Kyburz, Hanspeter (*1960)
Thanks to his enjoyment of being different, of thinking in processes, but also thanks to the compositional fusion of structural thought (German, to a certain extent) and sensual sonorities (French), Hanspeter Kyburz's aesthetics and music are very up-to-date.
(Patrick Müller, Dissonance)
Photo © by Betty Freeman, Los Angeles
|1960||Born in Lagos, Nigeria |
Studies composition in Graz with A. Dobrowolsky and Gösta Neuwirth
|1982-1990||Studies in Berlin: composition with Frank Michael Beyer and Gösta Neuwirth, musicology with Carl Dahlhaus, art history and philosophy|
|1990-1993||Pursues his studies with Hans Zender in Frankfurt am Main|
|1990||Boris Blacher Composition Award |
Fellowship from the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris
|1994||Schneider Schott Award|
|1996||Advancement Award of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin|
|since 1997||Professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin|
|1998||Lecturer at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt|
|2000||Advancement Award of the Ernst-von-Siemens-Foundation|
|2000-2002||Professor of composition at the Musikhochschule in Basel|
|2005||Project for Roche Commissions in cooperation with Lucerne Festival, Cleveland Orchestra and Carnegie Hall New York for 2006|
As in previous centuries, there are still today composers who manifest a schizophrenic relationship toward their own early works. Hanspeter Kyburz is a good example of this. The earliest works which he fully accepts are the ensemble pieces "Cells" (1993/94) and "Parts" (1994/95) - which makes it tempting to see these works as the actual "beginning" of his compositional career.
One element which distinguishes these works from his earlier compositions and which is only seemingly superficial at first glance is the increased significance of systematic-theoretical considerations and the incorporation of computer-supported experiments with formal processes. The structural discoveries which Kyburz made in this manner opened up a considerable potential of new, non-linear formative possibilities. Since this time, they have constituted the basis for the quasi-architectonic lay-out of his works. It would be wrong, however, to see in these new possibilities only some sleek new trump cards which the composer, abandoning himself to the automatism of structural formations, would deal with a nimble hand: it is an intrinsic part of his work with algorithms that everything bound to a system must become unstable and must open itself to ever new formative spaces at the limits of what has previously been established. Kyburz may look back very self-critically today on everything that he has already written. However, in the creation of new pieces, he is forever researching his material thoroughly. His composing is characterized by circum-spection, self-observation enhanced by lucid thinking and a preoccupation with analytic philosophy, and by a long, meticulous search for solutions.
The scruples felt by the composer at the start of every formative process are partly those of a composer who is thoroughly knowledgeable in music history, including that of the past decades. However, in his works these scruples are put to productive use in an original manner: all matters pertaining to the depiction of sounds and (musical) meaning, all tentatively formulated answers are so designed that every certainty uncovers a new dilemma, and everything that seems to be binding presents new questions. This, along with an energy that ultimately overcomes all doubts, gives the music of Hanspeter Kyburz something lively and fresh, a very personal tension and color.
Several of the titles of Kyburz's works suggest that the genesis of musical processes is in itself a recurring theme in his music. This is the case in "Cells" for the first time: this music of immense suggestive power is laid out as a cleverly articulated network of juxtaposed structural moments. At the center are extremely diverse variants of concentration and development as well as of dissolution and dispersal. Kyburz stages a play with many per-spectives and with multi-faceted attempts to group and unify, to which internal dialogue constructions must often be seen as contributing factors as well.
When listening to the music of Hanspeter Kyburz, one often has the impression that the composer seems to have wrested a profiled structure from the realm of inchoate and freely proliferating ideas. But this is always accompanied by a uniquely exploratory emphasis. This also helps endow his works with a highly sensual and sometimes markedly theatrical power, far beyond considerations of an abstract nature. Among the musical scenarios expounded in his works is the release of constellations of sonorities; the energies thus released are allowed, partially at least, to dissipate themselves in a way that sometimes even makes the composer himself an amazed onlooker. Remarkable here are the moments of surprise which his works afford us. Particularly in the ensemble works "Parts" and "Diptychon" (1997/98), one often encounters shocking irruptions which destroy the flow of sound or suddenly cause a previously latent potential to explode.
One major innovation in Kyburz's latest works consists in the increasingly varied and intricate formation of the overall dramaturgy. This too is a result of multi-faceted structural explorations and stimuli, for example, when the composer works with a computer-developed prototype of the ultimately resulting sounds. The processes which Kyburz thus stages are so intricately interconnected and polyphonically intercut with others, that the listener often has the strange feeling - a realization or suspicion - that a form is being generated. The mind, however, is unable to grasp how this form is truly being created. The evocative quality of the works of Hanspeter Kyburz results not least from the fact that the essence of the process in itself is also communicated subconsciously.
On the other hand, Kyburz's works also contain aural situations which seem immediately evident and compelling; they are "offered" to the listener and are easy to grasp. These are generally compilations of traditional material, for example echoes of the concerto idea, of the oratorio - as in "The Voynich Cipher Manuscript" (1995) - or of the classical chamber-musical discourse, as in "Danse aveugle" (1997). The abstract configurations then end up in a region that is familiar through historical experience, only to withdraw very soon from this familiarity and its strong pull in order to go their own new ways. It is here that we can ob-serve something extraordinarily important for Kyburz's compositional process: the evolution of an interplay, partially intentionally forced, of proximity and distance, of coming closer and moving away. This interplay gives rise to certain perplexities, caused, in works for larger ensembles in particular, by phasing out the power of the collective; and in works without a veritable solo part, by insistently focusing on sounds, whereby specific instruments take center stage episodically either as soloists or in uncommon mixtures of instrumental colors.
Through all these means, the composer succeeds in opening up new spaces in which he can unfold his phenomenal aural imagination. Some of his works also make use of spaces in a literal sense. This is the case in "Cells", for example, but above all in "Diptychon" and "Malstrom" (1998): the musicians interact from a variety of positions and are sometimes placed quite far from one another. This differentiation is a further formative factor in the finely tuned inter-play of unstable forces.
It is not rare that one finds in Hanspeter Kyburz's music points of reference with other artistic domains, in particular with filmic or literary creative processes. One example is found in the impulses from Hermann Broch's novel "Der Tod des Vergil", which were assimilated into the creative process of Parts. Correspondences between the book and the musical work can be seen both in the linguistic technique as well as in the gestural and dramatic scope, which ranges from thundering vehemence to an almost whispered fragility. Another example is found in the references to Edgar Allan Poe's story "Malstrom", which are evident in the orchestral work of the same name. Here, in particular, the orientation-free impotence and the "saving" constructive perspective are surprisingly closely related. It is precisely the fascinatingly contradictory situation of having to deal with the potential of surging vehemence and of unrestrained independence which is essential to the compositional process of Hanspeter Kyburz.
Jörn Peter Hiekel
(1998; Translation: Roger Clément)
Texts by Hanspeter Kyburz
Dialogisches Komponieren. Hanspeter Kyburz im Gespräch mit Anton Haefeli, in: Composers-in-Residence (Lucerne Festival, Sommer 2001), 161-169
"Mich hat immer interessiert, wie Bedeutung entsteht". Hanspeter Kyburz im Gespräch mit Sibylle Ehrismann, in: Schweizer Musikzeitung 4 (2001), Heft 7/8 (Juli/August), S. 11f
Neue Musik lehren – was bedeutet das? Katharina Rengger im Gespräch mit Pierre Boulez und Hanspeter Kyburz, in: Lucerne Festival. Academy magazine, Ausgabe Sommer 2004, S. 1f
Round Table Discussion with René Imhof, Sabine Marienberg and Klaus Müller, in: Roche Commissions: Hanspeter Kyburz, edited by the Carnegie Hall (New York), The Cleveland Orchestra, Lucerne Festival und Roche, Roche 2006, S. 151-187
Texts on Hanspeter Kyburz (Selection)
Griffiths, Paul: Modern Music and After, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press 2010, S. 391-393
Hagmann, Peter: Computer-Traumtänzer und Klangsensualist. Hanspeter Kyburz, "composer-in-residence", in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 8./9. September 2001
Hiekel, Jörn Peter: Anmerkungen zu Hanspeter Kyburz, in: CD-Beiheft "Musikszene Schweiz", Migros MGB CTS-M 52, Zürich 1997
Kübler, Susanne: Auf der Suche nach Grenzerfahrungen. Der Schweizer Hanspeter Kyburz, in: Tages-Anzeiger (Zürich), 15. August 2001
dies: Wettstreit mit dem System. Hanspeter Kyburz entwickelt aus mathematischen Modellen und computerberechneten Algorithmen eine Musik, die alles andere als formelhaft klingt, in: du. Die Zeitschrift der Kultur, Nr. 718 (Doppelheft), Juli 2001, S. 132-134
Lorenz, Kuno: Play – the Gateway to acquaintance and knowledge, in: Roche Commissions: Hanspeter Kyburz, edited by the Carnegie Hall (New York), The Cleveland Orchestra, Lucerne Festival and Roche, Roche 2006, S. 113-133
Madlener, Frank: Hanspeter Kyburz. Un portrait en marche, in: Programmbuch zum Festival ars musica, Brüssel 1998, S. 42-47 (französisch) bzw. S. 53-55 (flämisch)
ders.: The „lost“ time of research, in: Roche Commissions: Hanspeter Kyburz, edited by the Carnegie Hall (New York), The Cleveland Orchestra, Lucerne Festival and Roche, Roche 2006, S. 73-83
Mattenberger, Urs: Das Staunen in englischen Gärten. Der Schweizer Composer in residence Hanspeter Kyburz, in: Neue Luzerner Zeitung usw., 11. August 2001
Mosch, Ulrich: Hanspeter Kyburz – a Portrait, in: Roche Commissions: Hanspeter Kyburz, edited by the Carnegie Hall (New York), The Cleveland Orchestra, Lucerne Festival and Roche, Roche 2006, S. 11-25
Müller, Patrick: Hanspeter Kyburz - Zwischen assoziativer Ungeduld und beobachtender Distanz, in: Composers-in-Residence (Lucerne Festival, Sommer 2001), S. 145-158
ders: Im Sog der Wahrnehmung. Zum Komponieren von Hanspeter Kyburz, in: Dissonance, November 1999, S. 24-33
ders.: Les Chemins de traverse de Hanspeter Kyburz, in: Musica 2003, Programmbuch des Festivals, Strasbourg 2003, S. 123-133
ders.: Hanspeter Kyburz – between associative impatience and obervational detachment, in: Roche Commissions: Hanspeter Kyburz, edited by the Carnegie Hall (New York), The Cleveland Orchestra, Lucerne Festival and Roche, Roche 2006, S. 89-109
Roche Commissions: Hanspeter Kyburz, edited by the Carnegie Hall (New York), The Cleveland Orchestra, Lucerne Festival and Roche, Roche 2006; with Timeline: Life and Works, Selected Discography and texts by Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Betty Freeman Kuno Lorenz, Sabine Marienberg, Frank Madlener, Ulrich Mosch, Patrick Müller, Jonathan Nott, Ueli Wiget and Hans Zender
Sanio, Sabine: Komponieren als Formulieren von Regeln. Hanspeter Kyburz, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 1/1998, S. 24-27
dies.: Jeux d'espace. Entretien avec Hanspeter Kyburz, in: accents 5 (Mai 1998), S. 6-7