Universal Edition - Blog

Music From the End of Time: Franz Schreker

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 Juli 2014


Franz Schreker: Die Gezeichneten (c) Universal EditionMichael Haas, author of Forbidden Music: The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis, has published a virtual exhibition on Franz Schreker on his website – a highly recommended guide to the most important ‘missing link’ in the history of 20th century music.

Conductor Ingo Metzmacher on Schreker:

Schreker was undoubtedly one of the last composers of this generation. A new aesthetic developed after the war. His personal fate as a “degenerate” artist in Berlin, who was driven out of office in 1933, attempted to emigrate and then died in 1934, is an additional factor. Like many others, he was simply forgotten – passed over. The Nazis did a good job on him.

Watch an interview with Ingo Metzmacher on the music of Franz Schreker.

★★★★ Morton Feldman: String Quartet No. 1

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 Juli 2014

Morton Feldman, mode recordsAndrew Clements of The Guardian has reviewed Mode’s new release of a CD and DVD box set of Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 1, the Three Pieces, and Structures, all recorded by the FLUX Quartet.

Read the full review on The Guardian.

Excerpt from the liner notes by Linda Catlin Smith:

The String Quartet No. 1 is a work of far-reaching scope, even grandeur. It is long enough to get lost in, and yet it has many recurrences or near-recurrences that offer moments of familiarity within this strange and beautiful music. The piece ranges through many different territories: the chorale-like succession of soft chords followed by the quietest of single notes; dense pizzicato thickets and lonely pizzicato tones...

Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos to design a new home for the Arvo Pärt Centre

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 Juli 2014

Arvo Pärt Centre by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos

The Spanish office Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos has won a competition to design the new home for the Arvo Pärt Centre in the woodland of Laulasmaa, west of Tallinn.

The winning proposal is conceived as a sequence of interconnected public and private spaces below a large single roof, for which not a single tree of the forest will be felled.

The new building for the Arvo Pärt Centre will open its doors to the public in 2018.

View a gallery of the project on dezeen.

Bystrouška in Hukvaldy

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 03 Juli 2014

Leoš Janáček, Monument of The Cunning Little Vixen in Hukvaldy (c) Kazuo Ikeda, crative commonsWhat he did, what he did not do – no law governed him except his persona. His music, his ideology – both are completely inaccessible if one does not find them spellbinding. Of course they enrapture the spellbound by luring them into an ocean of beauty with its own laws, where a slow, cautious approach is absolutely forbidden and impossible. (Max Brod on Leoš Janáček)

Today 160 years ago Leoš Janáček was born Hukvaldy, Moravia. 

View the study score of the first act of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen in the newly revised edition by Jirí Zahrádka.

ICWID! interview with David Fennessy

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 02 Juli 2014

David Fennessy at the rehearsals for Hauptstimme (c) Richard Greer

Photo (c) Richard Greer

Thomas Butler of I’ll Cadence When I Die has recently invited David Fennessy to talk about the composer’s latest works, including Hauptstimme and Prologue (Silver are the tears of the moon).

Listen to the full interview on ICWID!

Cristóbal Halffter receives the Kieler Kulturpreis 2014

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 30 Juni 2014

Cristóbal Halffter (c) Universal Edition, Eric MarinitschYesterday, 29 June, Cristóbal Halffter received the Kieler Kulturpreis 2014 at the town hall in Kiel. The Kiel Opera House and the composer can look back on a long and highly successful collaboration: two of Halffter’s three operas (Schachnovelle and Lázaro) were commissioned by the Opera House, and his Don Quijote celebrated its first German performance there.


Gustavo Gimeno conducts Mahler’s Ninth

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 26 Juni 2014

Camerata RCO, Gustavo GimenoTonight the Camerata RCO will perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 in Klaus Simon’s arrangement for chamber orchestra under conductor Gustavo Gimeno – who has recently stood in for Lorin Maazel and Mariss Jansons – at the Muziekcentrum van de Omroep in Hilversum.

Find out more on the website of the Muziekcentrum van de Omroep.

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.