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Talking with statues: language, memory and history in Hans Zender’s ‘composed interpretations’

Tuesday 18 January 2022, 4.00PM to 5:30 PM

Speaker(s): Dr Mark Hutchinson

The music of the Austrian composer Hans Zender (1936–2019) is notable for its creative exploration of issues of timbre, temporality and communication. These concerns are reflected especially in the series of ‘composed interpretations’ (komponierte Interpretationen) he produced between 1982 and 2011. In these works, Zender blurred the boundary between transcription, recomposition and commentary, taking canonic compositions by Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann and subjecting them to layers of modernist distortion and transformation. Yet his stated goal was not so much to critique the past or lament it nostalgically, but to establish a creative dialogue with it. Building on the ideas of his mentor Berndt Alois Zimmermann, Zender outlined his desire to revisit the central technical and aesthetic innovations of the originals in a fresh light, to recover some of the eccentricities or idiosyncrasies contemporary audiences may have heard in them, and to challenge the monolithic interpretations of musical history that have sometimes been built around them. In this paper, I’ll look at how these issues play out in Zender’s reworkings of Schubert’s Winterreise (1993) and Beethoven’s ‘Diabelli’ Variations (2011).

Mark Hutchinson is a Lecturer in Music at the University of York, where he is a member of the Contemporary Music Research Centre. His research focusses upon creative approaches towards the analysis of recent contemporary music. His book Coherence in New Music: Experience, Aesthetics, Analysis (Ashgate, 2016) uses ideas from a variety of different disciplines to argue for a novel concept of coherence within recent classical music. He has published articles examining overlaps between music, literature and philosophy in works by Henri Dutilleux, Tōru Takemitsu and Georg Friedrich Haas. He is also active as a piano accompanist and oboist.

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Meeting ID: 974 1147 1887

Passcode: 030134

Location: Zoom, or in-person in Room D003 (Sally Baldwin Buildings, D Block)