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Fritsch, Johannes (Georg)

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Fritsch, Johannes (Georg)

(b Bensheim-Auerbach, 27 July 1941). German composer and viola player. While reading musicology, philosophy and sociology at Cologne University (1961–5), he also studied the viola and composition with Zimmermann and Koenig at the Staatliche Musikhochschule. He attended the Darmstadt summer courses, where he distinguished himself as composer and performer with Duett in 1962. He played the viola in the Stockhausen Ensemble from 1964 until 1970. Fritsch also worked in the electronic studios of West German Radio, producing Fabula rasa in 1964 and Modulation IV in 1968. He taught theory at the Rheinische Musikschule, Cologne (1965–70), and from 1971 to 1984 he taught a composition class and the course on contemporary music at the Darmstadt Academy of Music, at the same time teaching general harmony and the aesthetics of the media at the Cologne Musikhochschule, where he became professor of composition in 1984. He has been active as a writer on new music, and as an editor of various publications, including the journal Feedback Papers (from 1971).

In 1970, together with Gehlhaar and Johnson, he founded the Feedback Studio and followed this in 1971 with the foundation of the studio’s publishing firm (the first German publishing house to be run by composers). In the same year he organized what was known as ‘Hinterhausmusiken’ and edited the Feedback Papers. He was on the board of the Darmstadt Institute for Contemporary Music and Musical Education (1974–98). He lectured at the Darmstadt summer courses (1974, 1984 and 1986) and organized the World Music Conferences in Vlotho (1979, 1982, 1984 and 1986). Prizes awarded to him include one from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (1966), the prize of the Paris Biennale (1971), a Villa Massimo bursary (1976) and the Robert Schumann prize of the city of Düsseldorf (1981).

In his works of the 1960s (particularly Akroasis and Modulation IV), Fritsch tried to bring about a mediation between artificial and natural sounds, so that the music is not isolated as an abstract, aesthetic object, but rather is permanently in confrontation with its environment and the external conditions of its generative process. Thus, daily life and history, sacred and profane, European and exotic music, are all used as sources of material to be composed into the work’s setting of perspective. As a result, his work at this time had a pronounced collage character and drew on a wide diversity of media.

While Fritsch took his guidelines mainly from Zimmermann and Stockhausen in his early works (up to the beginning of the 1970s), his later compositions, from the mid-1980s onwards, bear increasingly clear traces of the influence of Morton Feldman. The reduction of both material and methods, the intensification of the single sound and a turning towards archetypal and meditative phenomena that are religious in the widest sense are all major aspects of his late work, in which the intercultural and harmonic tendencies of earlier years are still present.


(selective list)

Duett, va, tape, 1961; Bestandteile des vorüber (M. Bense), S, bn, b cl, hn, trbn, b trbn, b tuba, 3 db, 1962; Fabula rasa, 4-track tape, 1964; Ikonen, 3 pf, 1964; Partita, va, elec, 1965–6; Modulation I, vn, va, vc, db, pf, 1966; Akroasis, news reader, jazz band, 2vv, music box, large orch, 1966–8; Modulation IV, elec, 1968; Sul G (Oktober 1970), fl, pf, 1970; Violectra, va d’amore, synth, 1971; Hochtöner, fl, va, perc, synth, tape, 1974; Conc., tpt, orch, 1975; Die Regel war unabänderlich – ein Requiem, ballet, tape, 1975–6; Trio, va, trbn, pf, ring mod, 1977; Klavierstück 2, prep pf, 1978; Der grosse Gesang (ballet, P. Neruda), spkr, Mez, Ct, gui, trbn, tape, 1979–80; Kreuzgänge, orch, 1983; Testament Vivier, wind qnt, pf, tape, 1983; Conc., vc, orch, 1985; Hohes Lied, Mez, Ct, a fl, cl, trbn, 3 Baumstämme, 1988; Noel für 3 flöten, fl, a fl, b fl, 1990; Das bittersüsse Büchlein, ob, accdn, db, 1992; Damals (Beckett), spkr/tape, org, 1992; Trio vom Ende (S. Beckett: Damals), B, a fl, perc, 1992; Aschenbrödel (op, 2, R. Walser: Märchen), 2 S, Mez, A, Ct, T, Bar, large orch, 1989–95; Herbstlicht, 2 scenes, orch, 1994–5; RM’96, a fl, vc, pf, ring mod, 1996; Traum (F. García Lorca), 4 songs, spkr, S, eng hn, hn, vc, pf, 1998

Principal publisher: Feedback Studio


‘Musik und Symmetrie’, Symmetrie in Kunst, Natur und Wissenschaft, i (Darmstadt, 1986), 391–403

‘Identität in der Musik’, Neue Musik – Quo vadis, ed. D. de la Motte (Mainz, 1988), 78–97

‘Formvorstellungen’, Form in der Neuen Musik: Darmstadt 1992, 35–52

‘Über den Inhalt von Musik’, Zeichen-Kunst (Zeichen und Interpretation IV), ed. W. Stegmaier (Frankfurt, 1999)


K. Stockhausen: Texte zur Musik 1963–70 (Cologne, 1971)


Fritsch [Fritschius, Frizsch, Fricz], Thomas

(b Görlitz, bap. 25 Aug 1563; d Breslau [now Wrocław], 27 March 1619). German composer. He may have attended the Gymnasium in Görlitz although there is no evidence that he received his musical training from Kantor Winkler. He was a member of the order of Kreuzherren mit dem Roten Stern at Breslau. In 1608 he became prior at the monastery and in 1609, following the death of Johann Henceius, he was elected master. However, the monastery failed to notify the master-general of their decision, and he nullified the election. After a new vote, Elias Bachstein was appointed master and Fritsch was despatched to a monastery in Bohemia for three years. He may have returned to Breslau in autumn 1612. Fritsch was evidently on good terms with Georg Rudolph, Duke of Liegnitz, to whom his motet collections were dedicated. The title ‘Magister’ in the tenor volume of his Novum et insigne opus musicum (1620) was probably a posthumous tribute to a highly-esteemed musician and composer. The main source of his music, all of it sacred, is Novum et insigne opus musicum, which contains 119 works for four to ten voices for the church year. It was complemented by several other works surviving only in manuscript, but most of these disappeared at the end of World War II. Fritsch adhered on the whole to the conventions of late Renaissance polyphonic music and was clearly influenced by Lassus, Handl and Hassler. He also cultivated polychoral techniques, even when writing for only six voices (as in Gabriel angelus apparuit, in PL-PE). His music is clearly transitional in character and typical of a period when the declining Renaissance was slowly giving way to early Baroque practice. There is often a close correlation between words and music both in works to Latin texts – the vast majority – and in the four pieces to German texts in the 1620 volume.


Novum et insigne opus musicum, compositum ad totius anni festivitates (119 compositions), 4–10vv (Breslau, 1620); facs. score and partial edn of 2 motets in AMP, i–ii (1963–4); ed. in EDM (forthcoming)

2 motets, 5 Lat. hymns, some 6vv, A-Wm, PL-PE; facs. score and partial edn of 1 motet in AMP, i–ii (1963–4)

2 masses, 6, 8vv; Magnificat, tone 7, 5vv; 2 motets, 6vv; 1 Lat., 4 Ger. hymns, 4, 6–8vv: lost, formerly D-Bs; Stadtbibliothek, Breslau; Biblioteca Rudolfina, Liegnitz

For full details see Bohn, Pfudel, Riedel






MGG1 (F. Feldmann)


E. Pfudel: Die Musik-Handschriften der Königlichen Ritter-Akademie zu Liegnitz (Leipzig, 1886)

E. Bohn: Die musikalischen Handschriften des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts in der Stadtbibliothek zu Breslau (Breslau, 1890/R)

E. von Kleist: ‘Das Matthiasstift des Ordens der Kreuzherren mit dem rothen Stern’, Festschrift des St. Matthiasgymnasium (Breslau, 1911)

W. Scholz: Beiträge zur Musikgeschichte der Stadt Liegnitz von ihren Anfängen bis etwa zum Jahre 1800 (Liegnitz, 1941)

F.W. Riedel: Das Musikarchiv im Minoritenkonvent zu Wien, CaM, i (1963)

A. Kolbuszewska: Katalog zbiórow muzycznych legnickiej biblioteki ksiecia Jerzego Rudolfa Bibliotheca Rudophina [Catalogue of the music collections in Prince Jerzy Rudolf's library in Legnica, the Biblioteca Rudolfina] (Legnica, 1992)


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