International Festival and Academy for New Composition and Audio-Art

13th – 17th December 2014

avantgarde tirol - new music on a high level


Boguslaw Schaeffer

Boguslaw Schaeffer
Academy 2001 breaking new ground

Art has an obligation towards evolution and innovation. To deny this means stasis, routine, and disinterest in one's work and the concerns of artists and teachers of art. Sliding into a routine, however, is easy and the path to art that one once searched for becomes an asphalt road of slippery repetition.

After having worked for seven years at the academy, right at the end of this century, I have come to the conclusion that education in composition, the broadest field of our course, must expand. My students from Salzburg, Krakow, and Tirol have inspired these thoughts in me: It is very important to occupy oneself with chamber music, however at some time during a young composer's career, a student can really be seized by fear of orchestral composition. It happens very often, too often, that degree dissertations are submitted, which, after all those years of studying, are works of chamber music rather than more extensive works one aspires to hand in order to distinguish oneself from the less talented. And distinction definitely is aspired to. Because of the enormous costs, we cannot have an orchestra at our disposal in Tirol. Besides, it is difficult to imagine that a young composer would be able to write a more extensive piece of music for an orchestra in this short amount of time. The maximum would be a few pages which would translate into one or two minutes, giving nothing to satisfy or delight the spirit. One has to seek a different, a better solution and I think I have found it.

Immediately after the pieces of solo and chamber music have been composed for the quartet at disposal, one should have the opportunity to reflect on one's own piece of orchestral or instrumental concert music and discuss details of form, orchestral technique, sound language and new notation with teachers. There is the real opportunity - which should be taken - to prepare outlines and fragments for these pieces in advance: a procedure that has proved valuable to many well known composers such as Debussy, Schönberg, Webern, etc.

The young generation has little access to New Music. Though one can listen to the occasional piece in concerts and on CDs, scores of real New Music are almost unattainable. After the war my generation had the opportunity to thoroughly study the works of Strawinsky, Schönberg, Berg, Webern, Bartók and even Var?se and Messiaen, not in order to emulate them, however, but to build upon their results and find new solutions. Nowadays, the young composer has nothing. In today's cultural desert there is no access to what the older important composers do or did. The thorough knowledge reaches only back to the 50s because from then onwards the publishers have increasingly failed for material reasons and printed less and less scores. Today, nearly half a century later, we have access to maybe 1/20 of interesting New Music. Sitting on the panel of experts in composition competitions, no more than two or three of the many hundreds of compositions submitted can be taken seriously: it is obvious that the young people do not know what new Music actually is, what it can do, what it can offer and how it developed.

My idea is to contradict this state with my knowledge of the immense opportunities of New Music. We should stop listening to the people who claim that already everything that is possible has been composed. In fact one has composed incredibly little! The composers who perform at the International Academy for New Composition and Audio-Art should not satisfy themselves with the performance of a short piece of music for one or two instruments, but in addition acquire future knowledge of orchestral and new chamber music. Moreover, they have the opportunity to attend the rehearsals and concerts of the invited artists and can see what one can create in New Music.
I hope that the students appreciate this new, expanded kind of education in composition. I wish it for them as well as for myself

Boguslaw Schaeffer

is a composer, dramatist, and graphic designer.
He is professor for instrumental composition at the Music Academy in Krakow, at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and since 1993 also at the International Academy for New Composition and Audio-Art in Tirol.
Since the year 2000 he is the artistic director of the composer's workshop of the avantgarde Academy.

May 2001
© Boguslaw Schaeffer
Published only on the website of avantgarde tirol

<< Back