Presented in collaboration with MUTEK and the PHI Center. Supported by the European Union within the programme Culture.
The fascination with aural perception and how to expand the experience of music reached a new level of intensity in the 20th century when diverse and unconnected musicians from all around the world began exploring new approaches to sound. From this fascination emerged movements such as serialism, championed by luminaries such as Stockhausen, Reich, and Cage, but also musicians working in counter-current to dominant trends, such as Ernstalbrecth Stiebler. Little known then as now, Stiebler merits a closer appraisal for his contribution to a new understanding of time and space within sound; his work can also be credited as laying the foundation for modern-day minimalistic music.
As an homage to this discreet yet pioneering composer, a selection of Stiebler’s works will be performed by various musicians. The musical approach is best described by Stiebler himself:
“The pause, silence, or quiet chime opens our ears for the sound of the space itself, its echoes, its sounds, the very circulation of its air. Slowness allows us to hear details more clearly, for example, the play of overtones in a ‘perfect fourth’ interval played in various keys on the piano. Repetition reveals to us any changes in how we hear; a sound is never the same twice over, we hear it differently, we have changed, we hear ourselves hearing.
When music gives us enough time – for we need time in order to listen ‘in time’ – then, and only then can the greatness, depth, and diverse colours of a sonic space be truly apprehended; a sonic space that extends as far as the room that each person, as Franz Kafka wrote, carries within: the inner space that is irrevocably bound up with the space without, and that is opened by music.
If the breadth and depth of a sonic space are ever to be fathomed, we must learn to give space to bigger temporal intervals, to long notes, as music, like our consciousness, broadens and expands. That is its progression, beyond emotionality and finesse. For this, I try to compose sounds.” – Ernstalbrecht Stiebler
Berlin record label m=minimal credits Stiebler (Berlin, 1934) with being the first German composer to explore minimal techniques in his works in reaction to the serialism dominant at the time. Though his compositions are relatively unknown, Stiebler has garnered enormous respect for his long radio production career.
Stiebler is a highly respected avant-garde composer; he writes for piano and organ, and has created chamber music and choir pieces. He served as director of new music at Hessischer Rundfunk for over 25 years where he supervised recordings of Morton Feldman, John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Giacinto Scelsi, Earle Brown, and Christian Wolff, among others.
Stiebler studied composition and piano at the Musikhochschule Hamburg and in Darmstadt between 1958 and 1961, including a period studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1959.
His first composition “Extension I” was performed in 1963 and was seen as being in opposition to the serialist styles that were dominant at that time. His “Sequenz II” for cello and tape (1984) has been released by m=minimal in 2012 as a new recording with cellist Agnieszka Dziubak. The release also comprises the pieces “Mitteltöne”, and “Trio 89”. In the near future, m=minimal will release Stiebler’s “ton um ton” performed by ensemble modern.
Berlin-based cellist Dziubak performs classical, contemporary, experimental, and improvised music. She also performs as one half of the duo DuoKaya, has played with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Callithumpian Consort, the Boston Conservatory Chamber Players, and the Ludovico Ensemble, and has appeared with the New England String Ensemble.
Since 1999, Montreal’s Quatuor Bozzini has been an original voice in new, contemporary, experimental and classical music. They have nurtured a vastly diverse repertoire that has grown to over a hundred and thirty commissioned pieces, as well as close to two hundred other premiered works.
The Bozzini Quartet was nominated as a finalist of the 2012 Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montreal. They have also won three Opus prizes from the Conseil québécois de la musique, were recipients of the Étoile-Galaxie Prize from Radio-Canada (2001), and Germany’s Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung (2007). The quartet presents its own annual season of concerts in Montréal, the Série qb, as well as touring Europe, the US, South America and Canada, at the invitation of festivals such as MärzMusik (Berlin, Germany), Ultima (Oslo, Norway), Huddersfield (UK), Klangspuren (Austria), NovemberMusic S’Hertogenbosch (Netherlands) and Présences (France).
In 2004 the quartet created its own label, Collection QB, in collaboration with Dame/Actuelle CD. This label gives the quartet and other artists the freedom to record composers such as Steve Reich, Jo Kondo, Howard Skempton, and James Tenney, as well as Canadian composers including Jean Lesage, Claude Vivier, Michael Oesterle and Michel Gonneville. The Bozzini Quartet has recorded with Centrediscs, Wandelweiser, Wergo-Deutscher Musikrat, and ATMA Classique, and can be heard regularly on both European and Canadian radio.