When one thinks of the Romanian-German composer Adriana Hölszky (*1953 in Bucharest), three things spontaneously come to mind: her penchant for bizarre stories, behind which the dark side of history lurks; her creative way of handling the human voice; and the three-dimensionality of many of her pieces. Concealed behind all these characteristics is an eminent theatrical interest.


Already in her first musical theatre piece Hölszky drew on a gruesome theme. But in her version of Bremer Freiheit (Bremen Freedom), 1987, the fate of the poisoner Geesche Gottfried is twisted into a grotesque. This style, which sometimes calls to mind a Grand Guignol tone, is expanded in the second stage piece by the composer: Die Wände, 1993-95, based on the drama Les paravents (The Screens) by Jean Genet. In it, she produces an effect of whispering mysteriousness through the distribution of several instrumentalists throughout the space and through the choir, which musically symbolises the screens.


Back in 1993, Hölszky interpreted Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz’s Gemälde eines Erschlagenen (Painting of a Man Beaten to Death) with whispers, screams, chirring, and gurgling in her eponymous vocal piece, in which the 72 singers arranged throughout the auditorium create a spiral of phonetic sounds. Twenty years later in her most recent musical theatre piece Böse Geister (Evil Spirits), 2013, based on Dostoevsky’s Demons, the choir even assumes the enigmatic leading role, which rails – at times whispering secretively, at times loudly and shrilly screeching – against the current re-ascendency of authoritarian structures.


Many of Hölszky’s chamber music works also possess an intrinsic theatrical aspect, which is alluded to in such titles as Requisiten (Props), 1984/85, or Lemuren und Gespenster (Lemurs and Ghosts), 2004/05. Hölszky will be a great asset to IEMA in 2020, not only because of her diverse pieces but also thanks to her many years of experience in teaching, for example at the Mozarteum in Salzburg from 2000 to 2013.

Adriana Hölszky @Archiv Stiftung Mozarteum

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