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Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf (born 22 October 1962) is a German composer, editor, and author.
Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf was born in Mannheim, West Germany, and studied composition with Brian Ferneyhough, Klaus Huber und Emanuel Nunes and music theory at the music academy in Freiburg, where he graduated in 1992. At the same time, he studied musicology, philosophy with Jürgen Habermas and sociology at university. In 1993 he was awarded a doctorate in philosophy for his dissertation on Arnold Schönberg. For his compositions Mahnkopf has won numerous international prizes, among them the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 1990, the composition prize of the city Stuttgart and the Composers Award of the Ernst-von-Siemens Music Foundation in 1998. Mahnkopf went to Rome (Villa Massimo), Italy, Venice (Centro Tedesco di Studi Veneziani), Italy, and Basel (Paul-Sacher-Stiftung), Swiss, on scholarships. In 1995 he was one the founders of the Gesellschaft für Musik und Ästhetik (society for music and aesthetics) and he is also one of the editors of the society’s magazine. Mahnkopf worked as music theory teacher and as consultant for opera houses and he published many essays in musicological magazines. In 1999 he married professor doctor Francesca Yardenit Albertini, a Jewish philosopher of religion. From 2001 until 2005 Mahnkopf worked regularly at the Experimental Studio of the SWR. Since 2005 Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf teaches composition at the University of Music and Theatre "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" in Leipzig. His music is being performed by many ensembles, like SurPlus or ensemble recherche on international festivals, for example on the Salzburger Festspiele or the Flandern Festival. Among the artists to perform his works regularly are oboist Peter Veale, Sophie-Mayuko Vetter, Carin Levine, James Avery and Frank Cox.
Mahnkopf is associated with the New Complexity movement which, in 1997, he proposed should be designated the Second Darmstadt School (Fox 2001). his music has its roots in the German-Austrian music tradition; he frequently falls back on Ludwig van Beethoven and Alban Berg. The modern avant-garde has a great influence on his works, which are of exceeding complexity. Mahnkopf is working frequently with multiphonics for all kinds of instruments (e.g., the oboe), quarter and eighth tones and harmonics. In “Mon Coeur mis a nu”, for example, he uses just differently articulated vowels and consonants for the singers. Mahnkopf is convinced of the autonomy of art, but believes that art also has to be considered in context of culture and the modern democratic society.
- Angelus novus (1997/2000)
- musical theatre by Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf after Walter Benjamin, soloists : Soprano, Flute, Piccolo Oboe, Violoncello, Piano, Percussion (variable), written for the Munich Biennale
- Prospero’s Epilogue (2004)
- for piano and orchestra, written for Salzburger Festspiele
- humanized void (2003–2007)
- for large orchestra, written for Bayerischer Rundfunk
- Chorismos (1986/1987)
- Medusa (1990–1992)
- for oboe/English horn and chamber orchestra
- Meta Medeian (1994)
- serenade for strings
- Kammersymphonie 1,2, & 3 (1993/94, 1997/99 & 2007)
- »il faut continuer« Requiem for Samuel Beckett (1990–92)
- for chamber ensemble
- Solitude-Sérénade (1997)
- for piccolo oboe and ensemble
- Angela Nova (1999/2000)
- for soprano and ensemble
- Todesmusik I & II (2001, “Music of Death”)
- for ensemble
- Krebs-Zyklus (1985, “Cancer Cycle”)
- for violoncello and piano
- Die Schlangen der Medusa (1991, „Medusa’s Snakes“)
- for (4) clarinet(s)
- Illuminations du brouillard (1992/1993)
- for oboe and piano, written for the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Arts
- Mon coeur mis à nu (1986/1996/1997)
- for four voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), written for the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Arts
- Trio basso for viola, cello and double bass (1995)
- resquiescant in pace (2000)
- in memoriam victimarum christianitatis, for four players (violin, viola, violoncello and percussion), written for ensemble recherche
- Hommage à Frank Cox (2006)
- for three players (electric guitar, quarter-tone vibraphone and piano), written for ensemble asamisimasa
- Monade (1985/1986)
- for oboe
- memor sum (1989)
- for viola
- Stheno und Euryale (1992)
- for harp or for harp with a second, scordated harp
- La terreur d’ange nouveau (1997–99)
- for flute
- deconstructing accordion (2000/2001)
- for accordion, written for Südwestrundfunk
- Beethoven-Kommentar (2004)
- for piano
With Electronic Media
- D.E.A.T.H (2001/2002)
- for eight-track tape
- W.A.S.T.E (2001/2002)
- for oboe and live electronics
- void – mal d’archive (2002/2003)
- space and sound composition, for eight-track tape
- Mahnkopf, Claus-Steffen, Veale Peter. The Techniques of Oboe Playing. A Compendium with Additional Remarks on the Oboe D’amore and Cor Anglais. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1994.
- Since 1997 editor of the magazine Musik und Ästhetik. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.
- Since 2002 editor of the book series New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century. Hofheim: Wolke-Verlag in collaboration with the Gesellschaft für Musik und Ästhetik
- Editor of the study series sinefonia. Hofheim: Wolkeverlag.
- Klein, Richard, Mahnkopf, Claus-Steffen. Mit den Ohren denken. Suhrkamp 1998.
- Mahnkopf, Claus-Steffen. Kritische Theorie der Musik. Velbrück 2006.
- Huber, Klaus, Mahnkopf, Claus-Steffen. Von Zeit zu Zeit. Hofheim: Wolke-Verlag 2009.
- Anon. 2004. "Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf". Komponisten der Gegenwart, edited by Hanns-Werner Heister, Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer. Munich: edition text + kritik.
- Fox, Christopher. 2001. "New Complexity." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Mahnkopf, Claus-Steffen. Preface to Mon Coeur mis a nu (score).
- Mahnkopf, Claus-Steffen. Preface to Second Chamber Symphony (score).