Jörg Widmann: 180 beats per minute

Program Note

180 beats per minute was composed in 1993 shortly after I had left school. My inspiration for this piece was the then highly popular, fast “techno beats”. A rhythmic drive and permanent change of pulse whizzes past at maximum speed (180 beats per minute). The structure becomes condensed into a study on one single chord which in principle is varied throughout the entire piece while remaining constant from the aspect of its tonal material. Ultimately, the music fuses into a six-voice canon, wandering through all instruments from the first violin to the third cello and oscillating between a major and minor third. The work makes no claims to be more than the sum of its parts – the sheer enjoyment of rhythm.

—Jörg Widmann

Jörg Widmann studied clarinet at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich with Gerd Starke and later with Charles Neidich at The Juilliard School. At the age of eleven he began to take his first composition lessons and continued subsequent studies with Wilfried Hiller and Hans Werner Henze and later Heiner Goebbels and Wolfgang Rihm. He was composer and artist-in-residence at the Salzburg Festival, the Lucerne Festival, the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Cleveland Orchestra, and currently with the Bamberger Symphoniker and the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich. His cycle of five string quartets has been recorded by both the Minguett Quartet and Leipzig Quartet. This past season, Widmann’s Piano Concerto, Trauermarsch (2014), was premiered in the USA with Yefim Bronfman and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. The Boston Symphony and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra have commissioned him to write a piece for their planned collaboration next year. In 2001, he was appointed professor of clarinet and composition at the Freiburg Staatliche Hochschule für Musik.

Jörg Widmann was Yellow Barn’s 2015 Composer in Residence.