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Wolfgang Rihm in Cologne, June 2007

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

Rihm is Head of the Institute of Modern Music at the Karlsruhe Conservatory of Music 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.


Rihm 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.

Rihm is an extremely prolific composer, with hundreds of completed scores, a large portion of which are yet to be commercially recorded. (Vide 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]

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.

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.[2] On 27 July 2010, Rihm's latest opera, Dionysus, based on Nietzsche’s late cycle of poems Dionysus-Dithyrambs, had its world premiere at the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, and designed by Jonathan Meese.[3] This performance was voted World Premiere of the Year (Uraufführung des Jahres) for 2010/11 by Opernwelt magazine.[4] He revised his Gegenstück (2006) for bass saxophone, percussion and piano, premiered on 16 August 2010 to celebrate the 80th birthday of Walter Fink.[5] Anne-Sophie Mutter premiered his violin concerto Lichtes Spiel (Light Games) in Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic on 18 November 2010.[6]

Selected list of works[edit]

Stage works[edit]

Orchestral works[edit]

  • Form / 2 Formen (2nd state)
  • Gejagte Form (1st version)
  • Gejagte Form (2nd version)
  • Jagden und Formen
  • Jagden und Formen (state 2008)
  • Symphonie n°1 op. 3
  • Symphonie n°2 (first and last movement)
  • Vers une symphonie fleuve I–IV

Solo instruments and orchestra[edit]

  • Violin
    • Gesungene Zeit
    • Lichtes Spiel
  • Viola
    • Bratschenkonzert
    • Bratschenkonzert n°2
  • Violoncello
    • Konzert in einem Satz
    • Styx und Lethe
  • String quartet
    • ”CONCERTO”
  • Clarinet
    • Musik für Klarinette und Orchester
  • Oboe
    • Musik für Oboe und Orchester
  • Bassoon
    • Psalmus
  • Trumpet
    • Gebild
  • Piano
    • Sphere
  • Harp
    • Die Stücke des Sängers
  • Organ
    • Unbenannt IV

String quartet[edit]

  • Grave
  • Quartettstudie
  • Streichquartett n°1–13

Vocal works[edit]

  • Voice and orchestra
    • 5 Abgesangsszenen
    • Drei späte Gedichte von Heiner Müller
    • Ernster Gesang mit Lied
    • Frau / Stimme
    • Hölderlin-Fragmente
    • Lenz-Fragmente
    • Penthesilea Monolog
    • Rilke: Vier Gedichte

Voice and piano[edit]

Choral works[edit]

  • Choir a cappella
    • Sieben Passions-Texte
  • Choir with orchestra or ensemble
    • Astralis
    • ET LUX
    • Vigilia

Solo instruments[edit]

  • Über die Linie (violoncello)
  • Über die Linie VII (violin)

Piano solo[edit]

Auf einem anderen Blatt

  • Brahmsliebewalzer
  • Klavierstück n° 1–7 1970–1980
  • Ländler 1979
  • Nachstudie
  • Zwiesprache 1999

Organ solo[edit]

  • Drei Fantasien


External links[edit]

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Wolfgang Rihm 'String Quartet no. 13'

Institute of Musical Research http://www.sas.ac.uk/ http://music.sas.ac.uk/ TITLE: Wolfgang Rihm 'String Quartet no. 13' ARTIST: Arditti String Quartet COMPO...

Wolfgang Rihm: Astralis (2001)

Wolfgang Rihm (*1952): Astralis (.Über die Linie" III), für kleinen Chor, violoncello und 2 pauken (2001). Rie Miyama, percussioni Dirk Wietheger violoncello...

Wolfgang Rihm : 2. Symphonie (1/2)

Wolfgang Rihm : 2. Symphonie für grosses Orchester 1/ Erster Satz Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR, Jonathan Stockhammer, direction.

Wolfgang Rihm - Lichtes Spiel

Year of composition: 2009 The title of Lichtes Spiel might be translated as "Light Game" or "Light Play", and may be taken as a pun on the German expression ...

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Anlässlich des 60. Geburtstags von Wolfgang Rihm haben Isabel Heine und Anna Becker (Studentinnen des Master-Studiengangs "Musikjournalismus für Rundfunk und...

Wolfgang Rihm: Sphäre um Sphäre (1992/2003)

Wolfgang Rihm: Sphäre um Sphäre, für ensemble (1992/2003). Ensemble Recherche diretto da Lucas Vis. *** The music published in our channel is exclusively ded...


ACADEMIA PARA LA NUEVA MÚSICA (CSMA) Nacho de Paz, Conductor [01.03.2011] http://academiaparalanuevamusica.blogspot.com.es/

Wolfgang Rihm · Hekton (1972)

Tianwa Yang, Violine Nicholas Rimmer, Klavier Ein Mitschnitt vom 26. März 2012 Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe, Schloss Gottesaue, Velte-Saal.

Wolfgang Rihm ~ Sotto voce Notturno

Sotto voce Notturno Wolfgang Rihm (1999) ....For piano and orchestra.... *Nicolas Hodges and Luzerner Sinfonieorchester*

Wolfgang Rihm - 7 Passion Motets, No.1: Tristis est anima mea

Rihm's 7 Passions-Texte were written between 2001 and 2006 for the ensemble singing in this recording, Singer Pur.

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112 news items

Broadway World
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:22:30 -0700

1, Wolfgang Rihm's Fremde Szenen III, and Dvo?ák's Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor, Opus 65. ENSEMBLES. Bassist/composer Edgar Meyer and mandolinist/composer Chris Thile team up on Sunday, October 12, 2014 at Sanders Theater to cross traditional ...
New York Times
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 06:07:30 -0700

The Staatskapelle's concert program includes Strauss's last song, “Malven,” in an orchestration by Wolfgang Rihm that will have its premiere at the Salzburg Easter Festival on April 14 and 19. A performance of the very first work he wrote for members ...

Washington Post

Washington Post
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:35:50 -0700

Next came the Quartet No. 4 by Wolfgang Rihm, a prolific composer who recently finished his 13th such work. It was almost a parody of pointless, atonal note-generation, liberally sprinkled with unnatural sound effects. Other than an opening unison ...

Washington Post

Washington Post
Mon, 24 Mar 2014 08:22:47 -0700

And though Eschenbach has championed some composers he cares about — Jörg Widmann, Matthias Pintscher and, next season, Wolfgang Rihm — he has not actually unfurled a real vision for the future of the orchestra, nor has he been as visible in the ...

Washington Post

Washington Post
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 14:43:06 -0700

Minguet Quartett The ensemble from Cologne, Germany, plays string quartets by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Wolfgang Rihm. Presented by Washington Performing Arts Society. 7:30 p.m. Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-785-9727.
Washington Post
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 21:28:08 -0700

Free, registration required. 202-364-7602. Minguet Quartet in concert, a performance of works by Haydn, Wolfgang Rihm and Mendelssohn, sponsored by Washington Performing Arts Society. 7:30 p.m., Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $35.

Badische Zeitung

Badische Zeitung
Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:09:57 -0700

Komponisten wie Hans Werner Henze, Wolfgang Rihm und natürlich Dmitri Schostakowitsch zollt er Respekt. Nur mit dem Dogma, nach Auschwitz könne man keine melodischen Gedichte mehr schreiben, will er sich nicht abfinden. Mit seinen "Liedern der ...

Kieler Nachrichten

Kieler Nachrichten
Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:11:15 -0700

sondern weil sich das von Wolfgang Rihm instrumentierte Klavierlied „Malven“, das erst 33 Jahre nach Strauss' Tod entdeckt worden war, nahtlos in den Kontext der anderen Lieder einfügte. Vielleicht setzt sich ja der Titel „Fünf letzte Lieder“ in ...

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