The Music of Jörg Widmann
Jörg Widmann was born in Munich, Germany in 1973. He began clarinet lessons at age 7, completing his education at the Munich Music Academy and with Charles Neidich at the Juilliard School in New York. His studies in composition began when he was 11 years old; they were continued with Hans Werner Henze and concluded with Wolfgang Rihm. Since the fall of 2001, Widmann has been teaching as professor of clarinet at the Musikhochschule Freiburg; eight years later the same institution additionally named him professor of composition. His works, whose scoring spans from solos via chamber ensembles to orchestral compositions and operas, have been premiered by world-renowned musicians, among them Christian Tetzlaff, Heinz Holliger, the Arditti and the Minguet Quartets, Kent Nagano, Paavo Järvi, and Pierre Boulez. His prizes and awards - which number 40 to date - include the Paul Hindemith Prize (2002), the Arnold Schönberg Prize (2004), the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize (2006), the Elise Stoeger Prize of the Lincoln Center New York in recognition of significant contributions to chamber music composition (2008), and the Premio Arthur Rubinstein of the Teatro La Fenice, Venice (2013).
This first in-depth study of Widmann's music presents analyses and interpretations of eighteen works. These fall into five categories, which are representative of this composer’s output to date: instrumental responses to poetic sources (the piano sonata Fleurs du mal after Baudelaire, three works for different string ensembles on figures in Greek myths, and the symphonic composition Teufel Amor based on a fragment by Schiller), three explorations of “instrumental singing” (Lied, Chor, and Messe for orchestra), the cycle of five string quartets, three of his chamber compositions with clarinet (Sieben Abgesänge auf eine tote Linde, Octet and Quintet), as well as his two major works for the operatic stage (Das Gesicht im Spiegel and Babylon).