Musique Concrète Instrumentale

A conversation and concert with Helmut Lachenmann about the composition, musical languages, and unconventional playing techniques


Fields of Knowledge
  • Performance

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Sound Field NFP


Gene Coleman


University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Argosy Fund for Contemporary Music, with media support from Bowerbird

Organized by Gene Coleman

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


100% Formal - 0% Informal

  • New music

Slought and Sound Field NFP are pleased to announce an evening of new and experimental music, featuring a conversation with esteemed German composer Helmut Lachenmann and a performance of his music by the acclaimed JACK Quartet on Monday, April 7, 2008 from 5:30-9:30pm at Slought Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania.

At 5:30pm at Slought, Lachenmann will engage in public conversation with Philadelphia composer and series curator Gene Coleman, addressing Lachenmann's controversial ideas about music, noise and beauty, accompanied by recorded excerpts from his 1st and 3rd string quartets and his opera "Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern" as examples. This event is part of the "EurEthos" series at Soundfield, and contributes to an ongoing cultural exchange between European and American composers, through concerts and community dialogue.

Following the discussion at Slought, the JACK Quartet, comprised of violinists Ari Streisfeld and Christopher Otto, violist John Pickford Richards and cellist Kevin McFarland, will perform at 8 pm at the Amado Recital Hall in Irvine Auditorium at 3401 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The evening's program includes Lachenmann's "Gran Torso" (1971) and his String Quartet no. 3 "Grido" (2001). No reservation is required although advance ticket purchase is encouraged.

Lachenmann has referred to his compositions as "musique concrète instrumentale." Here, Lachenmann implies a musical language that embraces the entire sound-world made accessible through unconventional playing techniques. According to the composer, this is music "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. Consequently those qualities, such as timbre, volume, etc., do not produce sounds for their own sake, but describe or denote the concrete situation: listening, you hear the conditions under which a sound- or noise-action is carried out, you hear what materials and energies are involved and what resistance is encountered." Lachenmann has consistently explored and elaborated new and innovative musical languages. Using instruments and voices unconventionally, Lachenmann has questioned past assumptions of the function and expectation of music.

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Helmut Lachenmann was born in Stuttgart, Germany. He studied piano with Jürgen Uhde and composition and theory with Johann Nepomuk David at the Stuttgarter Musikhochschule and was the first private student of the composer Luigi Nono in Venice.He later worked at the Institute of Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music (IPEM) of the University of Ghent. Since 1965, he has focused almost exclusively on purely instrumental music. His work includes primarily orchestral, chamber, and piano works. He has also composed stage, ensemble, choral, and vocal pieces. His music has been featured at festivals throughout the world. Further, he has regularly lectured at Darmstadt since 1978, has been a professor of composition at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule, and in 2008, he was appointed Fromm Visiting Professor at the Music department at Harvard University. He is also noted for his many articles, essays, and lectures, which he has performed around the world. Lachenmann has been awarded with many distinguishing prizes such as the Bach-prize of Hamburg (Bach-Preis der Freine und Hansestadt Hamburg) in 1972 and the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 1997. Most recently, he received the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Chamber-Scale Composition.

JACK Quartet includes violinists Ari Streisfeld and Christopher Otto, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Kevin McFarlan. The quartet has performed in Europe and North America, including appearances at Carnegie Hall, La Biennale di Venezia, the Lucerne Festival, and the Festival Internacional de Música Contemporánea de Michoacán. The members met while attending the Eastman School of Music, where in addition to learning standing and contemporary repertoire they pursued period, non-western, and popular performance styles. Intent on commissioning and performing new works, the string quartet has worked closely with composers Helmut Lachenmann, Wolgang Rihm, Matthias Pintscher, Aaron Cassidy, Aaron Traverys, Robert Rusconi, and many more. For more information on JACK: http://www.jackquartet.com/

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