Matthus: Manhattan Concerto
for orchestra

world première New York, May 16, 1994

In December 1990 the Manhattan School of Music in New York staged my opera “Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke” (Cornet Christoph Rilke’s Song of Love and Death) with great success. I was then commissioned to write an opera for the 75th anniversary of New York’s first music school in 1994. Since there was not enough time left I suggested writing an orchestral piece for the occasion. At the staging of the opera I had been highly impressed by the orchestra’s excellent percussion group and I wanted to put it at the centre of the composition. Between September 1993 and January 1994 an orchestra concerto was created with percussion obligato. As my compositions have been produced there quite frequently I have been to New York often and have come to love the city. I have assimilated impressions of these visits in the compositions, so the title actually refers to the content, too. The world première of the Manhattan Concerto took place on 16 May 1994, directed by Kurt Masur.
(Siegfried Matthus)

The highlight of the composition is a great percussion cadenza, described by Matthus as “a theatrical contest between the three percussionists”. He goes on to say: “it should not go as far as being cabaret, but the percussionists really should do a little more than merely play the notes.” Most especially at the point where the first two percussionists meet and “try to get into each other’s part by drumming over each other.” […] The third percussionist pushes in between the two and separates the fighting cocks with his passages on the side drums. In the end the “winner” is – of course – the timpanist who “thunders away” at them all.”
(Thomas Sick)

Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra, cond. Günther Herbig
CD RMM 22095
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken, cond. Günther Herbig
CD 40012004
Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen, cond. Siegfried Matthus
CD „Siegfried Matthus – Beloved Dionysos, Genuin, GEN 89144