Translated by Kenneth Chalmers
“No Artist Works at a Distance from Humanity” –In Praise of Wolfgang Rihm
167 “No Artist Works at a Distance from Humanity” – In Praise of Wolfgang Rihm Wolfgang Rihm has frequently spoken in praise of his fellow composers, but once declared that praise often amounts to arrogance – a statement that makes me nervous – so I would like to start by stating that my intention is to do no more than present a few personal thoughts on his music. It has rightly been said that artistic creativity is surrounded by mystery. If it does obey any laws, these remain to be discovered and explored. Stefan Zweig laid great emphasis on the fact that creativity was “a permanent struggle be- tween the unconscious and the conscious” and that the formula for the artistic process itself was “inspiration plus perspiration”.1 Among contemporary composers, Wolfgang Rihm is one of the most ver- satile and productive, if not the most productive. For forty years he has pro- duced work after work, and his well of invention seems inexhaustible. His out- put runs to more than two hundred works in almost every genre: music theatre, orchestral, chamber and vocal music, and recently “sacred” music as well. One particularly strong characteristic seems to be a boundless desire for freedom and independence. He studied for a while with Stockhausen, with whom he was on friendly terms, as he has been with Boulez and Helmut Lachenmann, and Luigi Nono was one of his mentors. Yet while he has engaged with the music of all these composers, he has always remained himself....
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