Helmut Lachenmann

Helmut (Friedrich) Lachenmann (born November 27, 1935) is a German composer associated with musique concrète instrumentale.

Life and works

Lachenmann was born in Stuttgart and after the end of the Second World War (when he was 11) started singing in his local church choir. Showing an early aptitude for music, he was already composing in his teens. He studied piano with Jürgen Uhde and composition and theory with Johann Nepomuk David at the Stuttgarter Musikhochschule from 1955 to 1958 and was the first private student of the Italian composer Luigi Nono in Venice from 1958 to 1960. He also worked briefly at the electronic music studio at the University of Ghent in 1965, but thereafter focused almost exclusively on purely instrumental music.

Lachenmann has referred to his compositions as musique concrète instrumentale, implying a musical language that embraces the entire sound-world made accessible through unconventional playing techniques. According to the composer, this is music "in which the sound events are chosen and organized so that the manner in which they are generated is at least as important as the resultant acoustic qualities themselves. Consequently those qualities, such as timbre, volume, etc., do not produce sounds for their own sake, but describe or denote the concrete situation: listening, you hear the conditions under which a sound- or noise-action is carried out, you hear what materials and energies are involved and what resistance is encountered". His music is therefore primarily derived from the most basic of sounds, which through processes of amplification serve as the bases for extended works. His scores place enormous demands on performers, due to the plethora of techniques that he has invented for wind, brass and string instruments.

His more important works include the music theatre work Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern (1990-96, after Hans Christian Andersen, Leonardo da Vinci and Gudrun Ensslin), the orchestral pieces Schwankungen am Rand (1974-75, for eight brass, two electric guitars, two pianos, four thunder sheets, and 34 strings), Accanto (1975-76, for clarinet, large orchestra and tape) and NUN (1997-99, for flute, trombone, male chorus, and large orchestra), the ensemble works Mouvement (- vor der Erstarrung) (1982-84, for three ad hoc players and 14 players) and "...zwei Gefühle...", Musik mit Leonardo (1992, (later incorporated in opera Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern), after Leonardo da Vinci, for two speakers and 22 players) and three string quartets (Gran Torso, 1971, revised 1976, 1988; Reigen seliger Geister, 1989; Grido, 2001), as well as other orchestral, ensemble and chamber works and six piano pieces.

He has regularly lectured at Darmstadt since 1978 and important among his many positions as a teacher was his term as professor of composition at the Stuttgarter Musikhochschule from 1981 to 1999. Among his students are Mark Andre, Alvaro Carlevaro, Clemens Gadenstätter, Harald Muenz, Manuel Hidalgo, Juliane Klein, Wolfram G. Schurig and Stefan Streich. He is also noted for his many articles, essays and lectures, many of which appear in Musik als existentielle Erfahrung (Music as Existential Experience) (Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden, 1996).

Lachenmann was awarded with many distinguished prizes such as the Bach-prize of Hamburg (Bach-Preis der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg) in 1972 and the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 1997.

In spring 2008 he was appointed Fromm Visiting Professor at the Music department at Harvard University. He was also a composer-in-residence at Oberlin College during the same time.

Further reading

  • Interview with Lachenmann in the November 2006 issue of new notes magazine:
  • An interview with Lachenmann appeared in issue 228 (February 2003) of The Wire
  • Feller, Ross. "Resistant Strains of Postmodernism: The Music of Helmut Lachenmann and Brian Ferneyhough." Within Postmodern Music/Postmodern Thought. Studies in Contemporary Music and Culture Volume 4. Edited by Judy Lochhead and Joseph Auner. New York and London: Routledge, 2002. Pgs. 249 - 262
  • Hockings, Elke. "Helmut Lachenmann's Concept of Rejection." Tempo 193 1995. 4 - 14.
  • Lachenmann, Helmut. Musik als existentielle Erfahrung: Schriften 1966 - 1995. Edited by Josef Häusler. Mainz: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1996
  • Lachenmann, Helmut. Struktur und Musikantik, nova giulianiad 6/85, Seite 92 ff.
  • ________. "Klangtypen der neuen Musik." Zeitschrift für Musiktheorie, i (1970), 21 - 30.
  • ________. "'Fortschritt'? (Irrtum ausgeschlossen 'nicht Foxtrott'?)" Musik-Konzepte, no.100 (1998), 56.
  • ________. "Begingungen des Materials." Ferienkurse 78. Mainz: Schott, 1978, Pg. 93 - 110.
  • ________. "Dialektischer Strukturalismus, Ästhetik und Komposition: Zur Aktualität der Darmstädter Ferienkursarbeit." Mainz: Schott, 1978, Pg. 23 -32.
  • Nonnenmann, Rainer. "Angebot durch Verweigerung: Die Ästhetik instrumentalkonkreten Klangkomponierens in Helmut Lachenmanns frühen Orchesterwerken." Kölner Schriften zur Neuen Musik, Vol. 8. Mainz: Schott, 2000.
  • Shaked, Yuval. Helmut Lachenmanns 'SALUT FÜR CAUDWELL', Eine Analyse, nova giulianiad 6/85, S. 97 ff.

List of Works

  • Fünf Variationen über ein Thema von Franz Schubert (Walzer cis-moll, D643) for piano (1956)
  • Rondo for two pianos (1957)
  • Souvenir for 41 instruments (1959)
  • Due Giri, two studies for orchestra (1960)
  • Tripelsextett for 18 instruments (1960-61)
  • Fünf Strophen for 9 instruments (1961)
  • Echo Andante for piano (1961-62)
  • Angelion for 16 instruments (1962-63)
  • Wiegenmusik for piano (1963)
  • Introversion I for 18 instruments (1963)
  • Introversion II for 8 instruments (1964)
  • Scenario for tape (1965)
  • Streichtrio I for violin, viola and cello (1965)
  • Intérieur I for one percussionist (1966)
  • Notturno for small orchestra and solo cello (1966/67)
  • Trio fluido for clarinet, viola and percusion (1966/68)
  • Consolations I for 12 voices and percussion (1967)
  • temA for flute , voice and cello (1968)
  • Consolations II for 16 voices (1968)
  • Air, music for large orchestra with percussion solo (1968-69)
  • Pression for cello (1969-70)
  • Dal niente (Interieur III), for clarinet (1970)
  • Guero piano study (1970)
  • Kontrakadenz for large orchestra (1970-71)
  • Klangschatten - mein Saitenspiel for three Konzertflügel (pianoforte) and string ensemble (1972)
  • Gran Torso, music for string quartet (1972)
  • Fassade for large orchestra (1973)
  • Schwankungen am Rand, for sheet metal and strings (1974-75)
  • Zwei Studien for violin (1974)
  • Accanto, music for solo clarinet and orchestra (1975-76)
  • Les Consolations for choir and orchestra (1976-78)
  • Salut für Caudwell, music for two guitarists (1977)
  • Tanzsuite mit Deutschlandlied, music for orchestra and string quartet (1979-80)
  • Ein Kinderspiel, seven little pieces for piano (1980)
  • Harmonica, music for large orchestra and solo tuba (1981-83)
  • Mouvement (- vor der Erstarrung) for ensemble (1982/84)
  • Ausklang, for piano and orchestra (1984-85)
  • Dritte Stimme zu J.S. Bachs zweistimmiger Invention d-moll BWV775 for three instruments (1985)
  • Staub for orchestra (1985-87)
  • Toccatina, violin study (1986)
  • Allegro sostenuto, music for clarinet , cello and piano (1986-88)
  • Tableau for orchestra (1988)
  • 2. Streichquartett "Reigen seliger Geister" string quartet (1989)
  • "...zwei Gefühle...", Musik mit Leonardo for speaker and ensemble (1992)
  • Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern Musik mit Bildern (Musiktheater) music with images - theatre music for very large orchestra and soloists (1988-96)
  • Serynade for piano (1998)
  • Nun for flute, trombone, male choir and orchestra (1999)
  • Sukura-Variationen for saxophone, percussion and piano (2000)
  • 3. Streichquartett "Grido" string quartet (2001)
  • Schreiben for orchestra (2003)
  • Double (Grido II) for string orchestra (2004)
  • Concertini for large ensemble (2005)
  • lost..., music for soprano and piano (2008)

External links

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