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Cerha, Friedrich

Cerha, Friedrich

Cerha, Friedrich, notable Austrian composer, conductor, and pedagogue; b. Vienna, Feb. 17, 1926. He began violin lessons at the age of six and began to compose when he was nine. He studied composition with Uhi and violin with Prihoda at the Vienna Academy of Music (1946–51), and also pursued training in musicology and philosophy at the Univ. of Vienna (Ph.D., 1950). In 1956 he attended the summer courses in new music in Darmstadt, and in 1957 he held a Rome fellowship. With Kurt Schwertsik, he founded the new music ensemble “die reihe” in Vienna in 1958, and remained associated with it for over 40 years. In 1959 he became a lecturer at the Vienna Academy of Music, where he served as a prof. from 1976 to 1988. From 1960 he was active as a conductor, becoming particularly known for his programming of contemporary works. In 1970–71 he was in Berlin on a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst fellowship. Cerha received the Prize of the City of Vienna in 1974 and was awarded the Great Austrian State Prize in 1986 for his contributions to music. In his large output, he has created scores notable for their innovative blending of traditional idioms and contemporary techniques. He also completed the third act of Berg’s unfinished opera Lulu (1962–78), which was first given in its finished version in Paris on Feb. 24, 1979.


DRAMATIC: Spiegel, theater piece (1960–61); Netzwerk, theater piece (1962–67, 1980; Vienna, May 31, 1981); Baal, opera after Brecht (1974–80; Salzburg, Aug. 7, 1981); Der Kattenfanger, theater piece after Zuckmayer (1984–86; Graz, Sept. 26, 1987). orch.:Sinfonia in un Movimento (1947–49; Innsbruck, June 3, 1959); Concerto for Strings (1947–50; Vienna, Dec. 5, 1993, composer conducting); Triptychon for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Strings (1948–51; Vienna, Dec. 5, 1993); Piano Concerto (1951–54; Vienna, Oct. 16, 1998); Relazioni fragili for Harpsichord and Chamber Ensemble (1956–57; Vienna, May 16, 1960, composer conducting); Espressioni fondamentali (1957; Berlin, Nov. 17, 1960); Mouvements I–III for Chamber Orch. (1959; Berlin, Oct. 4, 1962, composer conducting); Intersecazioni for Violin and Orch. (1959–73; Graz, Oct. 16, 1973); Fasce (1959–74; Graz, Oct. 8, 1975); Spiegel I-VII for Orch. and Tape (1960–61; 1st complete perf., Graz, Oct. 9, 1972, composer conducting); Phantasma 63 (Vienna, May 25, 1963, composer conducting); Symphonien for Winds and Timpani (1964; Baden-Baden, Nov. 27, 1970); Catalogue des objets trouvés for Chamber Orch. (1969; Vienna, March 16, 1970, composer conducting); Langegger Nachtmusik I (1969; Berlin, Oct. 1, 1970, composer conducting), II (Hamburg, April 20, 1970, composer conducting), and III (1990; Berlin, April 27, 1991, composer conducting); Sym. (1975; Royan, March 25, 1976, composer conducting); Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orch. (1975; Vienna, April 26, 1976, composer conducting); Double Concerto for Flute, Bassoon, and Orch. (1982; Graz, Oct. 7, 1983); Monumentum für Karl Prantl (1988; Salzburg, Aug. 12, 1989); Phantasiestück in C.’s Manier for Cello and Orch. (Vienna, Nov. 24, 1989, composer conducting; expanded as a Cello Concerto, 1996; Berlin, Sept. 11, 1998); Impulse (1992–93; Vienna, April 13, 1996); Viola Concerto (1993; Vienna, April 2, 1995, composer conducting); Concerto for Violin, Accordion, and Chamber Orch. (1994; Vienna, March 11, 1996, composer conducting); Jahr long ins Ugewisse hinab (1995–96; Vienna, May 14, 1997, composer conducting). chamber:Arie und Fuge for 8 Winds (1946–47; Vienna, Feb. 21, 1991); 3 violin sonatas: No. 1 (1947; Vienna, Feb.24, 1951), No. 2 (1953; Innsbruck, May 30, 1956), and No. 3 (1954; Vienna, April 22, 1959); Konzertante Tafelmusik for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Trumpet (1947–48; Vienna, April 26, 1957; rev. version as Divertimento for 8 Winds and Percussion, 1954; Vienna, April 30, 1955); Sonata for Violin and Guitar (1951; Vienna, Jan. 28, 1953); Viola Sonata (1951; Vienna, May 25, 1952); Ricercar, Toccata und Passacaglia for Flute, Viola d’Amore, and Lute (1951; Vienna, Feb. 2, 1956; also for Flute, Viola d’Amore, and Harpsichord, 1952); Deux éclats en reflexion for Violin and Piano (1956; Vienna, March 25, 1957); Formation et solution for Violin and Piano (1956–57; Darmstadt, Sept. 12, 1958); Enjambements for Chamber Ensemble (1959); Curriculum for 13 Winds (1971–72; N.Y., Feb. 18, 1973); 3 string quartets: No. 1 (1989; Salzburg, Feb. 1, 1991), No. 2 (1989–90; Evian, May 12, 1991), and No. 3 (1991–92; Vienna, May 3, 1992); Quellen for Chamber Ensemble (Klosterneuburg, Nov. 22, 1992); Für K for Chamber Ensemble (St. Pòlten, Sept. 25, 1993); Saxophone Quartet (1995; Vienna, March 16, 1996); Acht Satze nach Hôlderlin- Fragmenten for String Sextet (1995; Cologne, Oct. 3, 1996); Sechs Stücke for Violin (1997; 1st complete perf., Vienna, March 24, 1998). keyboard: piano :Klavierübung in barocken Formen für R. C.(1954); Slowakische Erinnerungen aus der Kindheit (1956–89; Vienna, April 20, 1994); Klavierstücke 58 (1958); Elegie (1963); Adaxl-Suite (1970, 1987); Netzwerk- Fantasie (1988; Vienna, Nov. 26, 1989). vocal:Sechs Lieder for Voice and Piano (1945–7; Vienna, May 1, 1949); Ein Buch von der Minne for Voice and Piano (1946–64); Sonnengesang des heiligen Franz von Assisi for Soloists, Chorus, and String Orch. (1948–52; Vienna, May 25, 1954); Zehn Rubaijat des Omar Chajjam for Chorus (1949–55; Vienna, Dec. 7, 1956); An die Herrscher der Welt, cantata for 3 Soloists and Chorus (1951; Vienna, Jan. 24, 1988); Exercises for Baritone, Speaker, and Instrumental Ensemble (1962–67; Vienna, March 26, 1968; rev. 1987); Verzeichnis for 16 Voices or Chorus (1969; Bremen, June 30, 1970); Keintate I (1980–81; Vienna, June 19, 1983) and 17 (1983–85; Vienna, June 10, 1991) for Medium Voice and Instruments; Baal- Gesange for Baritone and Orch. (1981; Hamburg, Jan. 22, 1982, composer conducting); Nachtgesang for Tenor and Orch. (1984; Stuttgart, April 18, 1986, composer conducting); In memoriam Ernst Kein for Medium Voice and Instruments (1985; Krems, June 18, 1996, composer conducting); Eine Art Chansons for Chansonnier, Percussion, Piano, and Double Bass (1985–87; St. Pòlten, June 28, 1988); “bevor es zu spat ist” for Tenor and Orch. (1988–97); Requiem fur Rilke for Tenor and Orch., after Der Rattenfanger (1989; Vienna, May 15, 1991; composer conducting); Requiem for Chorus and Orch. (1994; Stuttgart, Aug. 16, 1995); Lichtenberg-Splitter for Baritone and Instrumental Ensemble (1997; Vienna, Jan. 16, 1998, composer conducting); Song Cycle for Baritone and Orch. (1999; Las Palmas, Jan. 15, 2001). other: Completion of Act III of Berg’s opera Lulu (1962–78; Paris, Feb. 24, 1979).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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