Swiss-born composer Klaus Huber died on October 2, 2017 in Perugia at the age of 92. His works are characterized by deeply-held moral, artistic, and aesthetic convictions, and they remain extremely influential to this day. Numerous great composers ranked among his pupils, including Wolfgang Rihm, Brian Ferneyhough, Toshio Hosokawa, Kaija Saariaho and Younghi Pagh-Paan (who later became his wife). We have lost a great person and a great musician, a thinker, a passionate pedagogue, and an endless source of inspiration. Our thoughts are with his family.
Klaus Huber was born in Bern in 1924 and studied violin and composition at the Zurich Music Conservatory. In 1955 he went to Berlin, where he continued studying composition with Boris Blacher. His international breakthrough came in 1959 with the chamber cantata Des Engels Anredung an die Seele [The Angel's Appeal to the Soul]. There followed a creative phase lasting more than 60 years in which he repeatedly subjected his compositional thinking to far-reaching re-examinations, always seeking new inspirations and continuously developing his style further. In his compositions he worked with Asian and Latin American culture, amongst others. His later works in particular are characterised by using microtonality and adopting the Arabic tone system.
Klaus Huber understood himself as a political composer, frequently addressing philosophical, religious and social questions in his works. His work focussed on the conflict between the individual and the collective, between humane vision and anti-human power.
As a composer, Klaus Huber helped creatively shape the development of contemporary music full of moral, artistic and aesthetic convictions. With him, we lose a great person and a great musician, a thinker, passionate pedagogue and endless source of inspiration.
His musical far-sightedness and worldview, his artistic openness, the concentration of his compositions and the diversity of his oeuvre not only made an impact on his students and countless composers, but also decisively influenced the profile of the publisher Ricordi.
Stage work in nine sequences
Text: Michael Schindhelm and Klaus Huber, based on the writings of Ossip Mandelstam
WP: 3.11.2001, Basel
Duration: full length
Die Erde dreht sich auf den Hörnern eines Stieres (1992/93)
Assemblage for four Arabic and two European musicians and tape
Text: Mahmud Doulatabadi (Persian, Arabic, French, German)
WP: 22.4.1994, Witten
Die Seele muss vom Reittier steigen... (2002)
for violoncello solo, baritone solo, counter tenor (or alto) and 37 instrumentalists
Text: fragments of a poem by Mahmoud Darwish
WP: 20.10.2002, Donaueschingen
Erniedrigt – Geknechtet – Verlassen – Verachtet... (1975/78-1983)
for soloist, choir and orchestra
Text: Ernesto Cardenal, George Jackson, Carolina de Jesús, Prophet Jesaja
WP: 14.10.1983, Donaueschingen
In memoriam Witold Lutoslawski
Chamber concerto for piano and seventeen instrumentalists
WP: 22.8.1994, Luzern
Protuberanzen (successive version) (1985/86)
Three small pieces for orchestra
I. Die Enge des Marktes; II. Implosion; III. Stäubchen aus Licht
WP: 06.04.1986, Hamburg
Quod est pax? - Vers la raison du coeur... (2006/07)
for orchestra with five solo voices and one Arabic percussion
Text: Jacques Derrida, Octavio Paz, Klaus Huber
WP: 23.9.2007, Warsaw