Heiner Goebbels

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Heiner Goebbels (born 17 August 1952) is a German composer, director and professor at Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen and artistic director of the International Festival of the Arts Ruhrtriennale 2012 - 2014.


Goebbels, who studied sociology and music in Frankfurt/Main,[1] is a composer of ensemble works and compositions for large orchestra, he created several prize-winning radio plays and staged concerts, and since the early 90's he creates his own music theatre works, which are invited to the most important theatre- and music festivals worldwide.

Goebbels co-founded the "Sogenanntes Linksradikales Blasorchester" (1976-1981) and avant-rock group Cassiber (1982–1992) with Alfred Harth, Chris Cutler and Christoph Anders. They toured extensively across Europe, Asia and North America, and made five albums. In October 1983 Cassiber (minus Anders) joined Duck and Cover, a commission from the Berlin Jazz Festival, for a performance in West Berlin, followed by another in February 1984 in East Berlin.

Much of his better-known work, however, originated from his close collaboration with the East German writer Heiner Müller, resulting in stage compositions as well as shorter pieces (concerts as well as audio plays) based on Müller texts,[1] such as Verkommenes Ufer (Waste Shore, 1984), Die Befreiung des Prometheus (The Liberation of Prometheus, 1985), or Wolokolamsker Chaussee (Volokolamsk Highway, 1989).[citation needed] Goebbels' attempts to fill the space between theatre and opera left blank due to traditional genre borderline drawing[citation needed] has led to projects such as "Ou bien le débarquement désastreux" (Paris 1993), Schwarz auf Weiss (Black on White, 1996)[1] and Die Wiederholung (The Repetition, 1995).[citation needed] The political nature of his work is often referred to by critics.[citation needed] His interest in Heiner Müller can partly be explained by the political character of Müller's texts, as may be the case with his interest in Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler, works by the latter he used in composing his staged concert Eislermaterial (1998).[citation needed] 1998 he also created the music theatre play "Max Black" with words by Paul Valery and others, in 2000 "Hashirigaki" after Gertrude Stein, 2002 his first opera "Landscape with distant relatives", 2004 the price winning "Eraritjaritjaka" with words by Elias Canetti, followed 2007 by the performative installation "Stifters Dinge" which has been performed more than 350 times in four continents. 2007 followed the staged concert "Songs of Wars I have seen" with words by Gertrude Stein - a commission by the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra in the Age of Enlightenment, 2008 "I went to the House but did not enter" with the Hilliard Ensemble and words by Maurice Blanchot, Samuel Beckett a.o. In 2012 he created "When the Mountain changed its clothing" with the Choir Carmina Slovenica, and staged John Cage's "Europeras 1&2" 2012 and Harry Partch's "Delusion of the Fury" 2013 for the Ruhrtriennale International Festival of the Arts.

Goebbels' work is being increasingly acknowledged as he is being played and staged around the world and as his recordings are being published. In 2000 he collaborated with Piano Circus and composer Richard Harris to produce Scutigeras, which received a live BBC radio premiere in the UK. His Surrogate Cities, a work for big orchestra dating from 1994 and featuring texts from Paul Auster, Heiner Müller, and Hugo Hamilton, has been performed widely in Europe, the US and Australia and was nominated for a Grammy in the category Best Classical Contemporary Composition at the 43rd Grammy Awards in 2001.[2] His Eislermaterial won him another Grammy nomination at the 46th Grammy Awards in 2004, this time in the category Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without conductor).[3]

Goebbels is a professor at Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen, Institute for Applied Theater Studies, and at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.[2] Since 2006 he is the President of the Theater Academy of Hesse. In recent years Goebbels enjoyed the privilege of several guest professorships and nominations for composer-in-residence.,[1] he is member of several academies of arts (Berlin, Bensheim, Düsseldorf, Mainz, Munich), Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin, Honorable Fellow at the Dartington College of the Arts and the Central School of Speech and Drama, London. 2012 he was awarded with an honorary doctorate by Birmingham City University.

He received numerous awards and honours, such as Prix Italia, Europe Theatre Prize, and 2012 the International Ibsen Award.

In September 2010, it was announced that Goebbels was the artistic director designate for the 2012-14 seasons of the Ruhrtriennale.[4]

Works (Selection)[edit]

Stage works[edit]

  • When the Mountain Changed Its Clothing (2012/13) Music theatre for mixed choir. Text: Jean Jaques Rousseau, Gertrude Stein, Adalbert Stifter, Alain Robe-Grillet and others
  • I went to the house but did not enter (2007/08) Scenic concert in three pictures for four male voices. Text: T.S. Eliot, Maurice Blanchot, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka
  • Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten (2002) Opera for ensemble, choir and soloists. Texts and motifs by Giordano Bruno, Arthur Chapman/Estelle Philleo, T.S. Eliot, Francois Fénelon, Michel Foucault and others
  • Schwarz auf Weiss (1995/96) Music theatre for eighteen musicians. Text: Edgar Allan Poe, John Webster, T.S. Eliot, Maurice Blanchot
  • Surrogate Cities (1993/94) for mezzo-soprano, speaker, sampler and big orchestra. Text: Heiner Müller, Hugo Hamilton, Paul Auster

Orchestra works[edit]

  • Notiz einer Fanfare (2003) for big orchestra
  • Aus einem Tagebuch (2002/03) Short diary entries for orchestra
  • Walden (1998) for extended orchestra and speaker. Text: H. D. Thoreau
  • Nichts weiter (1996) for orchestra (with the voice of Gustav Gründgens)

Ensemble works[edit]

  • Industry and Idleness (1996/2002) for ensemble
  • Samplersuite from Surrogate Cities (1994) for ensemble
  • Herakles 2 (1991) for seven instruments
  • La Jalousie (1991) Noises from a novel for speaker and ensemble. Text: Alain Robbe-Grillet
  • Red Run (1998/91) Nine Songs for Eleven Instruments

Chamber music[edit]

  • Bagatellen (1986-2006) for violin and sampler and clarinet ad lib.
  • And We Said Good Bye (2002) from Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten for flute, clarinet and playback-CD
  • Harrypatari (1995/96) from Schwarz auf Weiß for zither, marimba, cimbalom, clavichord and e-bass
  • In the Basement (1995/96) for oboe, clarinet, bassoon and electronic feed
  • Toccata for Tea pot and Piccolo (1995/96) from Schwarz auf Weiß for Piccolo and tea pot


  1. ^ a b c d Program for Pacific Musicworks / Seattle Chamber Players performance of Heiner Goebbels Songs of Wars I Have Seen, On the Boards, Seattle, March 4–6, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Heiner Goebbels Faculty Page at European Graduate School (Biography, bibliography and video lectures)". European Graduate School. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  3. ^ ECM and its artists received eight nominations for the 46th Grammy Awards. All about jazz, 2003-12-19.
  4. ^ "Heiner Goebbels is Artistic Director designate". Ruhrtriennale. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 

External links[edit]