(b Metzingen, Baden-Württemberg, 3 July 1952). German composer. He studied composition, mathematics and musicology in Tübingen and Stuttgart, and from 1978 to 1982 studied composition with Klaus Huber in Freiburg. In 1979 he received a stipend from the Heinrich Strobel Foundation of SWF. After living in London (1983–8), he became professor of composition and music theory at the Hanover Hochschule für Musik und Theater (1989). In 1997 he was appointed professor of composition at the Salzburg Mozarteum. His honours include the Beethoven Prize of the city of Bonn (1980), a stipend from the Villa Massimo in Rome (1984), and composition prizes from the Boswil composition seminar and the Steinbrenner Foundation (Berlin).
Febel belongs to the generation of composers who were described at the end of the 1970s as neo-Romantics and representatives of ‘new simplicity’. He distinguished himself from his contemporaries and their seemingly casual adoption of traditional methods in his ‘lucid construction, his sensitive, brilliant yet reserved and cool sensuality, his technical precision and his alert practice of reflection’ (H. Lachenmann). These features are mirrored in his new postmodern philosophy of music. His works are intended to be heard as composed with tonal methods but not within tonality. Influenced by Zen Buddhism and modern physics, he conceptualizes his musical material in terms of alternating or overlapping relationships. His aesthetics have followed the transformational rules of an historical understanding that recognizes all events in music history as expressible in composition. Consequently, the concept of bricolage, which he discovered in the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss, has become one of his fundamental aesthetic principles.
Dramatic: Euridice (chbr op, H. Danninger, after O. Rinuccini), 1983, Munich, 1983 [after J. Peri]; Nacht mit Gästen (Musiktheater, Febel, after P. Weiss), 1987–8, Kiel, 1988; David und Gollert (Die Orchesterprobe) (dramatische Szene, P. Esterházy), B-Bar, orch, 1987, Freiburg, 1988 [after D. Cimarosa: Der Kapellmeister]; Der Zauberbaum (film score), 1987; Sekunden und Jahre des Caspar Hauser (op, 3, L. Hemleb), 1991–2, Dortmund, 1992; Morels Erfindung (op, Hemleb, after A.B. Casares), 1994, Darmstadt, 1994; Beauty (Hemleb), 1995–6, Hagen, 1996
Vocal: Kolomb (F. Hölderlin), female v, vc, 1982; 3 Lieder (I. Bachmann, Febel, W. Biermann), spkr, female v, pf, tape, 1982; Das Unendliche (G. Leopardi), 2vv, orch, 1984; Joker (Febel), S, 5 insts, 1986; Winterreise (R. Walser), A, 1992; Die vier Zeiten (P.O. Runge), S, A, T, B, SATB, 1993
Chbr and solo inst: Polyphonie, vn/va, 1981; Str Qt, 1981–2; Innere Stimmen, pf, 1982; Nocturne I, ob, bn, tpt, trbn, vn, vc, pf, perc, 1982; Nocturne II, 3 perc, 1982; Tango, pf, 1984; Auf der Galerie, 11 str, 1985 [after F. Kafka]; Impromptus, fl + pic, cl + b cl, 1987; Pf Trio, 1989; Pf Bk I, 1991; Pf Bk II, 1993; Perc Bk, 1994; Pf Bk III, 1994; Sculpture/Motion Picture, 19 str, 1999
K.-M.Hinz: ‘Tonalität nach ihrer Katastrophe’, Musikalische Zeitfragen, xvi (1985) [interview]
G.Katzenberger, ed.: Reinhard Febel: Beiträge zu seinem musikalischen Schaffen (Feldkirchen, 1994) [Ricordi pubn]
K.-M.Hinz: ‘The Tradition of Mannerism’, CMR, xii (1995)
KLAUS MICHAEL HINZ
Febiarmonici [Febi Armonici].
One or more touring opera companies working in Italy around the middle of the 17th century. The Febiarmonici (‘Musicians of Apollo’) are first known for a performance of La finta pazza, perhaps by Francesco Sacrati, in Piacenza in May 1644. The group consisted of singers (a number from Rome), musicians (perhaps including Benedetto Ferrari) and stage designers. The head of the group is variously noted as Curzio Manara, an engineer, and Giovan Battista Balbi, a dancer and designer. It was modelled on the self-financing touring companies already well established in the spoken theatre and commedia dell'arte traditions.
Performances by the Febiarmonici (it is not always clear whether by the same group) are recorded in Genoa (1644), Florence and Lucca (1645), Bologna and Genoa (1647), Ferrara (1648) and Lucca again (1650; involving Antonio Cesti). In early 1650 the company was brought to Naples by the viceroy, Count d'Oñate: Didone (Cavalli) was staged in October, and in 1651 the troupe performed Egisto (Cavalli), Il Nerone, ovvero L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi; the Naples manuscript doubtless relates to this performance) and Giasone (Cavalli). They also gave the first performance of Cavalli's Veremonda in December 1652. The Febiarmonici generally performed Venetian operas, sometimes modified to suit Neapolitan tastes, although from 1653 native artists were periodically encouraged (for the repertory, see Bianconi and Walker, 379–87). With the departure of Count d'Oñate in late 1653, the Febiarmonici transferred to the Teatro S Bartolomeo (from April 1654): performances, largely of revised Venetian operas, are recorded through to 1668.
‘Febiarmonici’ may have become a generic term for opera companies: a separate group used the same title in Milan and Turin, 1647–8. The institution reflects the emergence of important new modes of operatic production fostered by the ostensible shift from ‘court’ to ‘public’ opera.