He is not yet 40 years old but is probably one of the most performed composers of his generation: Jörg Widmann, born in 1973, is currently to be heard in almost every concert hall and opera house in Germany: Over the summer, his works were performed at various festivals; at the end of October, the National Theatre in Munich is producing his latest opera Babylon, to a libretto by the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk; at the beginning of the season the Alte Oper Frankfurt dedicated a portrait of the artist and a symposium to him as part of its pre-season festival – and the Berliner Philharmoniker began the new concert season with a Widmann highlight: In September they performed the European premiere of Flûte en suite with Emmanuel Pahud as the soloist. The Berliner Zeitung wrote how Widmann managed to both entrance a large audience with his distant dreams, and entice them into a state of care-free elation
Jörg Widmann, who grew up in Unterhaching, a town near Munich, has been composing since he was eleven years old. After first studying with Kai Westermann, he continued his training with Wilfried Hiller, Hans Werner Henze, Heiner Goebbels and Wolfgang Rihm. Composing is, however, not his only profession. The artist, who trained with Gerd Starke and Charles Neidlich, has also enjoyed great success as a clarinettist. Of course, he has also written a number of works for his instrument, but that is not his most pressing concern. “We clarinettists have already been blessed with the most wonderful repertoire imaginable – from Mozart, Brahms and Schubert, of all people,” he admitted in a recent interview. This dual talent is reflected in his teaching: Jörg Widmann has taught clarinet (since 2001) and composition (since 2009) at the University of Music Freiburg.
The name of Jörg Widmann first appeared in the orchestra’s concert programmes in 2005: At that time, the Scharoun Ensemble played his octet for clarinet, horn, bassoon and string quintet. Just one year after, Widmann, as winner of the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize, was commissioned to compose a work for the Orchestra Academy: the quintet for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano, which was premiered in February 2007. In May 2009, as part of the Abbado gala, Widmann’s Teiresias for six double basses was performed. This season, there are also symphonic works by the composer to be heard: Following Flûte en suite, the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Andris Nelsons present Widmann’s 2007 Violin Concerto on 24, 25 and 26 October 2012. The soloist is the violinist Christian Tetzlaff. Just days later, on 4 November, the Signum Quartet play another of the composer’s chamber works: the Choralquartett composed in 2003 as a kind of artistic “response” to Joseph Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour On the Cross.