Ricordi Berlin signs Bernhard Lang

Ricordi Berlin signs Bernhard Lang

Ricordi Bühnen- und Musikverlag, Berlin, has acquired the catalog of Bernhard Lang and will have the exclusive right to publish all future works of the Austrian composer. His existing repertoire consists of more than 100 compositions, including 11 stage works. One of Lang’s upcoming highlights is “ParZeFool- Der Tumbe Thor”, a reinterpretation of Richard Wagner’s “Parsifal”. This stage work will be premiered at Wiener Festwochen in Vienna in 2017 under the direction of German artist Jonathan Meese.

Bernhard Lang is, after Georg Friedrich Haas, the second internationally-renowned composer to join Ricordi Berlin in 2016.


Why did you decide to join Ricordi Berlin?

Ricordi is a very attractive publisher because of its open-mindedness. The publishing house was recommended to me by friends like Olga Neuwirth and Enno Poppe. Their opinion was also important to me when I made my decision. Enno Poppe and I had a long conversation at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin and after that Ricordi was my first choice. I believe that Ricordi has a pole position in representing contemporary composers. And as I’m fortunate to have my music performed more and more on an international level, I also need international representation. I am leaving my previous publisher on the best possible terms by the way.

Jazz, improvisation and Turntablism are very important to you. What role does improvisation play in your music?
Improvisation plays an important role in my compositions. This tension between notation, improvisation and personal discourse with the performer is an integral part of my music, especially in my most recent works. However, I have learned not to overvalue improvisation. After all, improvisation is a language, and as in any other language there are empty phrases, repeating patterns and signs of wear.

Can this also be seen as an expression of opposition to contemporary music?
I never opposed contemporary music. I received a classical music education - in the afternoon I would play Chopin at the conservatory, and in the evening I would rehearse with my rock band. It has nothing to do with me that this openness has been interpreted as opposition.

I rather opposed myself when I allowed myself to do only certain things. At one point in my career I wanted to be a composer of new music, with a capital “N” and a capital “M”. Although eventually I realized that this approach does not fit my personality. In the mid-1990s I started to improvise on stage again, and I became part of the improvisation scene in Vienna, which was very strong at that time. Later these experiences led to the composition of DW2. The performance of this work included a Kurdish singer and a Rapper. I allowed myself to be free again and I opened up.

This new freedom gave me an incredible engergy boost. Since then I’ve written DW 3 - 27, the Monadologien 1 - 30 and several large works for music theatre. In my new piece for the 2017 Donauschingen festival you can find both extremes: there is an an orchestra, a Jazz bass, a synthesizer and a partially improvising soloist.

What role does the audience play for you?
During composition I think about the live situation, not about the audience. I imagine the performance in my mind, and during this I am the only person in the audience. However I do think about the performer when I write music - so much so that the performer seems to be standing right beside me during the composition process.

I don’t meet the real audience until the world premiere. This is often a surprising experience for me and I enjoy this moment, this voltage of energy and tension. For instance, DW 5 was a big hit for a while and it was performed quite often. During the performance I received both enthusiasm and angry boos from the audience.

When I was composer-in-residence with Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, I was booed by a full house even though the orchestra played really well! So I went on stage and addressed the audience: “Dear ladies and gentleman, I always prefer a critical and attentive audience to an indifferent audience, but I would like to ask you to distinguish between the outstanding performance and the quality of my composition.” The audience seemed to like this, and the orchestra was also glad that I acknowledged our great collaboration. The concerts that followed in Dresden were well received by the audience…

To be continued.

This is the first part of an interview that Maximilian v. Aulock and Daniela Brendel conducted with Bernhard Lang. Additional segments will follow on this website in the future.