Universal Edition - Blog

B-A-Cer-Ha: organ music by Cerha and Bach

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 16 April 2015

Wolfgang Kogert (c) Amelie Schillhuber

For me, the organ music by Friedrich Cerha and Johann Sebastian Bach is congenial. They are characterized by timeless features such as clarity, vitality, thinking in counterpoint, the economy of the compositional means and a pronounced sense of proportions. (Wolfgang Kogert)

B-A-Cer-Ha: organ music by Cerha and BachOn 18 April Wolfgang Kogert, organist of the Wiener Hofburgkapelle, presents his brand new recording “B-A-Cer-Ha” at the RadioKulturhaus in Vienna.

On the CD, Kogert juxtaposes Cerha’s Neun Inventionen and Neun Präludien with pieces by Bach.

A live stream of the evening from the RadioKulturhaus will be available on 18 April at 19:30. Listen live.

How we made the MusikSalon

Posted on 16 April 2015

Our new digital magazine, MusikSalon, was launched in time to celebrate Pierre Boulez 90th birthday. Here we give a bit of background on how we made the new site. 

We wanted to take our print magazine Musikblätter and turn it into an online resource, specifically making it pleasant to read on a desktop, and on a tablet and mobile device.

In addition we wanted to create a repository for all the articles that had been published over the last years – quite an undertaking.

We put the project out to tender internationally, and finally joined forces with Egger & Lerch for the design, and pixelpoems for the code. We already had excellent experience with both companies, and here once again the advantage of knowing how we tick was useful.

Egger & Lerch came up with a beautiful design and a very clear way of presenting a potentially endless list of articles, without it looking too much like a normal blog.

We resisted the temptation to include all the standard trappings of a news or blog site, including branded share buttons, tag clouds and comment boxes. From our experience online, and with Facebook and YouTube, we didnt want a long, thoroughly researched article on Bartók to be concluded with a comment saying Bartók is awesome. Maybe thats snobbish, but weve opted for clarity over democracy.

The only concession to usability in this sense is a small margin at the top of each article with Facebook and Twitter links, but unbranded. It was also especially important to have a print button that renders a proper print version of the page, and a download PDF button.

As soon as we were agreed on the design, pixelpoems set up the site in the Contao content management system, which we were already using on the UE and Wiener Urtext sites. We were open to using a newer system like SilverStripe, but in the end the familiarity and power of Contao won.

Of course the greatest part of the preparation was manually creating the archive of over 50 articles, tweaking the categories, selecting and cropping the images and getting the whole thing ready for the launch date – Pierre Boulez 90th birthday (a non-moveable feast). Egger & Lerch helped a lot with the older articles, and Johannes Feigl from UEs promotion department spent many an hour preparing the new ones.

We think weve come up with a handsome and useful presentation of a collection of wonderful articles – and weve found ourselves rediscovering old articles that we hadnt seen. We came in on time and on budget, and had a lot of fun on the way.

Head over to the MusikSalon and see what you think.

Music for Orchestra III by Schwartz in Vancouver

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 16 April 2015

Jay Schwartz (c) Universal Edition

There is something about using a form that is based on metamorphosis that could be considered slightly manipulating – manipulating the audience to come with the composer in a certain direction. Although manipulation can be understood as negative in many contexts. Perhaps manipulation in this context could be understood as narrating or luring, so that a conscious voice exists and not merely a collection of coincidences or random events.

The Canadian première of Jay Schwartz’ Music for Orchestra III will be performed on 18 April at the Orpheum Annex in Vancouver.

The full programme is available on the website of Vancouver New Music.

Find an interview with the composer titled “Metamorphosis of sound” in our digital magazine MusikSalon:

Metamorphosis of sound

The Excursions of Mr Brouček in Ostrava

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 14 April 2015

Leoš Janáček’s The Excursions of Mr Brouček will be performed on 16 April (and also on 9 and 31 May) at the Národní divadlo moravskoslezské in Ostrava.

Watch their trailer on YouTube:

Spanish première of in vain

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 13 April 2015

in vain, Zahir Ensemble

Simon Rattle called it “one of the first great masterpieces of the 21st century” and we cannot recommend it highly enough:

in vain by Georg Friedrich Haas will be performed for the very first time in Spain on 15 April at the Teatro Central in Sevilla. Juan García Rodríguez conducts the Zahir Ensemble.

Simon Rattle on in vain

concerto grosso No. 1 for four alphorns in Zurich

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 13 April 2015

Hornroh (c) Astrid Ackermann

The Swiss première of Georg Friedrich Haas’ concerto grosso No. 1 for four alphorns and orchestra takes place on 22 April at the Tonhalle in Zurich.

When interviewed about the concerto grosso No. 1, Haas described the alphorns as “the source of another dimension of intonation (overtone chords), used to create contrast and to expand the traditional twelvetone tuning of the symphony orchestra.” Kent Nagano conducts the hornroh modern alphornquartet and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.

Further performances of the piece take place on 23 and 24 April. The concert on 23 April will be broadcast live by SRF II at 20:00. Listen live.

View the full score of the concerto grosso No. 1

Trailer for Stockhausen’s early percussion music

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 09 April 2015

fascinating percussion works, meticulously performed (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 7.1.2015)

Mode Records has recently released a trailer for their DVD “Karlheinz Stockhausen: Complete Early Percussion Works”, which includes the UE works Mikrophonie, Zyklus, Refrain and Schlagtrio. The recording is available as 2-CD set.

Watch the trailer on YouTube:

Daniel Barenboim on Arnold Schönberg

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 08 April 2015

Peral Music has recently released the Vienna Philharmonic’s first recordings of Schönberg’s Piano Concerto with Daniel Barenboim under Pierre Boulez and the Violin Concerto with Michael Barenboim under the direction of his father.

Watch an interview with Daniel Barenboim on the new recordings:

Serbian première of Fennessy’s PPP

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 07 April 2015

David Fennessy

PPP is a piece about pianos (or, the pianos in my life).
It’s a piece about tuning (or rather, being out of tune).
It’s about memory (or, more accurately, remembering).
It’s about personal connections with instruments (and the people who play them); their history (and mine) and their imperfections.

The Serbian première of David Fennessy’s PPP for ensemble and electronics will be performed tonight with the composer himself performing on electric guitar at Studio M in Novi Sad. Also on the programme: Palais de mari by Morton Feldman.

Find out more.

David Fennessy on PPP

Boulez at 90: The Enfant Terrible of Modern Music

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 07 April 2015

ensemble intercontemporain (c) Luc Hossepied

If people complain of its atonality and difficulty, they should think of music from other cultures, which can sound equally alien and provide unequivocal evidence for tonal systems being the result of cultural conditioning. In this way, Boulez’s music can be seen as a universal music, rooted in the equally universal language of mathematics. (Emiel de Lange, Felix Online, 5.4.2015)

In a recent article on Felix Online Emiel de Lange explores the music of Pierre Boulez. Read the full article here.

On 23 April, Peter Eötvös conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in a concert dedicated to Boulez, on 28 April a birthday salute by ensemble intercontemporain and Matthias Pintscher takes place. Read more about the concerts by clicking the respective links.

A masterpiece at the ROH: MacMillan’s Song of the Earth

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 03 April 2015

Kenneth MacMillan’s highly acclaimed ballet to Gustav Mahler’s The Song of the EarthThe Financial Times recently called it a masterpiece – runs at the Royal Opera House until 14 April.

The choreographer succinctly summarized his ballet: “A man and a woman; death takes the man; they both return to her and at the end of the ballet, we find that in death there is the promise of renewal.”

Watch a video in which Royal Ballet principals Laura Morera, Nehemiah Kish and Edward Watson rehearse the piece with Monica Mason and notator Grant Coyle:

Cantio available on CD

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 03 April 2015

Vykintas Baltakas: CantioBaltakas is an enormous talent; he knows exactly what he wants and what he can justify musically - and he doesn't succumb to convention. (Reinhard Schulz, NMZ)

As a contribution to the discourse on opera's future, Cantio definitely has its qualities. (Gerhard Rohde, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

The recording of Vykintas Baltakas’ chamber opera Cantio from the festival Ultraschall in 2013 is now available as CD and accessible via all major online distributors. The CD was recorded in January 2013 at the Konzerthaus Berlin.


Posted by Johannes Feigl on 02 April 2015

Wolfgang Rihm: ET LUX, ECMIn this work text fragments from the Roman requiem liturgy can be heard; however not 'intact' and not in the correct liturgical order. They appear more as components reminiscent of a progressively realised whole. (Wolfgang Rihm)

ECM has released a recording of the Huelgas Ensemble and the Minguet Quartett performing Wolfgang Rihm’s ET LUX for vocal quartet and string quartet.

The CD includes a booklet with an introductory statement by Wolfgang Rihm and liner notes by Paul Griffiths and Wolfgang Schreiber.

Watch an interview with Wolfgang Rihm on ET LUX (German interview with French subtitles):

Victoria Borisova-Ollas: two Russian premières

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 31 März 2015 (Kommentare: 1)

Victoria Borisova-Ollas (c) Universal Edition, Eric Marinitsch“With her expressive and methaphysical attitude, Victoria Borisova-Ollas is absolutely unique in Sweden. In her Symphony No. 1, there is the same nervous touch, the same high tension and hot-temperedness, the same passion for an almost erotic game, with colliding harmonies and extended climaxes, as in Skriabin`s Le divine poème. The excitement lasts through the whole piece. Borisova-Ollas is able to create a charged atmosphere and she knows perfectly well how to use her weapons.” (Thomas Anderberg, Dagens Nyheter)

Tonight pianists Ludmila Berlinskaya and Nikolai Mazhara, conductor Nikolai Alexeev and the Saint Petersburg Philharmonia present the Russian premières of Victoria Borisova-Ollas’ Symphony No. 1 and her fantasia on the themes by Robert and Clara Schumann titled Wunderbare Leiden at the Saint Petersburg Philharmonia.


Pierre Boulez – 20th Century

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 30 März 2015

Pierre Boulez – 20th CenturyWhen Boulez turned 90 on March 26, he did so as perhaps the world’s most complete musician, and without doubt one of its very greatest conductors. The old stereotype has been almost perfectly inverted: Boulez is now lionized not only for his mastery of modern and contemporary works, but for the ability to elicit fresh sonic and structural details in works stretching back to the 19th century.

David Weininger on the Deutsche Grammophon’s 44-CD set “Pierre Boulez – 20th Century”. Find the full review on The Boston Globe.