In his youth, Steffen FAHL received piano tuition from composer Martin Almstedt, and chamber musician and pianist Gerrit Zitterbart, among others. At the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz he studied piano with Jean Sebastian Benda (a former pupil of Edwin Fischer), plus vocal and instrumental music education and jazz piano with Harald Neuwirth, consolidated by interpretation and master classes with teachers such as Hans Leygraf, Lew Naumov and Jürgen Uhde. His doctoral dissertation in musicology was on Robert Kahn, at the Freie Universität Berlin under the supervision of Prof Rudolph Stephan, and led to publications and invitations to give lectures, including at the Royal College of Music London. In his web project, klassik-resampled.de, Steffen Fahl has been taking up the challenge of modern sample libraries to make traditional instruments available digitally. Various sample library producers now use digital realisations by Steffen Fahl to advertise their products. In some cases, collaborations lasting several years have developed, for example with piano sample producers Synthogy (Massachusetts) and producers of sampled historical keyboard instruments Realsamples (Karlsruhe). Fahl combines the use of sample libraries with the academic and interpretational exploration of historical repertoire. As an experiment in quasi “historically informed digital performance practice”, for example, klassik-resampled enables listeners to hear Handel’s Dixit Dominus performed with boys’ and men’s voices only, as was standard in early 18th century church music. Other experiments contrast interpretations of Bach’s Clavierübungen, Haydn’s 54 piano sonatas or Eduard Franck’s early piano works on the sampled modern grand piano with interpretations on sampled historical instruments from the relevant era and region. Ravel’s Tzigane was recorded using the sampled version of the only surviving original example of the instrument for which it was written, the luthéal, from the musical instruments museum in Brussels. Using sample libraries, the klassik-resampled web project facilitates the discovery of even unfamiliar repertoire. Of the 2,600 mp3 files available to listen to on klassik-resampled, around 700 are premiere recordings of works spanning over 400 years, presented on klassik-resampled. These include premiere recordings of the cantatas of G.A. Benda, which were produced from manuscripts in collaboration with the Bach Institute in Leipzig and then performed at the Leipzig Bachfest. Fahl’s premiere recording of Jean Louis Nicodé’s Gloria! symphony was reviewed by the French classical music magazine, Diapason. At over two hours long, it is by far the longest symphony of the Classical/Romantic traditions. The premiere recordings on klassik-resampled.de also include over 300 of the 1,160 pieces from Robert Kahn’s Tagebuch in Tönen. As part of a complete set of recordings of all of Alban Berg’s non-dramatic works, klassik-resampled has produced a large number of works and fragments by Berg that had never been recorded, some of which had never even been published. These premiere recordings also include several works by “suppressed” composers, such as the concert pieces of resistance fighter and Auschwitz prisoner, Nico Richter. Other premiere recordings have also been created in collaboration with living composers, including Alan Belkin (pupil of Elliott Carter), Rick LaSalle and Martin Almstedt. MIDI files produced by Fahl have been performed in concerts on various occasions, such as on the MIDI-compatible concert organ in the Budapest Palace of Arts, at the organ museum in Amsterdam and at the concert hall in Dresden College of Music. Fahl currently lives in Göttingen, where he works as a freelance music producer and musicologist.
2015 - Kammersymphonie Berlin, Dirigent Jürgen Bruns
The Kammersymphonie Berlin was founded by members of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (now the Konzerthaus Orchestra), the Staatskapelle Berlin and musicians from the Komische Oper and Deutsche Oper orchestras. In January 1991 the ensemble gave its first concert, quickly making a name for itself on the Berlin concert scene and beyond. While still in its early stages, the orchestra, under its artistic director, Jürgen Bruns, focused on orchestral music that was highly respected and yet seldom played, ranging from major symphonic works to intimate chamber music, which it performed alongside traditional repertoire. At the heart of this stood works from the Classical Modern period and the suppressed music of the early 20th century. There was a fascinating, diverse music scene in Berlin during this period. In the last 20 years the chamber orchestra has collaborated with notable composers such as Alfred Schnittke and Jean Françaix and given German premieres of works by Schreker, Glasunow and Milhaud, among others. While the programmes primarily focus on the music of the early 20th century, the themed concerts also include crossovers to other musical eras. As a result, established Classical and Romantic works are frequently juxtaposed with premieres of contemporary music (including Detlef Glanert, Victor Bruns, Anatol Vieru and Carlo Domeniconi). The interlinking of other arts is another special aspect that characterises the Kammersymphonie Berlin. As well as the musical interpretation of theatre productions (by Peter Zadek, among others), the orchestra accompanies dance productions (with Gregor Seyffert) and literature in concert (with Corinna Harfouch, Dieter Mann and Eberhard Esche). The Kammersymphonie makes regular guest appearances at the Konzerthaus Berlin and the Philharmonie Berlin, as well as across Germany. Under its artistic director, Jürgen Bruns, it has taken up invitations to perform at the music festival in Ravello (Italy, 2000), the Dresden Music Festival, the Kurt Weill Fest in Dessau (2001) and the Festival International de Musique de Sion-Valais (Switzerland). The Polen im Exil [Poles in Exile] music festival, which took place in October 2004 in Berlin and featured exiled Polish composers ranging from Chopin to Tansman, was jointly organised with the Kammersymphonie. The distinctive programming of its orchestral concerts regularly attracts the interest of broadcasters, who produce recordings and live broadcasts. As a result, the opening concert of the Usedom Music Festival 2007 was transmitted live by Deutschlandradio Kultur and a recording of the “20 Years of Kammersymphonie Berlin” anniversary concert was broadcast on 23.02.2011. The first recording of Franz Schreker’s The Birthday of the Infanta and Ernst Toch’s Tanz Suite was performed by the Kammersymphonie Berlin in 1998 in its acclaimed CD debut. Another CD was released in 2002 with music from the first half of the 20th century, including first recordings of works by Berthold Goldschmidt and Roberto Gerhard, as well Kurt Weill’s Symphony No. 2. In 2004 Sony Norway engaged the Kammersymphonie Berlin for a collaboration with baritone, Rein Alexander. The CD went platinum in Norway. In autumn 2006 the Kammersymphonie released works by Gerhard Frommel for Deutsche Grammophon. At the start of 2007 a CD of two fairy tale settings by Andreas Pflüger, with narration by Corinna Harfouch, was released for Capriccio. This was followed in 2008 by a CD for Deutsche Grammophon of Kurt Hessenberg’s suite Der Sturm and the saxophone concerto by Lars-Erik Larsson with soloist Frank Lunte. In 2001 the Kammersymphonie Berlin received an award from the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung and in 2002, together with its conductor, Jürgens Bruns, it received the Förderpreis Musik, awarded by the Musikakademie Rheinsberg and the State of Brandenburg.
Conductor, Jürgen BRUNS, is co-founder of the Kammersymphonie Berlin and has been its artistic director since it was founded. He is also principal conductor of both KOS Ljubljana and ECCO (European Contemporary Composers Orchestra). As a child he learnt several instruments and first appeared as a soloist with orchestras at the age of nine. Later he studied violin at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin, joining the Konzerthausorchester Berlin in 1988 while he was still a student. At the same time, Bruns began his conducting studies with Professor Rolf Reuter in Berlin, complemented by studies with Gilbert Varga in Florence and Charles Bruck in Paris, as well as at the Pierre-Monteux School in Maine (USA) from 1991 to 1992. In 1991, Bruns relinquished his position with the Konzerthausorchester to focus solely on conducting. Since then he has developed an active conducting career with orchestras, theatres and choirs in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Poland, France, Austria, Norway and Germany. In recent years he has conducted more than 80 world premieres. He is acclaimed for his theme-based concert programmes and for collaborations with other arts (theatre, video, dance, literature). The conductor has been awarded the Siemens Förderpreis multiple times and has received the Förderpreis Musik, awarded by the Musikakademie Rheinsberg and the State of Brandenburg. He has been recognised by the IMFC for his interpretations of works by Janáček. Recording activity is a very important aspect of his work. Bruns has recorded over one hundred works for film, radio and CD (including for Deutsche Grammophon, EDA, Signum, Quadriga, Capriccio, Hännsler Classics and Sony), many of which are world premieres of rediscovered and/or suppressed music. From 2006 to 2009 he was artistic director of Deutsche Grammophon’s Club 100 series.
Organist Günther Kaunzinger is Artist in Residence 2014 at the Institute for Church Music and Organ where he will teach a guest class. Press reviews commending the organist as a “technical phenomenon” or even as the “Liszt of the organ” are no rarity. The true essence that lies behind such often zealous formulations can be found in Kaunzinger’s concept of musically validated, technically emancipated and mentally alert organ playing, while his extraordinary powers of recall enable him to interpret repertoire from memory. Kaunzinger learnt his art during a seven-year period of study with French organ masters, Marie-Claire Alain, Maurice Duruflé and Jean Guillou (which naturally included the art of improvisation). Before this he completed comprehensive music studies in Germany (including piano, composition and conducting). Prizes at numerous international organ competitions laid the foundation for Kaunzinger’s global concert schedule and regular recording work (including the entire works of Franck, Widor and Vierne), which received the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis [German Record Critics’ Award] in 1980, 1982 and 1988. In 1983 he founded the Konzerte auf Capriccio [Concerts at Capriccio] at his house, Capriccio, in Helmstadt near Würzburg. Numerous instruments in Germany and abroad are testament to his strong advocacy for contemporary, customised organ building, including the large organ of the Stiftsbasilika Waldsassen – with 103 registers and two six-manual consoles – where he was named Titular Organist in 1989. As editor of the first Urtext edition of the complete organ works of César Franck (Schott/Wiener Urtext Edition) and the only corrected edition of Julius Reubkes Orgelsonate über den 94. Psalm (also Schott/Mainz), Kaunzinger has gained particular merit and renown as a musicologist. In 1988 he was awarded the City of Sulzbach-Rosenberg Culture Award due to his international prominence as an organist. In 1994 he achieved global recognition when he was chosen as Interpreten des Jahres [Performer of the Year]. The German President conferred on Kaunzinger the Verdienstorden am Bande der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany], a national acknowledgment of this internationally renowned organist and teacher whose work is acclaimed worldwide.
Organist and composer Naji Hakim was Artist in Residence at the Institute for Church Music and Organ in the 2013 summer semester. Naji Subhy Paul Irénée Hakim was born on 31 October 1955 in Beirut (Lebanon). He completed extensive studies with J. Langlais, and at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique he took part in classes with R. Boutry, J.C. Henry, M. Bitsch, R. Falcinelli, J. Castérède and Serge Nigg, winning seven first prizes. While completing the Trinity College of Music teaching diploma in organ he achieved nine first places at international organ and composition competitions. In 1991 he was awarded the André Caplet prize by the Académie des Beaux-Arts. After holding the position of Titular Organist at the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre from 1985 to 1993, he succeeded Olivier Messiaen at the Église de la Trinité. He is also Professor of Musical Analysis at the Conservatoire National de Région in Boulogne-Billancourt and a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He graduated in engineering from the École Nationale Supérieure de Télécommunications in Paris. He is a member of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae in Rome and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon. In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI conferred on him the decoration Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for his outstanding dedication and his service to the Roman Catholic Church. His catalogue includes a large number of instrumental works (organ, flute, oboe, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, harp, guitar, violin, piano), symphonic music (Les Noces de l‘Agneau, Hymne de l‘Univers, Ouverture Libanaise, Påskeblomst, Augsburger Symphonie, The Embrace of Fire, Violin Concerto) and vocal music (Saul de Tarse oratorio, Phèdre cantata, two Magnificats and four masses). Hakim composed a mass for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the institute, which was premièred on 5 May in Graz Cathedral and broadcast on ORF television and radio. He also held a master class over several days and performed concerts as part of the Orgelfrühling Festival in the Herz-Jesu-Kirche.