Tilo Medek

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Tilo Medek
Jena Nordfriedhof Medek.jpg
Medek's grave in the Nordfriedhof in Jena
Tilo Gerhard Müller-Medek

(1940-01-22)22 January 1940
Died3 February 2006(2006-02-03) (aged 66)
  • Classical composer
  • Musicologist

Tilo Medek, originally Müller-Medek [1] (22 January 1940 – 3 February 2006), was a German classical composer, musicologist and music publisher. He grew up in East Germany, but was inspired by the Darmstädter Ferienkurse. He composed radio plays and incidental music. His setting of Lenin's Decree on Peace led to restrictions, and after he showed solidarity with the expatriated Wolf Biermann, he also had to move to the West, where he composed an opera Katharina Blum based on Heinrich Böll's novel, and worked in education. He received international awards from 1967 onwards.



Müller-Medek was born in Jena, the son of the composer and musician Willy Müller-Medek (1897–1965) and his wife Rosa (1902–1976). [2] He received musical training at the Jenaer Musikschule in violin, piano, improvisation and music theory. [3] In 1957 he attended the 12th Darmstädter Ferienkurse in the western part of Germany [4] where he took classes with Alexander Jemnitz, Luigi Nono, Hermann Scherchen and Karlheinz Stockhausen. [5]

From 1959 to 1962, he studied piano with Kurt Johnen in Quedlinburg. He received his Abitur in 1959, and studied then at the Humboldt University of Berlin, musicology with Walther Vetter, Ernst Hermann Meyer and Georg Knepler. [3] He also took courses in psychology with Kurt Gottschaldt  [ de ], in art history with Karl-Heinz Clasen, in theology with Lieselotte Richter and in garden architecture with Willy Kurth. He studied at the same time composition with Rudolf Wagner-Régeny at the Deutsche Hochschule für Musik in East Berlin. [3]

From 1962, Medek worked as a répétiteur for the ensemble of the Berliner Arbeiterjugend, and as a composer of radio plays and incidental music. In 1964 he wrote his thesis in musicology: Die Vertonungen von Goethes Prometheus-Gedicht. [3] In 1968, his work was first restricted, because of his compositions Das Dekret über den Frieden after Lenin's Decree on Peace , and "Battaglia alla turca" (later No. 1 from Lesarten an zwei Klavieren). [2] Lenin's text, slightly shortened, is set for speaker and percussion (Schlag-Idiophone, Schlagtrommeln), with the speaker in the middle of the audience, while the percussionists are positioned in the back of the audience in four corners, playing with growing intensity which in the end drowns the voice. [6] In 1977, Medek criticized the Darmstadt School and its influence in the GDR. [7] When Wolf Biermann had to leave the country on 15 July 1977, Medek protested and then also moved to the West. [2] [4] From 1982, he ran the music publishing house Musikverlag Edition Tilo Medek. [2] In 1984 he composed the opera Katharina Blum to a libretto by his wife, Dorothea Medek, based on Heinrich Böll's novel Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum ( The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum ). [8] Revised in 1986, it premiered at the Theater Bielefeld on 20 April 1991. [8] Medek died in Duderstadt in 2006. [9]


Medek's works included chamber music and piano pieces, and settings of poetry by Bertolt Brecht which were performed by singers such as Sonja Kehler. He composed many works for choir and orchestra, receiving international recognition for Die Todesfuge after Paul Celan's poem "Todesfuge". Medek composed two radio plays broadcast by Radio DDR 1. He wrote extended stage works, such as the opera Katharina Blum. He composed three symphonies: Die Eisenblätter, Die Rheinische, Die Sorbische, and several concertos for solo instrument and orchestra. He wrote many works for organ. He received awards for his Die betrunkene Sonne (The drunk sun) for speaker and orchestra, a melodrama for children on a text by Sarah Kirsch, [10] and for Kindermesse (Children's Mass), written in memory of the children murdered by the Nazis. [11]


Selected recordings

Music for radio plays


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  1. Jungheinrich, Hans-Klaus (22 January 2010). "Erinnerung an Komponisten Tilo Medek / Im Westen ungeküsst". Frankfurter Rundschau (in German). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Ginzler, Hildegard. "Der Komponist Tilo Medek" (in German). kreis.aw-online.de. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Komponist Tilo Medek wurde 65" (PDF). Novelletto (in German). Landesmusikrat Rheinland-Pfalz. 2005. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  4. 1 2 Herbort, Heinz Josef (29 July 1977). "Aus der DDR ausgereist worden: der Komponist Tilo Medek: / Terz als Tür, Oktave als Fenster". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  5. "Tilo Medek / deutscher Komponist, Musikwissenschaftler und Musikverleger" (in German). Munzinger. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  6. Noeske, Nina; Tischer, Matthias, eds. (2010). Musikwissenschaft und Kalter Krieg: das Beispiel DDR. Böhlau Verlag. p. 43. ISBN   9783412205867.
  7. Kelly, Elaine (2014). Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic: Narratives of Nineteenth-Century Music. Oxford University Press. p. 147. ISBN   9780199395187.
  8. 1 2 "Katharina Blum" (in German). operone.de. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  9. "Erinnerung an Komponisten Tilo Medek / Im Westen ungeküsst". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). 4 February 2006. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  10. "Medek, Tilo" (in German). operone.de. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  11. "Erinnerung an Komponisten Tilo Medek / Im Westen ungeküsst" (in German). Kunststiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2016.