Helmuth Rilling

Last updated

Helmuth Rilling
Helmuth Rilling 2013 (cropped).jpg
Rilling in 2013
Born (1933-05-29) 29 May 1933 (age 91)
Stuttgart, Germany
  • Choral conductor
  • Academic teacher
Awards Herbert von Karajan Music Prize

Helmuth Rilling (born 29 May 1933) is a German choral conductor and an academic teacher. He is the founder of the Gächinger Kantorei (1954), the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart (1965), the Oregon Bach Festival (1970), [1] the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (1981) and other Bach Academies worldwide, as well as the "Festival Ensemble Stuttgart" (2001) and the "Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble" (2011). He taught choral conducting at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule from 1965 to 1989 and led the Frankfurter Kantorei from 1969 to 1982.



Rilling was born into a musical family. He received his early training at the Protestant Seminaries in Württemberg. From 1952 to 1955 he studied organ, composition, and choral conducting at the Stuttgart College of Music. He completed his studies with Fernando Germani in Rome and at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena.

While still a student in 1954, he founded his first choir, the Gächinger Kantorei. Starting in 1957, he was organist and choirmaster at the Stuttgart Gedächtniskirche, conducting the choir Figuralchor der Gedächtniskirche Stuttgart. From 1963 to 1966, he taught organ and choral at the Spandauer Kirchenmusikschule, conducting the Spandauer Kantorei (Spandau chorale).


In 1967, he studied with Leonard Bernstein in New York and in the same year was appointed professor of choral conducting at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, a post that he held until 1985. In 1969, Rilling took over as conductor of the Frankfurter Kantorei (Frankfurt Choir). Since 1965, he has conducted the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, which often performs with the Gächinger Kantorei. He has toured widely with both ensembles.

He is well known for his performances of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries. Rilling is the first person to have twice prepared and recorded (on modern instruments) the complete choral works of J. S. Bach, a monumental task involving well over 1,000 pieces of music - spanning 170 compact discs. He has also recorded many romantic and classical choral and orchestral works, including the works of Johannes Brahms. In 1988, Rilling conducted the world premiere of the Messa per Rossini that he also conducted at the Rheingau Musik Festival in 2001, where he has traditionally conducted the final concert. [2]

Rilling co-founded the Oregon Bach Festival in 1970, and served as its artistic director until 2013. [3] He also co-founded and led the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart since 1981. In 2001, Rilling created the Festival Ensemble to be part of the European Music Festival Stuttgart ("Musikfest Stuttgart"). [2] Rilling became the Festival Conductor and lecturer at the Toronto Bach Festival in 2004.

Rilling was a teacher of chorale conducting at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule from 1965 to 1989.

Recordings and awards

Rilling's recording of Krzysztof Penderecki's Credo, commissioned and performed by the Oregon Bach Festival, won the 2001 Grammy Award for best choral performance. He received the Bach Medal in 2004. [4] In 2008, Rilling was awarded the Sanford Award by the Yale School of Music at Yale University. He was the 2011 recipient of the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize.

For Rilling's 75th birthday, his record label Hänssler Classic released his entire Bach edition on iTunes.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">María Guinand</span>

Maria Guinand is an internationally renowned choral conductor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rheingau Musik Festival</span> International music festival in Germany

The Rheingau Musik Festival (RMF) is an international summer music festival in Germany, founded in 1987. It is mostly for classical music, but includes other genres. Concerts take place at culturally important locations, such as Eberbach Abbey and Schloss Johannisberg, in the wine-growing Rheingau region between Wiesbaden and Lorch.

Gächinger Kantorei is an internationally known German mixed choir, founded by Helmuth Rilling in 1954 in Gächingen and conducted by him until 2013, succeeded by Hans-Christoph Rademann.

Bach-Collegium Stuttgart is an internationally known German instrumental ensemble, founded by Helmuth Rilling in 1965 to accompany the Gächinger Kantorei in choral music with orchestra. Its members are mostly orchestra musicians from Germany and Switzerland who get together for projects associated with the choir and also instrumental programs of their own.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart</span>

Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart is a foundation in Stuttgart, founded by Helmuth Rilling in 1981 to foster international concerts and workshops, namely Musikfest Stuttgart, dedicated especially to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach in relation to present day composition. Its director has been Hans-Christoph Rademann from 1 June 2013.

Ingeborg Danz is a German mezzo-soprano and alto concert singer.

James Taylor is an American tenor, known for singing the Evangelist in works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Adalbert Kraus is a German tenor in opera and concert, known for singing the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

<i>Was frag ich nach der Welt</i>, BWV 94

Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Was frag ich nach der WeltBWV 94 in Leipzig for the ninth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 6 August 1724. It is a chorale cantata, based on the hymn by Balthasar Kindermann (1664) on a melody by Ahasverus Fritsch.

<i>Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben</i>, BWV 109

Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben, BWV 109, in Leipzig for the 21st Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 17 October 1723.

Wolfgang Schäfer is a German choral conductor and academic teacher. He founded the Freiburger Vokalensemble, the BosArt Trio, and the Frankfurter Kammerchor.

<i>Zerreißet, zersprenget, zertrümmert die Gruft</i>, BWV 205 Secular cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach

Zerreißet, zersprenget, zertrümmert die Gruft or Der zufriedengestellte Aeolus, BWV 205.1, BWV 205, is a secular cantata or dramma per musica by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was written for the name day of August Friedrich Müller, and was first performed on 3 August 1725. The libretto by Picander is based on Greek mythology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hans-Christoph Rademann</span> German choral conductor (born 1965)

Hans-Christoph Rademann is a German choral conductor, currently the director of the Dresdner Kammerchor and the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bachwoche Ansbach</span>

The Bachwoche Ansbach is a biennial music festival in Ansbach, Germany, dedicated to the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach, held since 1947. The main venues are the Orangerie and the great hall of the palace Residenz Ansbach, and the churches St. Johannis and St. Gumbertus. Renowned international have performed in Ansbach, including Yehudi Menuhin, Gidon Kremer, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ludwig Hoelscher, Ferdinand Leitner and Karl Richter. In recent years, guests have included John Eliot Gardiner, Philippe Herreweghe, Ton Koopman, Andreas Staier, Martin Stadtfeld and Masaaki Suzuki.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bach cantatas (Teldec)</span> Album series released by Teldec

J. S. Bach - Das Kantatenwerk is a classical music recording project initiated by the record label of Telefunken in 1971 to record all 193 sacred Bach cantatas. The project was entrusted to Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt. Each conductor had his own instrumental ensemble, based in Austria and the Netherlands respectively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spandauer Kirchenmusikschule</span> German school of church music

The Spandauer Kirchenmusikschule was a music academy in Spandau, Berlin, Germany. Founded in 1929, it was housed in the Heinrich-Schütz-Haus in Spandau and was closed in 1998. The schools choir appeared and recorded as the Spandauer Kantorei. It was located in today's Berlin-Hakenfelde, and is also known as Berliner Kirchenmusikschule.

Gerhard Faulstich is a German baritone.

Hanns-Friedrich Kunz is a German choral conductor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Credo (Penderecki)</span> 1998 composition by Krzysztof Penderecki

Credo is a large-scale sacred composition for soloists, children's choir, mixed choir and orchestra by Krzysztof Penderecki, completed in 1998. It was commissioned by Helmuth Rilling for the Oregon Bach Festival, where it was first performed on 11 July 1998. Penderecki expanded the liturgical text by hymns and Bible verses in Latin, Polish and German. A recording won the 2000 Grammy Award for best choral performance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volkher Häusler</span> German conductor

Volkher Häusler is a German conductor, composer and church musician. He is artistic director of the MendelssohnKammerChor in Berlin.


  1. Malone, Andrew Lindemann. "Helmuth Rilling Biography". AllMusic . Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  2. 1 2 Festival Ensemble Stuttgart Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine , 2006 (in German)
  3. David Stabler (24 August 2011). "Oregon Bach Festival names Matthew Halls to replace Helmuth Rilling in 2013". The Oregonian. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  4. "Rilling ausgezeichnet". Schwäbische Post (Press release) (in German). Aalen. dpa. 30 April 2004. Retrieved 4 July 2018.