Bernhard Lang is undoubtedly one of the most internationally significant, frequently performed and productive contemporary composers. After studying music, jazz, and composition with mentors such as Georg Friedrich Haas and Gösta Neuwirth, Lang spent most of the 1980s and early 1990s touring across Europe as a successful pianist, arranger, and improviser with several experimental jazz-rock bands.
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Opera / “Musiktheater”
In the highly comedic music-theatre Der Reigen
(2014), Lang and librettist Michael Sturminger transport Der Reigen from its original setting in late nineteenth-century Vienna into the present day. In a cycle of ten short dialogues, Der Reigen
shows equally as many sexual encounters between people from across all layers of society.
"This is a stylistic specificity with which Lang provides punchlines and scenic climaxes." (Der Standard). Read the full review
In Der Hetzer
(2019), Verdi’s late-romantic opera becomes a forceful, jazz-infused political commentary on pressing current issues such as migration and ethnic bias. In the intervals between the four acts, the composer invites young, local talent to the stage and asks hip-hop artists, rappers, and DJs to comment on their own experiences with the opera’s central themes.
"With a rewriting of Verdi's drama of jealousy, composer Bernhard Lang shows how opera can work today - for young audiences and for older ones. Both groups were enthusiastic after the world premiere of the 100-minute piece [...]."
Ruhr Nachrichten, 29.09.2021
The Cheap Opera
series, is a musical take on documentary filmmaking. In these works, the composer tackles current socio-political debates head on. Migration, the surge of populism, or invisible diseases – no subject is too sensitive for Lang when the mission is to raise awareness.
Read the composer's interview with Music Austria
about composing the Cheap Opera series.
contains over forty compositions, and new works are added on a regular basis. While all of them differ drastically in instrumentation, scale, and atmosphere, an explicit engagement with exact musical repetition and the limits thereof is what binds these works together.
The series marks a radical departure from the composer’s prior engagement with post-structuralist philosophy. Instead, the starting point for this cycle of works is game theory: a subfield of mathematics which studies the strategic decision-making among participants in a competitive and strictly rule-based scenario.
Listen to a radio feature about the series
, including composer commentary.
From Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven to Chopin, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky: no historical work is off limits for Lang. In this series, the whole of music history is Lang’s playing ground.
In terms of philosophical inspiration, Hermetika
marks a radical departure from the chronologically earlier series Differenz/Wiederholung
. Instead of Deleuzian philosophy, the starting point for these works is an assorted collection of so-called “hermetic” texts.
Photos: Harald Hoffmann, Leon Greiner