Dieter Schnebel (14 March 1930 - 20 May 2018) was a German composer, theologian and musicologist. He composed orchestral music, chamber music, vocal music and stage works. From 1976 until his retirement in 1995, Schnebel served as professor of experimental music at the Berlin Hochschule der Künste.
Schnebel was born in Lahr/Baden. He began general private music studies with Wilhelm Siebler from 1942 until 1945, when he started piano lessons with Wilhelm Resch, and continued study with him until 1949 at the age of 19 (Herman 2017).
He continued with music history through 1952, under Eric Doflein (Attinello 2001). Simultaneously he began to study composition, from 1950, with Ernst Krenek, Theodor W. Adorno and Pierre Boulez, among others. He entered formal studies at the University of Tübingen, where he took musicology with Walter Gerstenberg, as well as theology, philosophy and further piano studies (Zimmerlin 2018). In 1955, he left with a degree in theology (Herman 2017), but with a dissertation about Arnold Schoenberg (Anon. 2018b). Soon after, he married Camilla Riegger in 1956, and the couple had a son and daughter. Schnebel became a minister, and taught theology and religion until 1963, when he began teaching philosophy and psychology (Anon. 2018b) After his first wife died he underwent a period of psychoanalysis. In 1970 he married Iris von Kaschnitz (Anon. 2018b), and began teaching religious studies and music in Munich, which he continued until 1976 (Attinello 2001). In 1976, he began teaching in Berlin as a professor of experimental music and music research, a chair created for him. He held it until his retirement in 1995 (Anon. 2018b; Anon. & n.d.(b)).
Invited by Walter Fink, he was the sixth composer featured in the annual Komponistenporträt of the Rheingau Musik Festival in 1996, where his Schau-Stücke for voices and gestures premiered (Schnebel 1997).
Schnebel died of a heart ailment in Berlin on 20 May 2018 at the age of 88 (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2018).
Cycles and style
Schnebel composed several cycles of works, sometimes over a long time (Anon. 2018b). One of them was called Versuche (Essays), consisting of four works written 1953 to 1956. They concern serial techniques, exploring space by placing performers at separate positions. His religious music includes a cycle Für Stimmen (...missa est) (For voices ...), consisting of four works written 1956 to 1969). They use the human voice and organ in experimental settings of prayers and biblical texts. A cycle Produktionsprozesse is a group of compositions related to "language and body" which concerns the physical sound production, with the performers utilizing speech and breathing organs in unusual ways (Göbel 2018; Zimmerlin 2018).
His earliest works were strongly influenced by his fellow Darmstadt students Karlheinz Stockhausen, about whose early works he wrote an extended essay, and Mauricio Kagel, about whom he edited a book. Starting in 1959, he also came under the influence of John Cage (Clements 1992; Schell 2018; Zimmerlin 2018).
Schnebel made arrangements of works by Bach, Beethoven, Webern and Wagner, called Re-Visions, sometimes using their traditional concepts to reflect new techniques and different ways of looking at them (Zimmerlin 2018).
Schnebel's awards include the Arts Prize of Lahr in 1991. He received the first European Church Music Prize in Schwäbisch Gmünd the same year. He was a member of the Berlin Akademie der Künste from 1991, and of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste since 1996 (Anon. 2018b).
Schnebel's works are held by the German National Library (Anon. & n.d.(a)). Many of them are published by Schott Music (Schott 2018).
Music with orchestra
- Compositio (1955-56, rev. 1964/1965)
- Orchestra / Symphonische Musik für mobile Musiker (1974-1977)
- Canones (1975-1977; 1993/1994)
- Schubert-Phantasie (Re-Visionen I5, for divided orchestra and voices (1978, rev. 1989 as Blendwerk, for string orchestra)
- Thanatos-Eros (Traditione III1), symphonic variations for large orchestra (1979-82, rev.1984-85)
- Sinfonie-Stücke (Traditione III2) (1984-85)
- Missa, Dahlem Mass for four solo voices, two mixed choirs, orchestra and organ (1984-1987) (Anon. & n.d.(a))
- Mahler-Moment, for strings (1985)
- Sinfonie X (Tradition VI) (1987-1992; 2004/2005)
- Mozart-Moment (1988/1989)
- Schumann-Moment (Re-Visionen II2, for voices, winds, harp, and percussion (1989) (Attinello 2001)
- Verdi-Moment (Re-Visionen II5, for orchestra (1989) (Attinello 2001)
- St. Jago (Tradition IV2, 3 speakers, 4 singers, and ensemble: music and images to Heinrich von Kleist (1989-1991) (Attinello 2001) (rev. 1995)
- Janá?ek-Moment (Re-Visionen II1), for orchestra (1991) (Attinello 2001)
- Totentanz, ballet-oratorio for two speakers, soprano, bass, choir, orchestra and live electronic (1992-1994)
- inter, for chamber orchestra (1994)
- O Liebe! - süßer Tod..., five sacred songs after Johann Sebastian Bach for mezzo-soprano, chamber choir, and small orchestra (1995)
- Ekstasis for soprano, speaker, two children's voices, percussion, choir and large orchestra (1996/1997; 2001/2002)
- Analysis, for strings and percussion (1953) (Attinello 2001)
- Stücke, for string quartet or string octet (1954-55) (Attinello 2001)
- Fragment, for chamber ensemble and voice obligato (1955) (Attinello 2001)
- Das Urteil after Franz Kafka, Raummusik für Instrumente, Stimmen und sonstige Schallquellen (Space music for instruments, voices and other sound sources) (1959, rev. 1990)
- Glossolalie (1959-61), instructions for composition (Attinello 2001)
- Maulwerke (1968-74) (Attinello 2001); staged in 1977 by Achim Freyer at the Musiktheaterwerkstatt Wiesbaden Version 2010
- Körpersprache / Organkomposition (Body Language / Organ Composition), for 3-9 players (1979/1980)
- Memento, for voice and accordion (1981)
- Montiano-Song, for one or more voices and instruments (1983)
- Beethoven-Symphonie (Re-Visionen I2), for chamber ensemble (1985)
- Metamorphosenmusik, for voice and chamber ensemble (1986/1987)
- Metamorphosen des Ovid or Die Bewegung von den Rändern zur Mitte hin und umgekehrt, incidental music for 11 voices and 11 strings (1986-87) (Attinello 2001)
- Mit diesen Händen, for voice and cello with curved bow (1992) (Schnebel n.d.)
- Baumzucht (J. P. Hebel), musical reading after Johann Peter Hebel for speaker and chamber ensemble (1992/1995)
- Schau-Stücke (Body Études) (1995) (Schnebel 1997)
- Magnificat (1996/97) (Akademie 2015)
- String Quartet No. 2 (2000-2007)
- Flipper, chamber music for Spielautomaten, actors, instruments and tape (2002/2003)
- String Quartet No. 3 "Im Raum" (2005-2006)
- Drei Kafka-Dramolette, Der plötzliche Spaziergang, Entschlüsse and Gib's auf! (2009) (Anon. 2010)
- für stimmen (... missa est): dt 31,6, for 12 vocal ensembles (1956-58; arranged for large chorus, 1965) (Attinello 2001)
- AMN, for seven vocal ensembles (1958-67) (Attinello 2001)
- :! (madrasha 2), for three choruses, with tape ad lib. (1958-68) (Attinello 2001)
- Maulwerke, for amplified voices and electronics (1968-74) (Attinello 2001)
- Körper-Sprache, for 3-9 performers (1979-80) (Attinello 2001)
- Bach-Contrapuncti (I, VI, XI) (Re-Visionen I1, for voices (1972-76); revised as O Liebe! - süsser Tod (1984-95) (Attinello 2001)
- Motetus I, for two choruses (1989-93) (Attinello 2001)
- "Mein Herz ruht müde", for alto voice and piano (1994) (Attinello 2001)
- Motetus II, for two choruses (1997-98) (Attinello 2001)
- Behütet ... : Psalm 121, for chorus (SSMezAATTBarBB), with organ or synthesizer ad lib. (2012) (Anon. & n.d.(a))
- Anon. "Compositions by Dieter Schnebel". German National Library. Retrieved 2018.
- Anon. "Dieter Schnebel". Akademie der Künste (2015; accessed 21 May 2018).
- Anon. "Dieter Schnebel", Bayerisches Musiker-Lexikon Online. Munich: Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, n.d. (accessed 22 May 2018). (in German)
- Anon. "Komponist Dieter Schnebel gestorben". Deutschlandfunk.de (20 May 2018; accessed 21 May 2018).
- Anon. "Melancholie der Pneumatik, auf minimalistische Schrittfolgen reduziert". Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (24 January 2010).
- Anon. "Nachruf: Deutscher Komponist Dieter Schnebel gestorben" (in German). Kleine Zeitung (21 May 2018). Retrieved 2018.
- Attinello, Paul. "Schnebel, Dieter (Wolfgang)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, 29 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001.
- Clements, Andrew. "Schnebel, Dieter". The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 4 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1992.
- Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Mit 88 Jahren: Komponist Dieter Schnebel gestorben. svz.de (2018; accessed 21 May 2018).
- Göbel, Andreas. "Zum Tod des Komponisten Dieter Schnebel: Neugierig auf ungehörte Töne".Deutschlandfunk (2018; accessed 22 May 2018).
- Herman, Michael. "German and Austrian Symphonies / From The 19th Century To The Present" (PDF). musicweb-international.com, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
- Pöllmann, Rainer, and Achim Freyer. "Zum Tod von Dieter Schnebel Ein radikaler Avantgardist". Deutschlandfunk Kultur (20 May 2018; accessed 25 May 2018). (in German)
- Schell, Michael. "Dieter Schnebel (1930-2018): Radical Reverential Music". Second Inversion (July 11, 2018).
- Schnebel, Dieter. "Schau-Stücke". Schott Music, 1997. Retrieved 2018.
- Schnebel, Dieter. "Mit diesen Händen / With These Hands". Stuttgart and Wissembourg: Bach-Bogen.de (n.d.; accessed 21 May 2018).
- Schott Music. "Dieter Schnebel: Works". Schott Music website (accessed 22 May 2018).
- Zimmerlin, Michael (2018). "Komponist Dieter Schnebel ist gestorben: Ein Experimentator, der keine Grenzen scheute". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 2018.
- Gligo, Nik?a. "Schrift ist Musik? Ein Beitrag zur Aktualisierung eines nur anscheinend veralteten Widerspruchs". International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 18 (1987), 1, pp. 145-162 (part 1); 19 (1988), 1, pp. 75-115 (part 2) (includes an analysis of Schnebel's project MO-NO: Musik zum Lesen)
- Stolba, K. Marie. The Development of Western Music: A History. Boston: McGraw Hill, 1998.
- Warnaby, John. "Dieter Schnebel and His Sinfonie X". Tempo, New Ser., No. 186 (September 1993), pp. 26-31.