Composer Portrait 2011
Hans Zender is our guest at the Rheingau Music Festival
Composer, musician and academic - Hans Zender is all of these and more, indefatigably endeavouring in all these fields to face up to the stylistic pluralism of post-modernity, in- deed to proactively embrace it, by both incorporating the era’s polymorphic heterogeneity in his compositions and embodying it in his own person. “Today I have come to realise that the most profound impulse of modernity is shift towards a (non-homogeneous, irre- ducible) diversity”, to quote his own writings. Because Hans Zender always underpins his musical oeuvre with musicological musings: “What can music be today?”, “A farewell from the enclosed form” or “Orientation. Composing in a post-modernist situation” are just some of the numerous essays from his fertile pen, simultaneously underlining how his compositional skills are complemented by cerebral ratiocination. Hans Zender was born in Wiesbaden in 1936 – the spa concerts there, he has related in an interview, formed part of his early musical education, in addition to radio broadcasts and the family’s shellac re- cords. At the age of 20, he began his studies in composition, piano and conducting at the Music Colleges in Frankfurt und Freiburg. Scholarships took him twice in the 1960s to the renowned Villa Massimo in Rome. As a conductor, he held senior positions in Bonn, Kiel, Saarbrücken, Hamburg and Hilversum, before in 1999 he was appointed the permanent guest conductor at the SWR Symphony Orchestra in Baden-Baden and Freiburg. In paral- lel to his work as a conductor and composer, Hans Zender was between 1988 and 2000 a professor of composition at the Music College in Frankfurt. In this conglomeration of inter- ests and remits, he says, over the course of his life there were repeated shifts of creative focus: while the beginning of his career was dominated by the need as a musician to pay due tribute to the “old masters”, with increasing maturity the composer Hans Zender him- self began to take centre stage. In view of the stylistic pluralism already adumbrated, it’s not easy to describe his work, but some recurrent aspects can be connoted by keywords: microtonality and anti-linearity, his distinctive timbre and the incorporation of elements from Japanese and Zen-Buddhist culture. His preference, too, for mysterious text originals is manifested in his settings for Hölderlin. To mark Hans Zender’s 75th birthday, the Rhein- gau Music Festival is holding two portrait concerts so as to provide an insight into the musical oeuvre of this exceptionally versatile and creative intellect. Introductions to the works, which Zender has authored for each of his pieces, will be highlighted in a personal interview with the composer.
Concerts 27 July Hans Zender interviewed 29 July Carolin Widmann, violin / Salome Kammer, soprano / SWR Vocal Ensemble
Stuttgart / SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg / Emilio Pomarico, conductor