Thomas Wilbrandt

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Thomas Wilbrandt (born 1952 in Bielefeld) is a German composer and conductor.

He studied with Franco Ferrara, Hans Swarowsky and Bruno Maderna in Rome, Vienna and Salzburg and was Assistant to Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic for three years in Berlin and Salzburg.

In 1980 he founded the Berlin Chamber Academy (Berliner Kammer-Akademie), a forty-piece orchestra originally formed from players of the Berlin Philharmonic, with whom he recorded a Mozart Series for RCA/Victor. The Berlin Chamber Academy received positive reviews for varying reasons.

Next to international conducting activities and cooperations with major orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, Wilbrandt became more involved in his own projects and recordings, concentrating on his work as a composer, especially in the field of Avant-garde and electronic music. This led to developed experimentation regarding multimedia content and expression and to the constant exploration of new forms of music presentation. Wilbrandt's ongoing issue and ambition was to transform and merge sound and vision into a stimulating new dimension.

One of his first major projects was the creation of a new kind of fusion between acoustic orchestral playing and digital and electronic instruments and sounds, entitled THE ELECTRIC V., a then unheard approach to Vivaldi's famous concert cycle The Four Seasons. The musical style he developed after the formula was a combination of tradition and innovation. The first edition of THE ELECTRIC V. was released in 1984 in twenty countries and rapidly became a worldwide bestseller that was selected by critics as being one of the best available productions on CD in terms both of musical quality and audio technology. Wilbrandt wrote, directed, and produced THE ELECTRIC V. film between 1987 and 1990. Using the most modern state-of-the-art post-production techniques, it was the first realisation of an audio-visual project on such a large scale.

Wilbrandt has composed and advised music for several films and documentaries; amongst others, for the AOS project he contributed music to the highly acclaimed soundtrack of Oliver Stone's film Natural Born Killers.

Ballets with Wilbrandt's music are performed worldwide.

2011 saw the launch of FENNster, a Berlin-based Foundation for Contemporary Art and Multimedia Innovation, initiated by Thomas Wilbrandt. The objective of the foundation was to foster new impulses, combining innovative potential and creative forms of expression as well supporting young artists with studio and working spaces and to develop their creative potential and abilities.


"What is extraordinary about Thomas is the breadth of his abilities. I have been continuously impressed by the range of his talents and interests. As a composer, conductor and, he is always looking for new and interesting ways to approach his work. Thomas is very much a Renaissance man." Peter Gabriel

"... But this is nothing compared to Thomas Wilbrandt's two-CD reinvention of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. It's a sort of strung out version, with fragments of themes, synthesised sounds of nature, and hallucinatory expansions of the accompaniments into long, hazy days and nights. Computers play along with the Philarmonia Orchestra and solo-violinist Christopher Warren-Green. There is even a real conductor. The piece is very good and sexy, it must be great for making love to ..." LA Weekly

"an amazing hitherto unheard blend of classical and electronics. If you want to hear what the music of the year 2000 could sound like, you will be fascinated by this double album – the music of the future is already here." Cosmopolitan

"... an acoustic delicatessen: melting string echoes, fat bass notes from the organ, saturated sound – from the whispered pianissimos to the raging thunderstorm. A Venetian gondola has been turned into a stream-lined musical steamer on a journey to fantasy land." Stern

"Thomas Wilbrandt has the unique ability to visualise the orchestra as one single complex contemporary instrument. His attitude has already displayed an uncanny parallel between the Synclavier/Fairlight sound-building concepts of synthesis – and his own moulding and texturing the wholly organic infrastructure of a living orchestra. Aided by people like Thomas, the orchestra can be thrown, alive and kicking, into the 21st Century." Rupert Hine

Works and releases (selection)[edit]

  • The Mozart Series, Berliner-Kammer-Akademie. Conducted by Thomas Wilbrandt. RCA/VICTOR (1981-1989)
  • The Electric V. – A New Perspective on Vivaldi's Four Seasons (1984), Philharmonia Orchestra. Solo-violin Christopher Warren-Green. Created, arranged, and conducted by Thomas Wilbrandt. Mercury 818 147-2 (1984) Decca 425 205-2 (1988) Thamos 37501 (1999)
  • Antonio Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, Philharmonia Orchestra. Conducted by Thomas Wilbrandt. Solo-violin Christopher Warren-Green. Philips 412 321 (1984)
  • Transforming V. – Variations on Vivaldi, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Created, arranged, and conducted by Thomas Wilbrandt. Decca 425 211 (1990)
  • Erik Satie, Alone, for a Second, Modern Sinfonietta. Created, arranged, and conducted by Thomas Wilbrandt. Decca 425 226 (1991)
  • Modest P. Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition, Modern Sinfonietta. Orchestrated, arranged, and conducted by Thomas Wilbrandt. Decca 436 717 (1993)
  • Mussorgsky/Wilbrandt, Exhibitionistic Echoes (from Pictures at an Exhibition). A reworking for acoustic instruments and electronic delays Modern Sinfonietta. Decca 436 717 (1993)
  • Thomas Wilbrandt, Mono Tones – 12 Studies in Silence, for one and two pianos. Decca 440 228 (1993)
  • The Electric V. The Four Seasons Variations (Film c. 92 mins). Created, filmed, produced, and directed by Thomas Wilbrandt. Decca/Universal (1990) LD-Video 071 117


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