Compositions
Compositions

Gender Strongholds in Orchestras

There are 129 professional orchestras in Germany. According to a recent survey conducted by the Deutsches Musikinformationszentrum, most of the orchestras have significant gender imbalances among their employees, which vary strongly depending on the instrument, rank, and income level. The largest disparities appear in the tuba section (98.1% male) and harp section (93.7% female). To raise awareness of this issue, I am considering to compose a duo for a female tuba player and a male harpist in which both performers are also required to sing while playing. The piece is envisaged to incorporate a musical reference to Josquin Desprez, commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death. Anybody interested in receiving the dedication?

Triadic Transformations

I made a short analysis video on Carlo Gesualdo‘s Miserere from his Responsories for Holy Saturday. The chord progressions at the beginning, enriching modal harmony with chromaticised voice-leading, can be regarded as transformations according to Neo-Riemannian theory, and made visible as triadic relations in an Eulerian Tonnetz. This is a rather simple yet fascinating example that suited me well for a first approach to teaching transformational theory.

Also, for those of you who are interested in my compositions, there are some new recordings available on SoundCloud: a folk song duet from my Lyric Diptych for two voices and piano, and two excerpts from the suite At the Forest Verge for guitar and marimba duo.

 

Aria and Fughetta after Bach

During the last days I made a three-part keyboard arrangement of the final aria Drum schließ ich mich in deine Hände from Johann Sebastian Bach’s motet Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229. This aria is one of my all-time favourite chorale settings: It features cadences in no less than five different scale degrees and culminates in a marvellously ornated concluding melisma. The Baroque lyrics by Paul Thymich figure as a deeply touching embodiment of poetic devotion to the creator in the face of death—and this is why I chose to perform the music at my grandmother’s funeral earlier this week. Subsequently, I replenished the composition with a brief fughetta on the subject of the aria’s first line. Hope you won’t mind the sad occasion of its genesis and enjoy the piece anyway.

 

Freshly out: Sonata elettrica

One of the most fortunate moves in my activity as a composer was to make my sheet music freely available on the internet. Numerous performances and recordings resulted from that decision, simply because performers or conductors looking for new repertoire are likely to browse IMSLP and other websites for a particular genre or combination of instruments. While I hesitate to encourage fellow composers to do the same since I realise there might be reasons not to upload one’s music for free, this is what works out fine for me. On that note, I invite you to have a look at my latest composition, Sonata elettrica for amplified guitar and piano, the typesetting of which I have just completed. It is a virtuoso showpiece in a somewhat uncommon instrumentation, calling for a classically-trained electric guitarist who takes joy in some adventurous duo musicking. Thanks go to Siamak Sattari who expertly helped me elaborate the guitar part.

wendelinbitzan_sonataelettrica

 

 

Composing with Students

My participation in the music theatre education project YOUR_Street.Scene at Magdeburg Theatre has come to a successful conclusion. It was fun to supervise the creative process which resulted in a collaborative composition by a number of students of International School Pierre Trudeau in Barleben. We ended up with a four-minute score for six instruments, originally intended as an overture for an outdoor scenario in loose reference to Kurt Weill’s opera Street Scene. Due to the current circumstances we were unable to present a live performance of the music. Instead, two video trailers have been produced as a documentation of the musical and choreographic work.