Hans Zender is the 2013 composer in residence of the KLANGSPUREN Internationale International Ensemble Modern Academy in conjunction with the KLANGSPUREN Festival. The German composer and conductor will work with Academy participants intensively for ten days from 09/03–09/16/2013.
It is difficult to describe Hans Zender’s music in only a few words. Far too varied and diverse are the approaches and paths it takes; far too complex are the tonally rendered thoughts that reflect a subtile examination of the current cultural and social situation and intellectual horizons that extend beyond the borders of Europe. It embodies the coexistence of seriousness and humor, construction and collage, structural thinking and expressive gesture. Many of his compositions are based on sophisticated microtonal harmonics. Yet Zender, who as a conductor has over the decades gained much practical experience in working with musicians, also considers the playability, the “feasibility” of performing his works. It is above all this aspect of his many abilities that make him predestined to work with the KLANGSPUREN International Ensemble Modern Academy.
His extensive oeuvre can be divided into various work groups or cycles, which often develop over the course of long periods of time. In a large part of his work there is an implicit or explicit reference to literary sources, which suggests an expert familiarity with world literature. Take the three large operas he has written to date: Stephen Climax (based on Ulysses by James Joyce and Symeon, der Stylit by Hugo Ball), Don Quijote de la Mancha (based on Cervantes’ masterpiece), and Chief Joseph about the clash between Native American and Western civilizations. In the Cantos (including Logos-Fragmente) and other vocal works for varied ensembles one finds an intensive examination of religious and philosophical content; reflected in the cycle Lo-shu, in Kalligraphien and in compositions with Japanese titles (e.g. Issei no kyô) is his interest in Far Eastern, especially Zen philosophy, in its fundamentally other conception of time. The cycle Hölderlin lesen fits in well with the theme of KLANGSPUREN 2013 “Neue Musik und romantisches Erbe” (New Music and Romantic Legacy), as does a series of adaptations of romantic works referred to by Zender as a “composed interpretation”: his large work Schumann-Phantasie for orchestra, the adaptation of Schubert’s Winterreise (with varied instrumentation), and his most recent composition 33 Veränderungen über 33 Veränderungen based on Beethoven’s late work, Diabelli Variations.
“The history of Ensemble Modern is inextricably linked to Hans Zender, who will run the Academy alongside ensemble members: Zender not only significantly encouraged and inspired the founding of Ensemble Modern, but has also been an important partner as a conductor and composer since the early 80s. Key works, such as “Winterreise” – to be studied at the academy – and “33 Veränderungen über 33 Veränderungen” were written for Ensemble Modern.” Both works will be performed at KLANGSPUREN 2013.”
Born in 1936 in Wiesbaden, Hans Zender studied composition with Wolfgang Fortner. He was principal conductor of the Bonn Opera (1964–68), General Director of Music in Kiel (1969–72), principal conductor of the Radio Symphony Orchestra Saarbrücken (1971–84), the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hamburg State Opera (1984–87), and the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra (1987–90), among others. Since 1999 he has been a permanent guest conductor and member of the artistic board of the SWR Symphony Orchestra in Baden-Baden and Freiburg. 1988–2000 he was professor of composition in Frankfurt. As a young man in Darmstadt and Donaueschingen and later during the course of his conducting and teaching career Hans Zender has continuously and strongly promoted the musical avant-garde, the work of Olivier Messiaen, Giacinto Scelsi, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, and Helmut Lachenmann, for example.
Gerhard R. Koch of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine sums up Zender’s artistic stance as follows:
Zender is everything but a composer of sound oases. He abhors generalization. His music, nevertheless, has moments of deep peacefulness, for through precise organization he has never lost sight of the spiritual component, the mysticism of the Christian Middle Ages or that of Japanese haiku.
Matthias Osterwold, artistic director KLANGSPUREN Schwaz