Prominent personalities of the international music life have expressed great admiration for Nikolai Badinski’s music. György Ligeti characterizes it as “very refined, very highly rated in its quality.” The ‘musical Pope’ H.H. Stuckenschmidt praised the “unmistakable personal language” of his music in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and wrote that “one is captivated until the end”.
The notable musicologist Carl Dahlhaus has written that “Badinski combines a well-founded and many-sided musical education with an acute sense for contemporary tendencies; there is a balance between the inclination towards the experimental and an aesthetic conscience dedicated to structural unity.”
From a composer portrait by Andreas Göbel on kulturradio by rbb: “Nikolai Badinski is an astute composer of masterly craftsmanship and of broad knowledge. His repertoire of compositional techniques is rich [...] He composes with an own, individual voice…”
Nikolai Badinski was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 19 December 1937, and started to take violin lessons at the age of five. His attempts at composition also date from an early age (including an opera in which the orchestra consists exclusively of violins and percussion). In 1961, he completed the Academy of Music, Sofia. He lived in East-Berlin from 1962 to 1976, where he attended a Masterclass for Composition at the Academy of Arts (1967-70). He also took Masterclasses at the Accademia Musicale, Siena, Italy in 1975 and 1976. Badinski founded and directed the Chamber Ensemble „G.F. Händel“ and a String Quartet in East Germany, and worked as a composer, docent, soloist, concertmaster, and special advisor for musical education.
In 1976 he escaped from East-Berlin to the West. He actively participated in the Darmstadt International Courses for New Music (working with Ligeti, Halffter, Stockhausen, Xenakis and Kagel), several of his compositions were performed there. He has been guest professor at the Universities of Stockholm and Copenhagen, and lectured in several European countries. He was a visiting professor in Stanford University, USA. For many years he has worked intensively with various groups, seeking new ways to activate music listeners. He is a member of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM), the German Composer’s Union, the International Händel Society, the International Richard Wagner Union and, since 1983, the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities in Paris. He is co-founder of the Initiative Neue Musik, Berlin. Performances of his works and composer portraits of him have been broadcast throughout Europe, the USA and Asia. Some of his works have been performed by ensembles such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Symphony Orchestra of the Südwestfunk in Baden-Baden, the Arditti String Quartet London, the Philharmonic Octet Berlin, the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Ensemble of the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Choir of Radio France, the Nederland Vocaal Ensemble in Hilversum, and the Camerata Academica Salzburg. He has also written academic articles, focusing on contemporary music.
Badinski uses a richly varied palette of compositional devices in his music, without associating himself with any particular school, method or trend in composition. He often stylises or changes elements or micro-elements from Bulgarian and other Balkan folk music from various historical strata, as well as from sacred music, describing folk music as a rich source for research and inspiration. The composer’s musical aesthetics and creative work – his oeuvre comprises more than 200 works – also embrace new sound possibilities and their apperception, as exemplified in his electro-acoustic work H2O Music. Among his compositions are ballets, three violin concertos, a concerto for viola and orchestra, a concerto for harpsichord, three string quartets, a chamber music for different groups as well as for solo instruments, and experimental music.
Honours and prizes include first places at the 28th International Competition for Composition, Viotti, 1977, at the International Competition for Composers, Stockhausen, Italy 1978 and at the 29th International Competition for Composers, Viotti, 1978. He received the International Trieste Prize for Symphonic Music in 1979, the Prix du Rome (Villa Massimo) in 1979/80, and the Prix de Paris in 1981.
Since 1977 he is a freelance contributor to the BBC, London.
In March 2014, the Xiamen University – which, with more than 40.000 students, is one of China’s most important universities and of international renown – invited Nikolai Badinski to present his music and give lectures in the frame of the prestigious „Nanqiang” Lectures of Excellence. Furthermore, the composer was honoured with the badge of honour of the Xiamen University.
In the same month, Nikolai Badinski was invited by the Conservatory Shanghai to present and give talks on his music.
Painters in several countries – for instance J.C. Friedrich, Enzo Santini, I. Pavlov – have painted pictures based on his music, art-films were created presenting the composer and his music. Numerous CDs and LPs of his music have been released. Furthermore, his book … Between the sounds… (Zwischen den Klängen) has been published in Germany by Pfau.
His music is far from mere contrivance and shows a true creative impulse...all these compositions, while uncompromisingly ‚modern’, seem to aim at giving contemporary music a human voice. (Record Reviews, 1981)
The concerto (Violin Concerto Nr.3) was very successfully performed as world premiere with the Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra under Cristobal Halffter and Christiane Edinger as soloist. (Deutsche Tagespost, 1980)
Nikolai Badinski has created a remarkable and rich oeuvre. (Radio France, 1982)
His music has really a truly new sonority. (Radio RAI, 1981)
Badinski´s music displays an exciting richness of invention, an abundance of constructive solutions and a securely mastered professional knowledge. (Prof. Letschev at the Musical Weeks of Sofia, 1974)
Nikolai Badinski is a recognised composer of serious music; his works extend from symphonies over violin concertos, ballet music and small orchestral pieces, to chamber music for sometimes unusual instrumentation. (Die Tat, 1974)