: a beautiful album with their photographs and dedications. Read the whole book on the website of the Arnold Schönberg Center.

The Triumph of Time

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 15 September 2014

But the music’s real triumph lies in its unfaltering sense of movement. […] From start to finish the work treads like some implacable giant, and because its two main climaxes emerge from the bowels of a unitary experience they generate a violence and despair that transcend rhetoric. The word is on the tip of my pen and I can withhold it no longer. There are elements of greatness in this work. (Peter Heyworth, The Observer, 04.06.1972)

Harrison Birtwistle (c) Universal EditionListen to Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s The Triumph of Time in its entirety on BBC Radio 3 – the programme will still be online for 7 days.

Based on the homonymous allegorical painting by the sixteenth-century artist Pieter Bruegel, the 30-minute piece was first performed in 1972. This recording is from a performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Pierre Boulez.

Happy Birthday Arnold Schönberg!

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 13 September 2014

Happy Birthday Arnold Schönberg!

Arnold Schönberg (c) Universal Edition

This is the perfect opportunity to make mention of the “Schoenberg at 140” conference, which starts today, 13 September, the day of Arnold Schönberg’s 140th anniversary.

The conference is hosted by Department of Music and Performing Arts of the Canterbury Christ Church University, panel topics include 1914: Pierrot and His War – Arnold Schönberg’s melodrama Pierrot lunaire and the image of war, The Uncanny Topic in the Fünf Orchesterstücke Op. 16: A Key to Schoenberg’s Unconscious and also Aber Verleger und Autoren können auf Dauer nicht Freunde sein. Arnold Schoenberg and his Publishers.

View the full programme.

The Arditti Quartet at 40

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 12 September 2014

BBC Radio 3: Hear and Now

In the second episode of Hear and Now’s “The Arditti Quartet at 40” a performance of Wolfgang Rihm’s Fetzen and Fetzen 2 will be broadcast. The quartet was recorded earlier this year during a three concert marathon at the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court. The programme is presented by Ivan Hewett.

Listen to the performance and an introduction by Ivan Hewett live on BBC Radio 3 at 23:00 British Summer Time.

More Universal Edition radio highlights are available on our Performance Calendar.

Happy Birthday Arvo Pärt

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 11 September 2014

Arvo Pärt in his 80th year

Happy 79th Birthday Arvo Pärt!

To initiate the upcoming celebrations and honour the composer in his 80th year of birth, Universal Edition will be collecting upcoming performance dates, reviews, new CD releases and more on a dedicated blog. If you’ve got anything to share, let us know via hashtag #ArvoPart80 – get tweeting!

Brecht’s and Weill’s Der Jasager in Budapest

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 10 September 2014

Bertolt Brecht’s and Kurt Weill’s school opera Der Jasager will be performed today by Eszter Novák and students of the University of Theatre and Film Arts at the Budapest Festival Theatre. Zsolt Jankó conducts the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

The school opera goes back to the Japanese fable Tanikô, a play from the Nôh theatre. Weill composed Der Jasager in the first half of 1930, pausing only for the turbulent première of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny on 9 March 1930. The term “school opera” gave Weill a number of possibilities for combining the concepts of “education” and “opera”: the opera teaches the composer – or a whole new generation of composers – to approach the operatic genre in a new way. But it is also a question of re-training the process of operatic performance, with the end goal of staging the work so naturally and simply that children become the ideal performers. And finally, Weill also considered “school operas” as meant for use in schools: “it is thus essential that a piece for schools should give children the opportunity to learn something, beyond the joy of making music.”

 

Haas’ Ein Schattenspiel in South Africa

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 09 September 2014

Jill Richards (c) Jill Richards

Jill Richards, South African concert pianist and an acclaimed performer of new piano music, will perform Georg Friedrich Haas’ Ein Schattenspiel on 11 September at this year’s Unyazi Festival, which is part of the Fak’ugesi Digital Africa festival, in Johannesburg.

The concert pianist writes about her experiences with Ein Schattenspiel on her (highly recommended) blog:

But of course the interesting thing about Ein Schattenspiel is the real time sound processing. What I play is picked up, delayed, pitch shifted upwards by 50 cents and then played back. I am playing with myself, and need to read the “other” piano part so as to play in time with it. This is pretty interesting sometimes as I have perfect pitch and the pitch shifts play gentle havoc with my eyes and ears…what I read is not exactly what I hear!

Also the time delay becomes shorter and shorter, so it starts to feel like a real game of catch up – if I play too slowly, I will be overtaken by my “other” self.

Read the full text on Jill Richards’ blog.

An introduction to Ein Schattenspiel by Therese Muxeneder is available on the festival’s website.

Scenic world première of the Gurre-Lieder in Amsterdam

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 05 September 2014

The Dutch National Opera has opened the 2014-2015 season with an absolute first: the scenic world première of Arnold Schönberg’s Gurre-Lieder.

Watch their trailer here:

The Financial Times has reviewed the “hauntingly honest portrait of an era on the brink of extinction, with the frangible beauty of a fairytale castle soon to be crushed forever”, read the full text.

Furthermore, the Arnold Schönberg Center is presenting an exhibition on Arnold Schönberg in The Netherlands and Gurre-Lieder, find out more.

Arnold Schönberg: Gurre-Lieder
for soli, choir and orchestra | 130'
scenic world première, 02.09.2014, Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam; Waldemar, Burkhard Fritz; Tove, Emily Magee; Waldtaube, Anna Larsson; Bauer, Markus Marquardt; Klaus Narr, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke; Sprecher, Sunnyi Melles; Chorus of the Dutch National Opera; KammerChor des ChorForum Essen; Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Marc Albrecht; directed by Pierre Audi
further performances: 07., 12., 15., 18., 21. and 23.09.2014

A Portrait of Sir Harrison Birtwistle at the Proms

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 05 September 2014

BBC Proms

Despite a recent heated discussion regarding the BBC and new music, it is good to have Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th Birthday Prom by EXAUDI, the BCMG and Christine Rice at the BBC Proms tomorrow.

BBC Radio 3The “Proms Saturday Matinee 4: A Portrait of Sir Harrison Birtwistle” starts at 4pm CET/CEST (i.e. Berlin, Paris, Vienna), and will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

On the programme: Verses for Ensembles, Dinah and Nick's Love Song and Meridian:

Harrison Birtwistle: Verses for Ensembles
for 3 instrumental ensembles | 28'
Harrison Birtwistle: Dinah and Nick's Love Song
for 3 melody instruments and harp | 5'
Harrison Birtwistle: Meridian
for mezzo-soprano, 2 female choirs and instruments | 27'
06.09.2014, Cadogan Hall; Christine Rice, ms; Exaudi; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, cond. Oliver Knussen

Transitus in Cologne

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 05 September 2014

Wolfgang Rihm’sTransitus was commissioned by La Scala in Milan with the request that it should allude to the works of Richard Strauss. Tonight, on 5 September, the work will be performed for the first time in Germany, Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducts the WDR SO Köln.

The composer on how he deals with people who label Richard Strauss as a “conservative”:

Transitus scoreWhat am I supposed to deal with? – the label? – that people place it on Strauss and occasionally on me, too? In both cases, it depends on who is attaching the label; only then can you know what it means. What could it mean? “Conservative” could be a stance including thinking in avant-garde categories even today. If you look at it that way, of course I am not conservative. It’s too bad, actually, since the avant-garde nurtured me. But the designation “conservative” is mostly applied to someone who does not insensibly float along in the flow of the fashionable trends of the day. From that viewpoint, I can quite rightly and justifiably be called a conservative. And Strauss? – ask him yourself. He is still alive, in a senior citizens’ home in Darmstadt. He jogs over the cemetery there every day…

Read more.

View the full score of Transitus.

Wolfgang Rihm: Transitus
for orchestra | 15'
prem. 05.11.2014, Philharmonie, Cologne; WDR SO Köln, cond. Jukka-Pekka Saraste

New season at the Arnold Schönberg Center

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 September 2014

The Arnold Schönberg Center has revealed the programme for its next season, read it on issuu:

Mahler at the Proms

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 September 2014

Mahler at the BBC Proms

Here’s some trivia about about Mahler at the Proms.

Listen to the Prom’s Mahler collection on BBC Radio 3.

Arvo Pärt Days in Tallinn

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 02 September 2014

Arvo Pärt Days 2014The Arvo Pärt Days in Tallinn start today with performances of Adam’s Lament, Beatus Petronius, Salve Regina, Statuit ei Dominus, Alleluia-Tropus, Labbé Agathon, the Estonian Lullaby and the Christmas Lullaby:

Further concerts will take place on 3., 4., 6. 9, and finally on 11 September, the composer’s 79th birthday.

Find out more on our performance calendar.