72. Wolfgang Rihm [365 Composers for 2013]


13th March – Wolfgang Rihm


Rihm (born 13th March 1952) is our composer for 13th March, to mark the day of his birth
Nationality: German
Lifespan: still alive
Genre: 20th century
Education: Karlsruhe Conservatory
Fame Ranking: 5

Rihm is a prolific German composer whose work can be described as post-modern; while many composers believe that you can only be either “romantic” (i.e. concerned with expressing emotion in music) or avant-garde,  but not both at the same time, Rihm rejects this hypothesis and combines the two elements in his works. His music has been dubbed the “new simplicity” – a musical movement which gained momentum in the 1970s and 1980s in Germany, as a reaction against the avant-garde works of composers such as Boulez and Stockhausen which were completely devoid of emotional meaning. The “new simplicity” movement was an active affair in Germany, but although several composers were writing in this vein only Rihm has managed to gain a reputation as a composer outside his homeland.

Rihm started composing when he was 11 years of age. In 1968, he attended the Conservatory in Karlsruhe, specialising in modern composition techniques. It was here that he was introduced to Schoenberg’s 12-tone system known as “serialism”. The following year he went to Darmstadt, which was the centre of German avant-garde music, to attend another course in contemporary music. After graduating he became a teacher, but mostly concentrated his time and efforts on composing, earning himself considerable acclaim. He has won several prizes and awards, including the prestigious Prix de Rome, which allowed him to study in Rome.

Rihm has composed literally hundreds of works, many of which have not yet been recorded. While some sources describe him as “prolific”, others, less kindly, have accused him of suffering from “diarrhea of the pen” (1). He has written works in all genres, for solo instrument, orchestral works, piano, vocal, choral, string quartets, opera and more.

Here is a short “Klavierstucke” (piano piece) by Rihm:

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Listen to more works by Rihm – click the box!


(1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/tomserviceblog/2012/sep/24/tom-service-guide-wolfgang-rihm


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