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Werner, Sven Erik


(b Copenhagen, 21 Feb 1937). Danish composer and teacher. After completing studies in Danish and music at Copenhagen University in 1964, he worked until 1970 as programme secretary at Danish Radio. As a composer he was a late starter and essentially self-taught: he had one of his first compositions, the wind quintet Jubilus, accepted for performance at the 1968 Palermo festival. He was principal of the Fyn Conservatory in Odense between 1974 and 1989, during which period he founded the organization Funen Young Musicians (1982), and briefly, together with Poul Nielsen, edited the Dansk Musiktidsskrift (1972–4). He also served as a member of the National Music Council (1983–91), and from 1992 as chairman of the state-sponsored record company DaCapo.

Werner’s extensive involvement in administration and in Danish cultural and musical debate has limited the volume of his production. His output nonetheless contains many substantial and personal works. While the most prominent influences on his music are those of Stockhausen and the Polish avant garde, Lutosławski especially, his works incorporate a variety of stylistic elements, and cover a wide range of genres. He has written works for both television (Cancer, 1970, and Formynderne, 1973–80) and the stage (Den Hellige Kommunion, 1972–3), as well as a number of educational works, such as the Twelve Tango Studies (1991–3) for accordion. Elements of Messiaen’s compositional techniques are found in Tie-Break (1984) for accordion ensemble and the choral work Hommage à Bruckner (1984), while Dramma giocoso (1982) pays homage to Mozart’s Don Giovanni.


WORKS


(selective list)

Ops: Cancer (TV op, after A. Solzhenitzyn: Cancer Ward), 1970; Den Hellige Kommunion (chbr op, F. Arrabal), 1972–3, Copenhagen, Comediehuset, 29 Sept 1973; Formynderne [The Totalitarians] (TV op, after V. Sørensen), 1973–80, Dan. TV, 9 Dec 1980; Det hemmelige aegteskab [The Secret Marriage] (chbr op), 1994, Skagen, Museum, 3 Aug 1994 [arr. of D. Cimarosa: Il matrimonio segreto]

Orch: Ground, fl, orch, 1975–80; Flick-Story, 23 wind, 2 pf/hp, perc, 1976; Vc Conc., 1979–80; Sjaellandske afgrunde [The Abysses of Zealand], 1980–81; Windfall, tuba, orch, 1993

Choral: Conditiones, double chorus, 1968–9; Epluchure III (G. Apollinaire), 16-pt mixed chorus, org, 1972; Fynsk salme [Fyn Psalm] (T. Kingo), Bar, mixed chorus, orch, 1981–2; Hommage à Bruckner (Lat. texts), mixed chorus, 1984

Chbr and solo inst: Jubilus, wind qnt, 1968; Various, pf, 1981; Dramma giocoso, fl, 1982; Triplum, ob, cl, bn, 1982–3; Tie-Break, 6 accdn, 1984; Passionsfrugter [Passion Fruits], wind qnt, 1987; 12 Tango Studies, accdn, 1991–3

Solo vocal: 2 tekster (H.M. Enzenberger), S, accdn, elec gui, perc, 1969; Cherche la femme, S (live/tape), tuba, 1974; Monumenter (P. Mouritzen), Mez/A, pf, 1974; Cantio sacra (Bible: Ecclesiastes, B, ob, org, 1977

Principal publishers: Samfundet til Udgivelse af Dansk Musik, Hansen

WRITINGS


‘Cancer: et forsøg med billeder’ [Cancer: an experiment with pictures], DMt, xlvi (1971), 37–8

‘Notat om ny kompositionsmusik’, DMt, lix (1984–5), 336–40

‘ … efter postmodernism? Hvordan opfatter nordiske komponister deres placering i musikhistorisk sammenhaeng?’ [ … after postmodernism? How do Nordic composers see their position in the context of musical history?], DMt, lxiii (1988–9), 100–01

‘Mellem Auschwitz og Venedig: Hommage à Witold Lutosławski (1913–94)’, DMt, lxix (1994–5), 74–83

ERIK H.A. JAKOBSEN

Wernick, Richard


(b Boston, 16 Jan 1934). American composer. He studied at Brandeis University, where his composition teachers included Irving Fine, Harold Shapero and Arthur Berger, at Mills College (MA 1957) with Leon Kirchner, among others, and at Tanglewood with Ernst Toch, Boris Blacher and Aaron Copland. He also studied conducting with Leonard Bernstein and Seymour Lipkin. During the 1950s he worked as an incidental, film and television music composer. He went on to teach at SUNY, Buffalo, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania (1968–96). As musical director of the Penn Contemporary Players and other ensembles, he has directed numerous performances of new music, including many world premières. He has also served as contemporary music consultant for the Philadelphia Orchestra (1983–9) and as special consultant to music director Riccardo Muti. His honours include the Pulitzer Prize (1977), two Kennedy Center Friedheim first prizes, awards from the Ford, Guggenheim and Naumburg foundations, and commissions from Rostropovich and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.

Wernick’s formative years were dominated by the pluralistic attitude of the 1960s. He has remarked, ‘I occasionally find 12-tone rows that have interesting characteristics and I work out all their permutations’, but has defined his general attitude as chordal-harmonic. His extensive output is dominated by large-scale works that reflect the influence of late Romantic forms and textures. His six string quartets adopt intensive quasi-Baroque contrapuntal devices, including cantus firmus techniques (String Quartet no.1, 1963) and elaborate fugatos (String Quartet no.5, second movement, 1996). His choice of texts for vocal and programmatic works has been guided by ideological messages. The Kaddish Requiem (1971), in memory of the victims of the Vietnam War, combines traditional mourning texts of Jewish and Christian services. Visions of Terror and Wonder (1978) alternates between verses from the Hebrew Bible, the Qu’ran and the New Testament, all of which call for peace. In the Viola Concerto (1986), Dylan Thomas’s verse Do not go gentle into that good night leads a rhythmically energetic concerto grosso texture into an ethereal slow movement that ends with an allusion to the children's rhyme This old man.

Wernick’s style has been described as tonally referential, but based on fixed intervallic cells; a frequent reiteration of motivic-harmonic gestures is characteristic in works such as the Violin Concerto (1981–2) and the Second Symphony (1995). The piano sonata Reflections of a Dark Light (1982) is based on a limited harmonic vocabulary initially presented as a set of four chords built of minor 6ths and minor 3rds. His frequent cooperation with performers such as Jan de Gaetani, Lambert Orkis and Gregory Fulkerson has led to highly idiomatic compositions for the voice, piano and violin.

WORKS


(selective list)

Vocal: A Prayer for Jerusalem, Mez, perc, 1971; Kaddish Requeim (trad.), Mez, fl + pic, cl + b cl, vn, vc + sitar, 2 perc, pf, tape, 1971; Contemplations of the Tenth Muse, I–II, S (1977–9); Visions of Terror and Wonder (Bible, Qu’ran), Mez, orch, 1978; A Poison Tree (W. Blake), S, fl, cl, vn, vc, (1980); The Oracle of Shimon Bar Yochai (Gates of Prayer), S, vc, pf, 1983; Oracle no.2 (The Rabbi of Kotzk) (quoted in C. Potok: The Promise), S, ob, pf, 1985; … and a time for peace, Mez, orch, 1994–5; Sym. no.2, S, orch, 1995; Str Qt no.5 (H. Senesh), S, str qt, 1996

Orch: Vn Conc., 1981–2; Va Conc. ‘Do not go gentle …’, 1986 [after D. Thomas]; Sym. no.1, 1988; Pf Conc., 1989–90; Conc., sax qt, orch, 1991; Vc Conc., 1992; see also vocal

Chbr and solo inst: Str Qt no.1, 1963; Cadenzas and Variations II, vn, (1970); Cadenzas and Variations III, vc (1972); Str Qt no.3, 1972–3; Introits and Canons, ens, 1977, rev. 1981; Conc., vc, 10 insts, (1980); In Praise of Zephyrus, ob, str trio (1981); Sonata ‘Portraits of Antiquity’, vc, pf, (1982); Reflections of a Dark Light, sonata, pf, (1982); Musica ptolemeica, brass qnt, (1987); Str Qt no.4, 1988; Str Qt no.2, 1990; Cassation, ob, hn, pf, (1995); Pf Trio (1996); Str Qt no.6, 1998; see also vocal

recorded interviews in US-NHoh

Principal publisher: Presser

BIBLIOGRAPHY


M.A. Rose: Unity in Diversity: the Synthesis of Compositional Approaches in Richard Wernick's Visions of Terror and Wonder (diss., Eastman School of Music, 1985)

JEHOASH HIRSHBERG




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