Gruber, H(einz) K(arl) “Nali,”
Gruber, H(einz) K(arl) “Nali,”
Gruber, H(einz) K(arl) “Nali,” Austrian composer, conductor, chansonnier, and double bass player, great-great-grandson of Franz Xaver Gruber; b. Vienna, Jan. 3, 1943. After singing in the Vienna Boy’s Choir (1953-57), he studied double bass with Planyavsky and Streicher, composition with Uhl and Ratz, and serial techniques with Jelinek at the Vienna Academy of Music (1957-63). In 1963-64 he attended a masterclass in composition there with Einem. He pursued his career in Vienna, where he joined the die reihe ensemble as a double bass player in 1961. From 1963 to 1969 he was principal double bass in the Niederösterreiches Tonkunstler Orch. In 1968 he co-founded with Schwertsik and Zykan the avant-garde group MOB art & tone ART, with which he was active until 1971. He played double bass in the Austrian Radio Sym. Orch. from 1969 to 1998. He then devoted much of his time to pursuing a career as a conductor and chansonnier. In 1979 he was awarded the music prize of the Austrian Ministry of Culture and Education. While Gruber’s works are basically tonal in nature, he has developed an unbuttoned personal style in which serious and lighter elements are given free reign as the mood strikes him. His self-described “pandemonium” Frankenstein!! (1976-77) brought him international recognition. Among his later significant works were his 2 violin concertos (1977-78; 1988) and his Cello Concerto (1989).
DRAMATIC Die Vertreibung aus dem Paradies, melodrama (1966; ORF, Vienna, Feb. 11, 1969; rev. 1979); Gomorra, musical spectacle (1970-72; withdrawn; new version, 1984-91; Vienna, Jan. 18, 1993); Reportage aus Gomorra for 5 Singers and 8 Players (1975-76); Frankenstein!!, “pandemonium” for Baritone Channsonier and Orch. (1976-77; Liverpool, Nov. 25, 1978; also for Baritone Channsonier and 12 Instruments, Berlin, Sept. 30, 1979); Bring me the head of Amadeus, music for the television series Not Mozart (BBC2-TV, London, Nov. 17, 1991); Gloria von Jaxtberg, music theater (1992-93; Huddersfield, England, Nov. 11, 1994). ORCH.: Concerto for Orchestra (1960-64); Manhattan Broadcasts for Light Orch. (1962-64); furbass, double bass concerto (1965); Revue for Chamber Orch. (1968); Vergrosserung (1970); Arien for Violin and Orch. (1974-75; withdrawn); 2 violin concertos: No. 1, …aus Schatten duft gewebt (1977-78; Berlin, Sept. 29, 1979; rev. 1992) and No. 2, Nebelsteinmusik (St. Florian, July 19, 1988); Entmilitarisierte Zonen, march paraphrases for Brass Band (Zagreb, May 17, 1979); Charivari: An Austrian Journal (1981; London, Aug. 23, 1983; rev. 1984); Rough Music, percussion concerto (1982-83; ORF, Vienna, Oct. 30, 1983); Concerto for Cello and Ensemble or Small Orch. (Tanglewood, Aug. 3, 1989); Aerial, trumpet concerto (1998-99; London, July 29, 1999). CHAMBER: Suite for 2 Pianos, Winds, and Percussion (1960); Improvisationen for Wind Quintet (1961); Concerto No. 1 for Flute, Vibraphone, Xylophone, and Percussion (1961) and No. 2 for Tenor Saxophone, Double Bass, and Percussion (1961); 4 Pieces for Violin (1963; Vienna, May 20, 1966); Gioco a Tre for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1963); 2 Rhapsodies for Cello and Piano (1964); Spiel for Wind Quintet (1967); 3 MOB Pieces for 7 Interchangeable Instruments and Percussion (1968; rev. 1977; Graz, Oct. 14, 1979); Bossa Nova for Ensemble (1968); Die wirkliche Wut über den verlorenen Groschen for 5 Players (1972); Festmusik for Chamber Ensemble (1972); Phantom-Bilder auf der Spur eines verdachtigten Themas for 12 or 13 Players or Small Orch. (1977; London, March 7, 1979); Anagramm for 6 Cellos (ORF, Graz, Oct. 22, 1987). Piano : Episoden for 2 Pianos (1961); Sechs Episoden aus einer unterbrochenen Chronik (1967; Vienna, Feb. 20, 1968); Luftschlösser (Schloss Grafenegg, May 9, 1981). VOCAL: Mass for Chorus, 2 Trumpets, English Horn, Double Bass, and Percussion (1960); Drei Lieder for Baritone, Ensemble, and Tape (1961); 5 Kinderlieder for Women’s Chorus (1965; rev. 1980); Zeitstimmung for Baritone and Chamber Orch. (1995-96); other choruses and songs. OTHER: Konjugationen (for tape, 1963).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire