Superscriptio 2. Intermedio 4. They may be performed individually or as a cycle in the above order. The first complete performance of the cycle was given on 17 October at Donaueschinger Musiktage. These eleven works form Umbrations. Goldsmiths College, University of London awarded him an honorary doctorate in In he was made Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Most recently, he has been awarded the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize for A BBC Total Immersion event was dedicated to the composer in , and his 70th birthday in has given rise to a number of celebrations.
Ferneyhough's output is remarkable as much for its rigorous reflection on the nature and deployment of musical material as for the diversity of its influences and references: philosophy, certainly, as well as literature and painting; but also science fiction, alchemy, and mysticism. This more speculative facet of Ferneyhough's inspiration is sometimes lost sight of, but it is evident as early as Transit for large ensemble and voices, and as recently as the opera Shadowtime , , whose overtly philosophical bent is deliberately undermined by equally strong impulses in the direction of irrationality and transcendentalism.
An abiding concern with transcendence is at the heart of Ferneyhough's music, and helps explain those aspects that are often regarded as wilfully difficult and impenetrable. Electronic Folk International. Jazz Latin New Age. Aggressive Bittersweet Druggy. Energetic Happy Hypnotic.
Romantic Sad Sentimental. Revolution Some Measure Out. Other composers have taken this particular technique much further than I in the meantime, with the result that the Law of Diminishing Returns has begun to apply. Result Law Than Taken. When I left Europe in I did so with the thought that my relevance as a composition teacher would benefit from a certain cool distance to certain tendencies I had been observing for several years with increasing disquiet.
Teacher Cool Distance Thought. Sometimes one can be so closely involved with things that the larger context is lost to view. View Sometimes Lost Things. Certainly being in California has encouraged a sustained commitment to rethinking the nature, purposes, and relevance of the contemporary arts, specifically music, for a society which by and large seems to manage quite well without them.
Nature Music Society Commitment. Naturally enough, I couldn't have foreseen the vast sea change which has come upon that scene as a result of German reunification and associated events. Sea Change Result Enough. I suppose that the scope and implications of such forces have rendered my personal accounting ritual pretty much obsolete.
If you talk to the players who most often play Ferneyhough, they all say that his notation has to be the way it is to achieve the results he wants in performance, even if there's a vanishingly tiny possibility of all that information being communicated to the listener. What we're getting as listeners is a trace of the score the performer is playing from, which is in turn only a trace of the musical work that Ferneyhough has imagined.
And yet, because of the ferocity of concentration on the part of the musician, and because of the range and imagination of what you hear, what you actually get when you hear a performance of his music is something definitive, direct and undeniable — a sheer thrill of musical extremity. If you heard the BBC Symphony Orchestra's revelatory performance of La Terre Est un Homme last February at the Barbican in London, you can't have escaped the elemental power of this music, one of the most significant achievements in late 20th-century orchestral writing, yet hardly known until that concert.
And it must be issued on CD soon, if there's a record company reading this! All of that is a sort of gigantic upbeat to your own exploration of Ferneyhough's music. Get stuck into his works for solo instruments or chamber ensemble. Try the Carceri d'Invenzione pieces , or one of my favourites, Terrain , a kind of uber-violin concerto.
Oh, and Ferneyhough has also written one of the most important canons of string quartets in the entire literature , six of them so far. One last thing: just what is it that Ferneyhough's music has to tell us about the entire literature of western classical music? Well: that it's all essentially unknowable — it is as difficult to answer the question of what Beethoven's Fifth Symphony really is as what Lemma-Icon-Epigram might be, if you think about it for a second — and essentially experiential, revealed in all of its elusive but definitive power through the evanescent illumination of performance.
In that fundamental sense, Ferneyhough's music is no more and no less complex than any other classical music. I was quite put off by them when I first listened to this disc in or so. Though they have grown on me, the Third quartet still wears me out. Both were premiered by the Arditti Quartet, and the Ardittis have continued their close relationship with Ferneyhough until today. The liner notes offer little in the way of explanation -- the listener must simply strap in and enjoy the ride!
But it is the only recording of these crucial string quartets, among the most important of the late 20th century, so in that respect it is essential! Brian Ferneyhough is one of the rare, late 20th-century ultramodernist composers to exhibit a sustained interest in the string quartet. Like Elliott Carter, Ferneyhough's quartets seem to mark important milestones in the composer's career.
The Sonatas, evidently inspired by Purcell, mark Ferneyhough's early compositional efforts. Laid alongside the later quartets I can't help but hear these as juvenilia. Well, extremely accomplished juvenilia. The second Quartet is phenomenal and is a concise statement of Ferneyhough's compositional interests.
Here he is forcefully directing our attention to small, intricate details but never loses control of the formal structure. The way the instruments synchronize and are subsequently blown apart give important -- although fleeting -- moments of focus in an otherwise overwhelming world of sound. The sustained tension and anxiety of the quiet ending is chilling.
The third Quartet is much more formally fragmented and juxtaposes many different kinds of music right next to each other.Enjoy the best Brian Ferneyhough Quotes at BrainyQuote. Quotations by Brian Ferneyhough, British Composer, Born January 16, Share with your friends.