Volker David Kirchner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Volker David Kirchner
Born (1942-06-25) 25 June 1942 (age 76)
Mainz, Germany
  • Violist
  • Chamber musician
  • Composer

Volker David Kirchner (born 25 June 1942) is a German composer and violist. After studies of violin and composition at the Peter Cornelius Conservatory, the Hochschule für Musik Köln and the Hochschule für Musik Detmold, he worked for decades as a violist in the hr-Sinfonieorchester in Frankfurt, and for two years as a composer of incidental music at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden. He is known for his operas which have been commissioned by major German opera houses, but has also composed symphonies, concertos, chamber music and keyboard music. His operas often focus on historic personalities such as Savonarola and Gutenberg.


Born in Mainz, Kirchner took his first violin lessons with his grandfather.[1] He studied at the Peter Cornelius Conservatory in Mainz from 1956 to 1969, violin with Günter Kehr [de] and composition with Günter Raphael. On a recommendation by Kehr, he then studied at the Hochschule für Musik Köln from 1959 to 1963, where he was influenced by composers Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez.[1] Kirchner completed his studies with Tibor Varga at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold from 1964 to 1965.[2] Kirchner played in jazz ensembles in Cologne, and was violist in the chamber orchestra Rheinisches Kammerorchester Köln.[3] He was violist of the hr-Sinfonieorchester in Frankfurt from 1966 to 1988.[2] As a chamber musician, he co-founded in 1970 the Ensemble 70 in Wiesbaden. He played viola in the Kehr-Trio, with his teacher as the violinist and cellist Bernhard Braunholz, touring in South America, North Africa and the Near East.[3] From 1972 to 1974, he was also a composer for the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden from 1972 to 1974, writing incidental music.[2] It prepared his composition for the stage, with a focus on the text, which became decicive for his own operas.[1]

He became known when his first opera was premiered in 1975, Die Trauung (The Wedding), after Witold Gombrowicz's The Marriage. It was played on 27 April 1975 at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, conducted by Siegfried Köhler. Kirchner was then commissioned to write more stage works. During the 1980s, Generalmusikdirektor Siegfried Köhler promoted his operas in Wiesbaden,[4] conducting in 1981 Das kalte Herz (The cold heart) after a fairy-tale by Wilhelm Hauff, revised in 1987 for a performance on 27 October 1988 at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich. Kirchner's Die fünf Minuten des Isaak Babel (The five minutes of Isaac Babel), subtitled A Scenic Requiem, premiered on 19 April 1980 at the Opernhaus Wuppertal, conducted by Hanns-Martin Schneidt and staged by Friedrich Meyer-Oertel.[5] Belshazar premiered in 1985 at the Bavarian State Opera, and Gilgamesch, premiered at the Expo 2000 in Hanover.[1] His Violin Concerto was first performed in the Berliner Philharmonie in 1984, and his Requiem Messa di pace received its first performance in Moscow 1990 for the opening of a festival.[1][4] Musicians such as violinists Ulf Hoelscher and Christian Tetzlaff, violist Tabea Zimmermann, cellists Yo Yo Ma, Wolfgang Boettcher [de] and Martin Ostertag [de], and pianists Lars Vogt and Nina Tichmann [de] played his music, in collaboration with conductors such as Gerd Albrecht, Leif Segerstam and Eliahu Inbal.[1]

Kirchner moved to Mainz and became a freelance composer in 1988.[6] Invited by Walter Fink, he was the third composer featured in the annual Komponistenporträt of the Rheingau Musik Festival in 1992.[7] In 1997, the Kleines Haus of the Staatstheater Mainz opened with his Labyrinthos.[4] In 2010, he was one of five living composers whose music celebrated the 80th birthday of Walter Fink in a concert of the Rheingau Musik Festival, writing Nachlese for piano.[8]


His compositions have included solo pieces, string quartets, symphonies and solo concertos, culminating in works for the stage.[1] His operas have often a political background. Isaak Babel, a 1980 work, shows a personality facing the Russian Revolution, Savonarola, a 2011 opera, deals with the short reign of a religious fanatic, Gutenberg, written in 2012, shows the genius from Mainz who had difficulties introducing his invention. Kirchner composed the mass Missa Moguntina in 1993 especially for the Mainz Cathedral, reflecting his roots.[1] The text is the Latin mass expanded by Psalm 130, "De profundis", and Kirchner studied the acoustics of the cathedral.[9]


  • Riten, for small sound theatre, premiered in 1971 in Graz, Steierischer Herbst, afterwards at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden
  • Die Trauung (The Wedding) (1974) after Witold Gombrowicz, premiered 27 April 1975, Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden
  • Die fünf Minuten des Isaak Babel, Szenisches Requiem in zwölf Bildern (1977–79), premiered 19 April 1980 at the Opernhaus Wuppertal
  • Das kalte Herz after Wilhelm Hauff (1980), premiered 1981 in Wiesbaden, revised in 1987 for a performance on 27 October 1988 at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz
  • Belshazar (1986); commissioned by the Bayerische Staatsoper, premiered on 25 January 1985
  • Erinys, Threnos in two parts after the Oresteia by Aeschylos (1986–89), premiered on 15 April 1990 in Wuppertal
  • Inferno d'amore (Shakespearion I) after Shakespeare and Michelangelo (1992), staged premiere on 12 March 1995, Ballhof by Niedersächsisches Staatstheater
  • Labyrinthos (Shakespearion II) (1994/95), premiered 17 October 1997 in Mainz for the opening of the Kleinen Hauses of the Staatstheater Mainz
  • Gilgamesh (2002), commissioned by the Niedersächsische Staatsoper on the occasion of the EXPO 2000, premiered on 20 May 2000
  • Ahasver (1998–2000), commissioned by the Theater Bielefeld, premiered in 2001
  • Savonarola, premiered in 2011 at the Opernhaus Kiel)
  • Gutenberg (2011–12), premiered in Erfurt on 24 March 2016
  • Der Prinz von Theben, after Der Prinz von Theben [de] by Lasker-Schüler (2011–13)

Sacred music

  • Requiem – Messa di Pace for soloist, choir and orchestra (1988)
  • Missa Moguntina for soloist, choir, two echo-choirs, orchestra and organ (1993)
  • Aus den 53 Tagen, Passion music for soloists, mixed chorus, male chorus, boys chorus, speaker (Evangelist) and orchestra (1998); commissioned by the "93. Deutscher Katholikentag" in Mainz


  • Choral Variations for 15 solo strings (1967–1968)
  • Bildnisse I for orchestra (1981–1982)
  • Bildnisse II for orchestra (1983–1984)
  • Bildnisse III: Hommage à W. A. Mozart for small orchestra (1989–1991)
  • Symphony No. 2 "Mythen" (1992), premiered in Wiesbaden as part of the Rheingau Musik Festival


  • Nachtstück: Varianten über eine Wagnersche Akkordverbindung (Nocturne: Variations on a Wagnerian Chord Progression) for viola and chamber orchestra (1980–1981, revised 1983)
  • Schibboleth, Poème Concertante for viola and orchestra (1989)
  • Violin Concerto (Homage à Krzysztof Penderecki) (1981–1982)
  • Oboe Concerto (1997–1998)

Chamber music

  • Dybuk for marimba solo (1995)
  • Aus dem Buch der Könige, 3 Meditations for cello solo (2000)
  • Piano Trio (1979)
  • String Quartet [No.1] (1982–1983)
  • Mysterion for altoflute, horn, viola d'amore, cello and piano (1985)
  • Lamento d'Orfeo for horn and piano (1986)
  • Drei Lieder (2 Songs) for medium voice, horn, violin, cello and piano (1985–1986)
  • Und Salomo sprach ... (And Salomo Spoke) for cello solo (1987)
  • Tre poemi (3 Poems) for horn and piano (1986–1987)
  • Der blaue Harlekin (Hommage à Picasso) for flute, clarinet, 2 bassoons (also contrabassoon), 2 trumpets and 2 trombones (1981)
  • Saitenspiel for violin and cello (1993)
  • Gethsemani, Notturno for string sextet (1994)
  • Quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1984)
  • Il canto della notte, Poema for clarinet, horn, piano, violin, viola and cello (1997–1998)
  • Orphischer Gesang II for string sextet (1998)
  • String Trio (2000)
  • String Quartet No. 2 (1999)
  • String Quartet No. 3 (2000)
  • String Quartet No. 4 with obligato clarinet (2000)
  • String Quartet No. 5 (2000, revised 2002)
  • String Quartet No. 6 (2000)
  • "Meine Augen möchte ich erfreuen, Shulamith..." for flute, horn, viola, cello and piano (2001)
  • Pierrots Galgenlieder for clarinet solo (2001)
  • Kreuzweg for 2 oboes and English horn (2001)
  • Pietà, Partita for violin solo (2001)
  • Threnos for solo cello (2006); written for the Feuermann Competition
  • Strophen for 2 clarinets (also bass clarinet) and piano (2007)


  • Piano Sonata (1985–1986)
  • Luces and Sombras, 5 Tangos for piano (1999)
  • Con mortuis in lingua mortua, three pieces for organ (2000)
  • Nachlese for piano (2010); commissioned by Walter Fink for his 80th birthday[7]


Kirchner received a prize of Rhineland-Palatine for young composers in 1974, for his first opera Die Trauung. In 1977, he was awarded the Kunstpreis, in 1992 the Gutenberg Plaque of Mainz.[3] In 1994, Kirchner was the first recipient of the Rheingau Musikpreis of the Rheingau Musik Festival.[10] In 1995, he received the composer's prize of the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung and the Kreissparkasse Hannover, and in 2007, the Peter Cornelius Plaque [de] of Rhineland-Palatine, the highest honour of the state.[2] In 2014, Kirchner was awarded the "Preis für die Verdienste um die MusikKultur" by the Landesmusikrat Rheinland-Pfalz, connected to the premiere of the orchestral composition Der mythische Fluss played by the Landesjugendorchester Rheinland-Pfalz (State youth orchestra of Rhineland-Palatine).[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Stern, Dietrich (24 December 2016). "Berühmte Rheinhessen: Komponist Volker David Kirchner". Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Volker David Kirchner". Schott. 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Volker David Kirchner". klassik-heute.com (in German). 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Stern, Dietrich (24 June 2017). "Komponist Volker David Kirchner wird 75 Jahre alt: Oper „Missa Moguntina" vor dem Mainzer Dom". Main-Spitze (in German). Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Die fünf Minuten des Isaak Babel". Schott. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  6. ^ Schaller, Erica. "Volker David Kirchner". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
  7. ^ a b "Komponistenwerkstatt: Walter Fink zum 80. Geburtstag" (in German). Rheingau Musik Festival. 2010. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  8. ^ Hauff, Andreas (8 September 2010). "Ehrungen und Raritäten. Die Endphase beim Rheingau-Musik-Festival". Neue Musikzeitung. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Missa Moguntina". Schott. 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Rheingau Musik Preis 2017 an Enoch zu Guttenberg und die Chorgemeinschaft Neubeuern" (in German). Rheingau Musik Festival. 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Landesjugendorchester Rheinland-Pfalz spielt Uraufführung von Volker David Kirchner". .musik-heute.de (in German). 4 September 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2018.

External links[edit]