• Into the Lion’s Den: Helmut Lachenmann at 75

    Christopher Swithinbank (see profile)
    Music and Sound
    Music, Composition (Music), Musical criticism
    Item Type:
    audience reception, Helmut Lachenmann, Music composition, Music criticism
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    In April 2010, the Guildhall School of Music recognized German composer Helmut Lachenmann's expertise in extended instrumental techniques, inviting him to give the keynote speech at a research day dedicated to contemporary performance practice; in May, he had a Fellowship of the Royal College of Music conferred upon him for his achievements as a composer; in June, the London Symphony Orchestra performed Lachenmann's Double (Grido II) for string orchestra, in doing so becoming the first non-BBC British orchestra to have performed his music; and in October, the Southbank Centre presented two days of Lachenmann's music including performances by the Arditti String Quartet and a much expanded London Sinfonietta, the latter broadcast on Radio 3. Outside London, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group gave a performance of his most recent work, Got Lost for soprano and piano, and the University of Manchester presented a mini-festival dedicated to his music. This roll call of events might be seen then as the celebration to be expected as a noted composer passes a milestone, but Lachenmann is a composer who – despite his age – could until recently have escaped such attention in Britain. In 1995, Elke Hockings wrote in these pages that, while enjoying ‘an exalted reputation among a small circle of English contemporary music enthusiasts, […] to the wider English music public he [Lachenmann] is little known’ and critical reception has been mixed, often extremely negative. Introducing Lachenmann to an audience at the Southbank Centre in October, Ivan Hewett described him as ‘a composer we don't know well in this country, an omission we are gradually repairing’.
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    Last Updated:
    7 years ago
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