Author Topic: Wolfgang Fortner (1907 - 1987)  (Read 1636 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Wolfgang Fortner (1907 - 1987)
« on: October 14, 2013, 10:33:40 AM »


I didn't see a composer thread for Fortner, so I started one! Anyone familiar with this composer?

Some background information -

A leading German composer and teacher, Wolfgang Fortner wrote in a unique serialist style that preserved elements of continuity derived from Baroque and folk melody practices. He began his musical education in the traditional Leipzig manner (established by the Protestant church) by studying organ, composition, and musicology at the conservatory. His first compositions -- a Toccata and Fugue for organ (1927), an orchestral Suite after Sweelinck (1930), Fragment Mariae, a chamber cantata for soprano and eight instruments (1930), and the String Quartet No. 1 (1930) -- show the influence of Baroque formality and religious elements. In works of the '30s, the influence of composers Hindemith and Stravinsky would also come to the fore.

Fortner taught at the Heidelberg Institute of Church Music beginning in 1931 and founded the Heidelberg Chamber Orchestra in 1935. During this period, Fortner penned several religious works, including Drei Geistliche Gesänge (Three Holy Songs on texts from Claudius, Verlaine, and the Bible) for a cappella choir (1932), Eine Deutsche Liedmesse (A German Song Mass) (1934), and Psalm XLVI (1934). There were also chamber orchestra pieces, such as the Concertino for Viola and Orchestra (1934) and a Concerto for Strings (1933). Smaller works included the Preambel und Fuge for organ (1932), a Suite for violoncello (1932), and a Piano Sonatina (1932).

After the war, Fortner founded the Musica Viva concerts in 1947, which introduced many contemporary works. Fortner began teaching twelve-tone composition at the famous Darmstadt summer courses in 1946; his students included Hans Werner Henze and B.A. Zimmermann. Fortner's own music veered toward embracing the formalism of serialist procedures; he replaced melody with unifying patterns or isorhythms and organized the parameters of pitch and amplitude dynamics according to logical means.

Fortner's postwar stage works include the ballet, Die Weisse Rose (The White Rose), after Wilde's The Birthday of the Infanta (1950), and the pantomime Die Witwe von Ephesus (The Widow of Ephesus) (1953). One of his most powerful works is the opera Die Bluthochzeit (The Blood Wedding) (1957), based on Federico Garcia Lorca's text. Fortner set another text by Lorca in the chamber opera in four scenes In Seinem Garten Liebt Don Perlimplin Belisa. This work is notable for its wide range of beautifully orchestrated timbres and subtle dramatic development. Fortner found new expressiveness in serial techniques by applying them to religious music in the oratorio scene Isaaks Opferung, for alto, tenor, bass solos, and 40 instruments (1952), The Creation on a text by J.W. Johnson for mezzo soprano, baritone, and orchestra (1955), and Die Pfingsgeschichte (The Story of the Pentecost) after passages in St. Luke for voices, small orchestra, and organ (1963).

From 1957 until 1972, Fortner was a professor at the Freiburg Musikhochschule. He was also president of the German section of the ICSM (1957), head of the music section of the Berlin Academy of Arts, and a member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. His many awards include the Schreker Prize of Berlin (1948) and the Bach Prize of Hamburg (1960).

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

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It seems that recordings of Fortner's music are quite scarce and/or hard to come by. I picked up a Gunter Wand recording on the Profil label today that contains one of Fortner's works simply titled Symphony. I'm definitely investigating this composer right now.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 10:35:11 AM by Mirror Image »
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kyjo

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Re: Wolfgang Fortner (1907 - 1987)
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2013, 12:00:39 PM »
As I said in the "Purchases Today" thread, I greatly enjoy his Symphony-a powerful, concise work rather like Hartmann but a tad more energetic and a little less bitter (I love using this word when conversing with you, John ;D)! Can't say I know any of his other works, though. :(

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wolfgang Fortner (1907 - 1987)
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2013, 04:04:00 PM »
As I said in the "Purchases Today" thread, I greatly enjoy his Symphony-a powerful, concise work rather like Hartmann but a tad more energetic and a little less bitter (I love using this word when conversing with you, John ;D)! Can't say I know any of his other works, though. :(

I sampled a bit of his Symphony today via YT and really liked what heard. I see there's a Violin Concerto on the MD&G label but it's an archive recording which usually translates to 'bad audio.' :) And, yes, the more bitter and jaded the music is, the more I like it. ;) :D
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 04:21:20 PM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline springrite

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Re: Wolfgang Fortner (1907 - 1987)
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2013, 05:45:47 AM »
I greatly enjoy his Symphony-a powerful, concise work rather like Hartmann but a tad more energetic and a little less bitter

What's wrong with being bitter? Huh? Tell me!

I am feeling bitter about that comment!



PS: I only have one CD of his work and may explore others in the future. I can't now since I have made my last final order of the year too many times to make another one.
Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wolfgang Fortner (1907 - 1987)
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2013, 07:19:44 AM »
Yeah, give me the bitter! We want bitter! :P
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

snyprrr

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Re: Wolfgang Fortner (1907 - 1987)
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2013, 12:15:08 PM »
I'll vouche for 'Bluthochzeit' in the orchestral extract (@15mins.; Wand-RCA), very stylistically diverse and slightly wild, maybe like Pfitzner from the '20s? (or early Hindemith?)

snyprrr

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Re: Wolfgang Fortner (1907 - 1987)
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2013, 12:24:09 PM »
Let's keep Eck and Fortner together, shall we? ;)