Wolfgang Rihm

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Wolfgang Rihm in Cologne, June 2007 Rihm Wolfgang Philharmonie koeln 0806 2007.jpg
Wolfgang Rihm in Cologne, June 2007

Wolfgang Rihm (born 13 March 1952) is a German composer.


Rihm is musical director of the Institute of New Music and Media at the University of Music Karlsruhe and has been composer in residence at the Lucerne Festival and the Salzburg Festival. He was honoured as Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2001.

Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe college of music in Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe's University of Music is a college of music in Karlsruhe, Germany. Originally the Baden Conservatory of Music, it was elevated to a Hochschule under the direction of Franz Philipp, who led the school from 1924 to 1942.

The Lucerne Festival is a series of classical music festivals based in Lucerne, Switzerland. Founded in 1938, it currently produces three festivals per year, attracting some 110,000 visitors annually taking place since 2004 primarily at the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre (KKL) designed by Jean Nouvel. Each festival features resident orchestras and soloists alongside guest performances from international ensembles and artists, in 2017 including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Emanuel Ax, Martha Argerich and Maxim Vengerov.

Salzburg Festival Festival of music and drama established in 1920

The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer in the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One highlight is the annual performance of the play Jedermann (Everyman) by Hugo von Hofmannsthal.


Rihm was born in Karlsruhe, Germany. He finished both his school and his studies in music theory (with Hans H. Eggebrecht) in 1972, two years before the premiere of his early work Morphonie at the 1974 Donaueschingen Festival launched his career as a prominent figure in the European new music scene. Rihm's early work, combining contemporary techniques with the emotional volatility of Mahler and of Schoenberg's early expressionist period, was regarded by many as a revolt against the avant-garde generation of Boulez, Stockhausen (with whom he studied in 1972–73), and others, and led to a large number of commissions in the following years. In the late 1970s and early 1980s his name was associated with the movement called New Simplicity. His work still continues to plough expressionist furrows, though the influence of Luigi Nono, Helmut Lachenmann and Morton Feldman, amongst others, has affected his style significantly.

Donaueschingen Festival music festival

The Donaueschingen Festival is a festival for new music that takes place every October in the small town of Donaueschingen in south-western Germany. Founded in 1921, it is one of the oldest festivals for contemporary music in the world, and among the best-known and most prestigious.

Gustav Mahler Late-Romantic Austrian composer

Gustav Mahler was an Austro-Bohemian late-Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era. After 1945 his compositions were rediscovered by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century. In 2016, a BBC Music Magazine survey of 151 conductors ranked three of his symphonies in the top ten symphonies of all time.

Arnold Schoenberg Austrian-American composer

Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg was an Austrian, and later American, composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He was associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. With the rise of the Nazi Party, Schoenberg's works were labeled degenerate music, because they were modernist and atonal. He immigrated to the United States in 1934.

Rihm is an extremely prolific composer, with hundreds of completed scores, a large portion of which are yet to be commercially recorded. (See the List of the compositions of Wolfgang Rihm, in German, or the IRCAM works list, in French). He does not always regard a finished work the last word on a subject—for example the orchestral work Ins Offene... (1990) was completely rewritten in 1992, and then used as the basis for his piano concerto Sphere (1994), before the piano part of Sphere was recast for the solo piano work Nachstudie (also 1994). (In 2002 Rihm also produced a new version of Nachstudie, Sphäre nach Studie, for harp, two double basses, piano and percussion, and also a new version of Sphere, called Sphäre um Sphäre, for two pianos and chamber ensemble.) Other important works include thirteen string quartets, the operas Die Hamletmaschine (1983–1986, text by Heiner Müller) and Die Eroberung von Mexico (1987–1991, based on texts by Antonin Artaud), over twenty song-cycles, the oratorio Deus Passus (1999–2000) commissioned by the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, the chamber orchestra piece Jagden und Formen (1995–2001), more than thirty concertos and a series of related orchestral works bearing the title Vers une symphonie fleuve. The New York Philharmonic premièred Rihm's 2004 commission Two Other Movements. In 2008 Rihm composed KOLONOS | 2 Fragments by Hölderlin after Sophokles for orchestra and countertenor, premiered in Bad Wildbad with the countertenor Matthias Rexroth. [1] [2]


IRCAM is a French institute for science about music and sound and avant garde electro-acoustical art music. It is situated next to, and is organisationally linked with, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The extension of the building was designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. Much of the institute is located underground, beneath the fountain to the east of the buildings.

String quartet musical ensemble of four string players

A string quartet refers to (a) a musical ensemble consisting of four string players – two violin players, a viola player and a cellist – or (b) a piece written to be performed by such a group. The string quartet is one of the most prominent chamber ensembles in classical music, with most major composers, from the mid 18th century onwards, writing string quartets.

<i>Die Hamletmaschine</i> (opera) opera by Wolfgang Rihm

Die Hamletmaschine is an opera composed by Wolfgang Rihm to a German-language libretto based on Heiner Müller's 1977 play of the same name. The libretto, subtitled Musiktheater in 5 Teilen, was written by the composer. The opera was composed between 1983 and 1986 and premiered on 30 March 1987 at the Nationaltheater Mannheim.

Invited by Walter Fink, he was the fifth composer featured in the annual Komponistenporträt of the Rheingau Musik Festival in 1995, in two programs of chamber music and Lied, also of Robert Schumann, including his works Fremde Szene I for piano trio, Vier Lieder after poems of Paul Celan, Klavierstück 7, Klavierstück 6, Das Rot, six songs after poems of Karoline von Günderrode, Antlitz for violin and piano, and Fremde Szene III. In 1995 he contributed Communio (Lux aeterna) to the Requiem of Reconciliation. In 2003 he received the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize.

Walter Fink was a German entrepreneur and a patron of contemporary classical music. He is known for being a founding member, executive committee member and sponsor of the Rheingau Musik Festival, where he initiated a series of annual portraits of international composers of contemporary classical music.

Rheingau Musik Festival 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.

Chamber music form of classical music composed for a small group of instruments

Chamber music is a form of classical music that is composed for a small group of instruments—traditionally a group that could fit in a palace chamber or a large room. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers, with one performer to a part. However, by convention, it usually does not include solo instrument performances.

In March 2010 the BBC Symphony Orchestra featured the music of Rihm in one of their 'total immersion' weekends at the Barbican Centre, London. Recordings from this weekend were used for three 'Hear and Now' programmes on BBC Radio 3 dedicated to his work. [3] On 27 July 2010, Rihm's latest opera, Dionysos , based on Nietzsche’s late cycle of poems Dionysian-Dithyrambs , had its world premiere at the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, and designed by Jonathan Meese. [4] This performance was voted World Premiere of the Year (Uraufführung des Jahres) for 2010/11 by Opernwelt magazine. [5] He revised his Gegenstück (2006) for bass saxophone, percussion and piano, premiered by Trio Accanto on 16 August 2010 to celebrate the 80th birthday of Walter Fink. [6] Anne-Sophie Mutter premiered his violin concerto Lichtes Spiel (Light Games) in Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic on 18 November 2010. [7]

BBC Symphony Orchestra British orchestra based in London

The BBC Symphony Orchestra(BBC SO) is a British orchestra based in London. Founded in 1930, it was the first permanent salaried orchestra in London, and is the only one of the city's five major symphony orchestras not to be self-governing. The BBC SO is the principal broadcast orchestra of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Barbican Centre arts centre in the City of London

The Barbican Centre is a performing arts centre in the Barbican Estate of the City of London and the largest of its kind in Europe. The Centre hosts classical and contemporary music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. It also houses a library, three restaurants, and a conservatory. The Barbican Centre is member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.

BBC Radio 3 British national radio station

BBC Radio 3 is a British radio station operated by the BBC. Its output centres on classical music and opera, but jazz, world music, drama, culture and the arts also feature. The station describes itself as 'the world's most significant commissioner of new music', and through its New Generation Artists scheme promotes young musicians of all nationalities. The station broadcasts the BBC Proms concerts, live and in full, each summer in addition to performances by the BBC Orchestras and Singers. There are regular productions of both classic plays and newly commissioned drama.

As professor he had students such as Rebecca Saunders.

Rebecca Saunders is a London-born composer who lives and works freelance in Berlin.

Selected list of works

Stage works

Orchestral works


String quartet

Vocal works

Voice and piano

Choral works

Solo instruments

Piano solo

Organ solo


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  1. Work in publisher's catalogue: http://www.universaledition.com/KOLONOS-2-Fragmente-von-Hoelderlin-nach-Sophokles-fuer-Altus-Countertenor-kleines-Orchester-Wolfgang-Rihm/komponisten-und-werke/komponist/599/werk/13176
  2. Wilske, Hermann (30 September 2008). "Rossini und Rihm in Wildbad". neue musikzeitung . Regensburg. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  3. Hear and Now: Wolfgang Rihm: Episode 1 BBC, March 2010
  4. Büning, Eleonore (29 July 2010). "Ich bin dein La-La-La-Labyrinth". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Frankfurt. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  5. "Das Herz der Opernwelt schlägt nun in Brüssel". Badische Zeitung (in German). Freiburg. 29 October 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  6. Hauff, Andreas (8 September 2010). "Ehrungen und Raritäten. Die Endphase beim Rheingau-Musik-Festival". nmz online (in German). neue musikzeitung . Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  7. Vivien Schweitzer (19 November 2010). "Pairing Wolfgangs From Two Eras". New York Times . Retrieved 23 August 2011.

Further reading