Golden Lion for Wolfgang Rihm's lifetime achievement

Reading time: 2 min. Wolfgang Rihm

A Golden Lions for lifetime achievement for the Music sectors of the Biennale di Venezia has been made to the German composer, Wolfgang Rihm, whose works are frequently performed at home and abroad.

The award to Wolfgang Rihm was suggested by director Luca Francesconi for music, and approved by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta. The award ceremony for the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement for Music will take place during the 54th International Festival of Contemporary Music 30 September, 2010. In past years, the Music award has gone to Goffredo Petrassi (1994), Luciano Berio (1995), Friedrich Cerha (2006), Giacomo Manzoni (2007), Helmut Lachenmann (2008) and György Kurtág (2009).

“An extremely precocious talent”, states the motivation for the award, “Wolfgang Rihm has witnessed the great changes in almost 40 years of recent musical history, absorbing without ideological rigidity the most important developments of the era, themes that are as topical as ever. Rihm accepted the challenge of the most urgent expressive developments that exploded in the 1970s with the end of modernism, fighting with intellectual honesty and courage against the spectres of rational dogma and subsequently of post-modern cynicism; for instance, by reviving the lessons of Nono as of the early 1990s. Striving strongly towards a balance between expression and rigour, which is the most profound nucleus of the truest art. The music of Wolfgang Rihm is always rooted in the matter of sound, in rhythmic and harmonic force, with a lucid formal organisation often on a vast scale.”

Rihm’s first presence at the Biennale dates from 1981, for the significantly named “After the avant-garde” series. Another memorable occasion was the world premiere of In-Schrift for orchestra of 1995, performed in the basilica in Saint Mark’s square, for which the score was written, using orchestral instruments best able to exploit its acoustic possibilities.

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