Campus & Community

Composer Lachenmann named Fromm Foundation Visiting Professor

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The Harvard University Department of Music has announced the appointment of Helmut Lachenmann as the Fromm Foundation Visiting Professor for spring 2008. Lachenmann is the esteemed German composer of mostly orchestral, chamber, and piano works that have been performed throughout the world.

Lachenmann refers to his works as musique concrète instrumentale. This is music, he says, “in which the sound events are chosen and organized so that the manner in which they are generated is at least as important as the resultant acoustic qualities themselves.”

Boston area audiences will be able to hear Lachenmann’s music at two Harvard concerts this spring: His “Pression” will be performed at the Fromm Players of Harvard’s 60 Years of Electronic Music (March 7-8 in Paine Hall at 8 p.m.); his Allegro Sostenuto and String Quartet No. 3 “Grido” will be performed April 9 at, also in Paine Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.

Born in Stuttgart in 1935, Lachenmann was the first private student of the avant-garde composer Luigi Nono. He worked briefly at the electronic music studio at the University of Ghent, but then focused on purely instrumental music. He received an honorary doctorate from the Musikhochschule Hannover in 2001.

Lachenmann’s teaching background includes regular lectures at Darmstadt since 1978 and a professorship of composition at the Stuttgarter Musikhochschule from 1981 to 1999. Lachenmann is also noted for his numerous articles, essays, and lectures, many of which appear in “Musik als existentielle Erfahrung” (Music as Existential Experience).

Lachenmann’s honors include the Kulturpreis für Musik from the city of Munich, the Kompositionpreis from the city of Stuttgart, the Bach-Preis Hamburg, and the Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis. Most recently, he received the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Chamber-Scale Composition (2004, for String Quartet No. 3 “Grido”). He is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Mannheim, and Munich, and the Academie voor Wetenschapen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België. His music has been featured at festivals throughout the world, including on numerous occasions at Darmstadt, the Venice Biennale, the Wien Modern, and the Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik, as well as in five portrait concerts and a symposium at the Salzburg Festival. Breitkopf & Härtel publishes his music.

Paul Fromm established the Fromm Foundation Visiting Professorship in 1983 in order to appoint to the faculty of the Harvard Music Department a composer of international reputation for one semester. Past visiting professors include Peter Maxwell Davies (1985), Milton Babbit (1988), Gunther Schuller (1991), Betsy Jolas (1994), Andrew Imbrie (1997), Judith Weir (2004), Magnus Lindberg (2006), and Gunther Schuller (2007).

The professorship fits into the Fromm Foundation’s mission as defined by the late Paul Fromm in 1972: “The central purpose of the Fromm Music Foundation has been to restore to the composer his rightful position at the center of musical life. Rather than subsidizing institutions or supporting other, even more anonymous aspects of culture, the Fromm Foundation has chosen to focus its programs on individual artists, individual works, and individual musical situations.”