Festival celebrates German composer with a residency, retrospective, and international line-up

March 9, 2015

Chicago celebrates German composer Mathias Spahlinger’s 70th year with a 10-day residency and retrospective of his music and thought. The first of its kind in the States, this festival presents six concerts and a symposium, all free and open to the public, and brings together renowned musicians and scholars from Chicago, New York, Berlin, Zürich, and Basel. Generously supported by the Goethe Institute, the University of Chicago, DePaul University, the Renaissance Society, the Graham Foundation, the Arts Council of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this festival spans Spahlinger’s career from the late 1960s through the present day. 

Highlights from the concerts include the world-premiere of a substantial new work for drum-kit, ausnahmslos ausnahmen (2014), and the North American premieres of the trio rundweg, the large ensemble works verlorener weg I and II (2000), and doppelt bejaht [“doubly affirmed”] (2009), a series of etudes for improvising, spatiallydistributed orchestra without conductor. Staple members and venues of Chicago’s music and art scene take pride of place, and events range all over the city. Spahlinger’s extended stay will afford him the opportunity to work closely with performers, composers, and scholars at numerous institutions, coaching rehearsals, leading seminars, and talking about his work. 

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Complete List of Events

there is no repetition: Mathias Spahlinger at 70
All Events Free and Open to the Public

Friday, March 6, 8 pm

Michael Lewanski leads DePaul’s Ensemble 20+ in Spahlinger’s fierce, incisive furioso (1991), as well as Mouthpiece: Segment of the 4th Letter by former Spahlinger student Erin Gee, and the world-premiere of Owen Davis’s MEAT SPEAK.

DePaul University Concert Hall: 8 pm (800 West Belden Avenue, Chicago, IL)

Ensemble 20+
Owen Davis, MEAT SPEAK (2015)*
Erin Gee, Mouthpiece: Segment of the 4th Letter (2007)
Mathias Spahlinger, furioso (1991) 
*World Premiere

Sunday, March 8, 8:30 pm

Mocrep presents a concert of precisely unhinged provocations, including Spahlinger’s gravely antic éphémère (1977), and North American premieres by Martin Schüttler and Jennifer Walshe. Daniel Wyche presents a site-specific performance for electric guitar, percussion and electronics, assisted by Ryan Packard.

Constellation: 8:30 pm (3111 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL)

Daniel Wyche
Martin Schüttler, Dieter Sanchez (2012)*
Mathias Spahlinger, éphémère (1977)
Martin Schüttler, Gier (2008)*
Jennifer Walshe, Hygiene (2010)*
Daniel Wyche, Untitled: William’s Song (2015)**
*American Premiere
**World Premiere

Thursday, March 12, 8 pm

The DePaul Symphony Orchestra and DePaul Chamber Orchestra combine to perform the American premiere of Spahlinger’s doppelt bejaht (2009), a series of etudes for improvising, spatially distributed orchestra without conductor; on the first half, Michael Lewanski leads the orchestras in the American premiere of Spahlinger’s morendo (1975) and Jean Sibelius’s last major work Tapiola (1926).

DePaul University Concert Hall: 8 pm (800 West Belden Avenue, Chicago, IL) 

The DePaul Symphony Orchestra and the DePaul Chamber Orchestra
Michael Lewanski, Conductor
Mathias Spahlinger, morendo (1975)*
Jean Sibelius, Tapiola, Op. 112 (1926)
Mathias Spahlinger, doppelt bejaht (2009)*
*American Premiere

Friday, March 13, 8 pm

The Illinois Modern Ensemble and conductor Stephen Taylor provide Spahlinger’s furioso (1991) with a new perspective, and SUONO MOBILE present his early fünf stücke für zwei klavier (1969) and the riven, explosive octet
aussageverweigerung/gegendarstellung (1981).

The Graham Foundation: 8 pm (Madlener House, 4 West Burton Place)

Illinois Modern Ensemble
Mathias Spahlinger, aussageverweigerung/gegendarstellung (1981), two contra-contexts for double-quartet
Mathias Spahlinger, fünf stücke für zwei klaviere (1969)
Philipp Blume, in nuce (2003, revised 2009)
Mathias Spahlinger, furioso (1990-91)

Saturday, March 14, 9 am–5.30 pm

A symposium on Spahlinger’s work and thought, with a keynote address by Anne C. Shreffler (Harvard University), talks by Seth Brodsky (University of Chicago), Brian Kane (Yale University), and Simon Obert (Paul Sacher Foundation), and a performance panel led by composer Philipp Blume and Spahlinger himself, featuring the Spektral Quartet in a performance and analysis of apo do (“from here”) (1982).

Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago: 9 am–5:30 pm (915 East 60th Street)
Performance Penthouse (9th Floor)

Philipp Blume (composer, co-founder, SUONO MOBILE USA)
Seth Brodsky (Music, University of Chicago)
Brian Kane (Music, Yale University)
Simon Obert (Musicologist/Curator, Paul Sacher Stiftung)
Anne Shreffler (Music, Harvard University), keynote speaker
Spektral Quartet

Saturday, March 14, 8 pm

Michael Lewanski conducts Ensemble Dal Niente in the North American premiere of Spahlinger’s verlorener weg I & II (2000), along with the duo adieu m’amour and trio música impura (1983) and a set of 15th-century songs by Guillaume Dufay.

Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago: 8 pm (915 East 60th Street)
Performance Hall (9th Floor)

Ensemble Dal Niente
Mathias Spahlinger, verlorener weg, version 1 (2000)*
Mathias Spahlinger, musica impura (1983)
Guillaume Dufay, chansons
Mathias Spahlinger, “adieu m’amour”, hommage à guillaume dufay (1983)
Mathias Spahlinger, verlorener weg, version 2 (2000)*
*American Premiere

Sunday, March 15, 3 pm

The Renaissance Society presents the world-premiere of Spahlinger’s bracing, actually unpredictable solo drum-kit piece ausnahmslos ausnahmen (2013) by Christoph Brunner; the Berlin trio XelmYa opens the concert with the North American premiere of rundweg (2010); and Eric Wubbels and Josh Modney of the Wet Ink Ensemble perform the olympian hour-long duo extension (1980).

Bond Chapel, University of Chicago: 3pm (1025 East 58th Street)
Co-presented by The Renaissance Society
Christoph Brunner
Eric Wubbels and Josh Modney of the Wet Ink Ensemble

Mathias Spahlinger, rundweg (2010)*
Mathias Spahlinger, ausnahmslos ausnahmen (2014)**
Mathias Spahlinger, extension (1979-80)
*American Premiere
**World Premiere

About Spahlinger

Mathias Spahlinger was born in Frankfurt in 1944. His father was a cellist. From 1951, he received lessons from his father in fiddle, viola, recorder and, later, violoncello. He began piano lessons in 1952. From 1959 Spahlinger developed an intense interest in jazz, took saxophone classes and wanted to be a jazz musician. In 1962 he left school and began an apprenticeship as a typesetter. During the apprenticeship he took private classes in composition with Konrad Lechner. After completing his apprenticeship he continued his studies with Lechner at the Städtischen Akademie für Tonkunst (State Academy of Music) in Darmstadt (piano classes with Werner Hoppstock). In 1968 he took up a teaching position at the Stuttgart Musikschule (Music School), teaching piano, theory, musical education for children, and experimental music. From 1973-1977 he studied composition with Erhard Karkoschka at Stuttgart’s Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (State Academy of Music and Performing Arts.) In 1978 he became guest lecturer in music theory at the Hochschule der Künste (Arts University) in Berlin, and in 1984 professor for composition and music theory at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik (State Academy of Music) in Karlsruhe. From 1990 to 2009 he held the position of professor of composition and head of the institute for new music at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik (State Academy of Music) in Freiburg. He currently lives in Potsdam near Berlin.