Tribute to Helmut Lachenmann on his 70th Birthday
Wed, 07.12.2005, 8 pm CET
Tribute to Helmut Lachenmann on his 70th birthday with a presentation of the new DVD
»Helmut Lachenmann/Furcht und Verlangen«
by Peider Defilla

In the presence of the composer.
Welcome by Peter Weibel.
Laudation by Gerhard R. Koch (FAZ)

“Beauty as the rejection of habit”, a maxim that has long been valid for the composer, Helmut Lachenmann (b. 1935), now appears increasingly appropriate to the preservation of pristine musical beauty. What began as an act of demonstrative refusal in highly political times now harbours a true gift – a whole galaxy of new sounds and playing techniques for traditional orchestral instruments. In the course of his life’s work covering every conceivable genre Helmut Lachenmann has managed the feat, (the historical consequences of which still await analysis), of actually overcoming the material barriers placed on instruments. His second maxim is: “composing means building an instrument”.

Every composition leads to a new instrument

Given the lack of any alternative, it was by no means a paradox that Helmut Lachenmann should have remained faithful to the traditional range of instruments. Every composition leads to a new instrument. In an act of registration similar to that of an organ, new, mostly very noisy sound fields are opened up and new forms of notation devised. This musique concrète instrumentale ennobles work on the instrument, as it does the artefact itself. Enabling the instrument to radiate in its new tonal beauty, however, requires an in-depth study of the legends with which Lachenmann prefaces every work. Admittedly, musicians are not always prepared to face up to this mostly self-critical process. Performances of his music have thus often been bound up with the crucial question of personal attitudes to contemporary music. Lachenmann’s dogged refinement of his resources as a composer has culminated, for the time being at least, in the sensational success of his opera Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern, which was premiered by Lothar Zagrosek at the State Opera House in Hamburg in 1997. Almost every performance was sold out.

In his work the Siemens Music Award winner has surrounded classical musical elegance – together with the virtuosity it demonstrates in the moment of sound generation that is produced half as noise, half in the traditional manner of playing – with a compositional cocoon so that after pupation the butterfly can climb to new musical heights. Helmut Lachenmann.
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