Peter Ruzicka

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Orchestra Works Vol. 3

NEOS CD 11046

NEOS 11406 Ruzicka

SPIRAL, Concerto for Horn Quartet and Orchestra
RECHERCHE (-IM INNERSTEN), for Choir and Large Orchestra
Franz List: Am Grabe Richard Wagners
R.W., Übermalung für Orchester
R.W., Nachzeichnung für Klavier

Soloist: Sophie-Mayuko Vetter
MDR Sinfonieorchester, MDR Rundfunkorchester
Conductor: Peter Ruzicka


Concerto for Horn Quartet and Orchestra (2013/14)

15 August 2014
Leipzig Horn Quartett
MDR Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Peter Ruzicka
Work commissioned by the MDR

My composition SPIRAL for horn quartet and orchestra is based on the concept that musical shapes enter into a state of circular motion through repetition and discrepancy. In so doing, they arrive at a higher level of perception in each case. The "hearing view" onto what has already sounded becomes the "subtext" of the piece.

This work is cast in a tripartite design. Placed between two very virtuoso outer movements for the soloistic horn quartet and the orchestra, there is a slow part leading into an increasingly eruptive cadenza including the tympani and piano.

The subtitle "Concerto" refers to the consistently dialogue-like relationship of the four soloists with the large orchestral formation.



Habakuk Traber


Peter Ruzicka. A Monograph of His Works

ruz3 cov-frontPeter Ruzicka is a man of many talents – in the areas of scholarship, linguistics, leadership and creation. His creative passion, composing music, stands at the centre of focus. This monograph concentrates on his musical works. It attempts to trace the composer's path, leading from the "finding of his own language" and early successes up to the present day at the time of writing, 2013. Ruzicka's oeuvre even provided the outline of the book. The presentation follows neither merely the chronology nor the systematology of the genres. The two principal works, the operas, CELAN and HÖLDERLIN, more or less form the focal points of an ellipse; the author progresses through the topography of Ruzicka's composing, in exemplary fashion, in the field of tension formed by this ellipse. Biographical aspects are integrated into this field of tension in those instances where they necessarily interlock with the music.

Wolke Verlag Hofheim 2013, 264 pp.,musical examples
Order free of shipping cost

The present volume places emphasis on Ruzicka's musical production, whereby the circumstances of his life are always taken into consideration insofar as they are linked with the idea and compositional process of the works.
Traber's precise knowledge of Ruzicka's oeuvre is much in evidence from his substantial and linguistically polished presentations of the ideas behind the works and their creative processes, descriptions and analyses of the music as well as the secondary literature to Ruzicka's music. The author's obvious empathy for his subject, however, does not run the risk of becoming a pure hagiography. The ultimate result is an apposite portrait of Ruzicka as a composer who is always concerned with the linguistic competence of music, and one who does not in the least mind writing "music about music" in an unceasing confrontation with the overly rich body of tradition.
Gerhard Dietel, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 1/2014


for Large Orchestra (2011/12)

- R.W. (2012)

17/18 November 2013, Hamburg, Laeiszhalle (complete performance)
Hamburg Philharmonic
Conductor: Peter Ruzicka
Commissioned by the Hamburg Philharmonic

My TWO OVERPAINTINGS refer to two late piano pieces of Franz Liszt: "Unstern! - Sinistre" (Evil Star! - Sinister) composed in 1885 and "At the Grave of Richard Wagner" of 1883. Both follow a musical rhetoric that appears to have occurred outside time: freely aligned melodic gestures that begin hesitantly and then fall silent again, rhythmic traces without progressions, a kind of music that is ultimately extinguished in an obscure, indefinite harmonic language. My compositions ÜBER UNSTERN (About "Evil Star") and R.W., written for large orchestra, circle around these solitary piano meditations. Musical shapes are taken up, "lingered on", expanded and overwritten: a rethinking in a counter-subjective language that attempts to formulate identification and remoteness, rapprochement and contradiction.


For Clarinet Solo (2012)

World premiere: 23 May 2013, Vienna, Konzerthaus
Soloist: Jörg Widmann
Commissioned by the Vienna Konzerthaus

The THREE PIECES composed in the summer of 2012 refer, beneath the surface, to my THREE SCENES for clarinet solo composed 45 years previously. Both works could bear the subtitles Circling / Outburst / Epitaph. Three occurrences are more or less recounted: in a different "tone" this time, in a language filled with new experience of musical awareness.



Nachzeichnung für Klavier (Tracing for Piano, 2014)

World premiere: 27 June 2014, Gezeitenfestival, Emden
Soloist: Sophie-Mayuko Vetter


ÜBER UNSTERN (About "Evil Star")
Late Thoughts for Piano (2012)

World premiere: 28 May 2013, Ruhr Piano Festival
Soloist: Sophie-Mayuko Vetter
Commissioned by the Ruhr Piano Festival

My composition revolves around Franz Liszt's late piano piece "Unstern! - Sinistre" (Evil Star" - Sinister") composed in 1885. Liszt followed a musical rhetoric that appears to have occurred outside time: freely aligned melodic gestures that begin hesitantly and then fall silent again, rhythmic traces without progressions, a kind of music that is ultimately extinguished in an obscure, indefinite harmonic language. Under the impression of this singular composition, I first wrote a work in 2010 for large orchestra entitled ÜBER UNSTERN. It takes up musical shapes from the model, lingers on them, expands and writes over the texture. It is a rethinking in a counter-subjective language that attempts to formulate identification and remoteness, rapprochement and contradiction. The "Late Thoughts" for piano written in 2012 attempt a transcription that goes further, starting from distant reminiscences as a commentary on the piano meditation of Liszt and on my own orchestral score: music about music about music.



for Large Orchestra (2012)

First Performance of the Second Version
4. Mai 2013, Berlin, Philharmonie
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Conductor: Peter Ruzicka

World Premiere (First Version): 23 August 2012, Wiesbaden
Rheingau Music Festival
hr Sinfonieorchester
Conductor: Paavo Järvi
Commissioned by the Hessian Broadcasting Company

Live-Streaming (Videos):

Additional performance: 3 April 2014, Hamburg
NDR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Ruzicka

My music embarks on a search for an imaginary, remote sound; it comes very close without ever completely reaching it. This path leads through sound-clouds: crystalline musical shapes that seem to block one's view in different formations and densities. The musical discourse is covered up by a vehement eruption by the entire orchestra. Fields of memory ultimately enter past events. The path is lined by increasingly fragile, musically overpainted shapes. And gradually, the music appears to return...


Peter Ruzicka in Moscow

Four concerts with twelve works of Peter Ruzicka were presented in Moscow during the period between 31 March and 3 April 2013 as part of the festival "Peter Ruzicka: Young Russia - Young Europe" coordinated by the Goethe Institute.

The following compositions were performed:

The "Studio for New Music", the GAMEnsemble, the Centre for Contemporary Music MCME and the Moscow Ensemble participated in the performances, as well as the Minguet Quartet of Germany, presenting String Quartets Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 6 by Ruzicka (soloist: Alexandra Lubtchansky).
In addition, Peter Ruzicka conducted a seminar on his new orchestral works of recent years on 3 April at the "Studio for New Music".

New CD Releases


CTH 2589

Six Pieces for Large Orchestra
NDR Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach

Music for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra
Albrecht Mayer, Oboe
Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchester
Conductor: Peter Ruzicka

Memory for Large Orchestra
Vienna Philharmonic
Conductor: Christian Thielemann

The composer Peter Ruzicka (born in 1948) was an espressivo musician from the very outset. This does not mean that he does not precisely plan and structure his music, but his work has always been distinguished by a factor of communication and of empathy as well as by a narrative quality. It carries listeners away, not by confronting them with hermetical constructions but by enthralling them through suspenseful progressions - and also, especially, by means of a skilled handling of materials ensuring a relationship to tradition without being traditional in an overly obvious sense.
The first work on this recording already provides a good example of this. "Einschreibung" ("Inscription") was composed for the Mahler Jubilee Year 2010 and refers to various works of that composer by means of allusions ("quotations" would be overstating the case), e.g. through a succession of intervals or a rhythmic formula. The first piece refers to the "Purgatorio" movement of Gustav Mahler's Tenth Symphony, for example, and the second piece to the first movement of the Seventh Symphony. Ruzicka succeeds in embedding these echoes into his own, present-day sound world to such an extent that one never gains the impression of following a musical bandwagon. One could say something similar about "...Zurücknehmen... " ("...Withdrawal..."): the dissonant chord at the beginning of the Finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is not quoted, but only comes into play as a commeasurable sonic shock in conjunction with a literary allusion to Thomas Mann's novel "Dr. Faustus". "Aulodie", on the other hand, is a welcome enrichment of the solo concert repertoire for the oboe.
The renditions are spacious and well balanced in the individual instrumental groups; the differentiated references to tradition come across to their very best advantage, especially in the playing of the Vienna Philharmonic.

klassik heute - Hartmut Lück (03.08.2012)

Scale of assessment: 1-10
Artistic quality: 9
Sound quality: 9
Overall impression: 8

Inquiries concerning Heritage

The Vienna Philharmonic, like the conductor Christian Thielemann, unfortunately perform works by living composers far too rarely. When they do so, they are able to present structures in sound and colour in a manner rich in nuances. In this regard, the Philharmonic and Thielemann have attained a notable achievement in their recording of Peter Ruzicka's ". . . Zurücknehmen . . . – Erinnerung für grosses Orchester" ("...Withdrawal... - Memory for Large Orchestra") of 2009, marking the interpretative climax of an exceptionally successful Ruzicka portrait. As the title of this work suggests, Ruzicka generally creates references to tradition in his compositions in order to take up issues with them, exploring them in depth – on quite a large scale and with an effectiveness that can almost be called scenic. Indeed, this Henze pupil, who presently directs the Munich Biennale for Music Theatre, reveals himself here to be a knowledgeable, skilful orchestrator. The inquiry into musical heritage, meanwhile, unquestionably accommodates the Vienna Philharmonic and Thielemann, whereby the work "Einschreibung" ("Inscription") for large orchestra of 2010 and "Aulodie" for oboe and chamber orchestra of 2011 are also characterised by these tendencies. Here, above all, it is the oboist Albrecht Mayer who is able to convince listeners, capturing a plethora of colour shadings whilst simultaneously bringing to life a beautiful cantabile quality.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11 May 2013 (frm)


Orchestral Works, Vol. I

NEOS CD 11045

In 2012 a new CD with four orchestral works composed by Peter Ruzicka between 2001 and 2008 was released by NEOS. The recordings were made in 2010 in co-production with the NDR with the following works:

VORECHO, Acht Ansätze für großes Orchester (PRE-ECHO, Eight Approaches for Large Orchestra)
NACHKLANG, Spiegel für Orchester (ECHO, Mirror for Orchestra)
MEMORIAL PER G.S. für Orchester
NDR Symphony Orchestra, cond.: Peter Ruzicka

This is a fascinating musical language of our time, spoken precisely and idiomatically by the NDR Symphony Orchestra. This ensemble allows the sounds to emerge from oblivion and sink back into it, rambling around searchingly and warming itself up on rare tonal islands; if required, it can conclude with a heavy barrage of staccato.

Music *****, Sound****
FonoForum, April 2012

As has been demonstrated on many CDs, Ruzicka is a superb conductor. The orchestra is excellent, so we can assume the composer is getting everything he wants from these performances. The recorded sound is dark, reverberant, and lush. This is a magnificent disc.

Fanfare (USA), April 2012

Peter Ruzicka is a personality of a kind that only occurs a few times within a century. A high-profile composer, gifted conductor, important artistic director and cultural manager – his wide-ranging abilities promptly recall those of his predecessor Rolf Liebermann, music director of the Hamburg State Opera, who united comparable talents. It is thus appropriate and gratifying that the NDR is tackling a CD edition of Ruzicka's orchestral works in cooperation with the Fundación BBVA and the recording label NEOS.

The works presented here were composed within a ten-year period, from 1997 to 2006. "Nachklang" (1999) was composed immediately after completing the opera "Celan", transforming orchestral passages from that work and developing new perspectives on the material which, at times, appears to consist of conventional cadences. At first, one could gain the impression that the CD is damaged, for the music repeatedly emerges out of oblivion. "Vorecho" (2005-6), subtitled in "scenes", has been designated by Ruzicka as a preliminary study for the opera "Hölderlin"; its continually dominating, choral-like theme resembles the subject of Gustav Mahler's Tenth Symphony. The "Memorial per G. S.", written on the occasion of the death of the composer's friend Giuseppe Sinopoli in 2001, is a kind of musical stele. "Nachtstück" (1997; the booklet text does not explain the subtitle "– aufgegebenes Werk" - abandoned work) is perhaps an intensification of the three previously presented works, cast in a magnificent, clearly structured symphonic arch form.

Ruzicka's ability to develop logical, carefully worked-out arcs of tension over long periods of time, his refinement in orchestration, his feeling for moods, tensions and releases, shadings and clarifications, for sound and noise fields, for melodic design and counterpoint, for virtuoso and emotional sound forms, for intimacy and open outbursts – all this is explored and made manifest, in a variety of ways, in the four works presented here. The recordings with the NDR Symphony Orchestra under the composer's direction are of exemplary quality. This orchestra, which has not been so strongly represented on the recording market, is at its best; it is obvious that it does not require the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie (a concert hall currently under construction) in order to deliver outstanding interpretations. The recording technology is very good and the precision with which Ruzicka has prepared the works corresponds to the customary peak level for music of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Interpretation: *****
Sound quality: ****
Repertoire value: *****

Klassik heute - Dr. Jürgen Schaarwächter, 16 August 2012

Orchestral Works, Vol. 2


ÜBER UNSTERN (About "Evil Star") Overpainting for Large Orchestra
TRANS for Chamber Ensemble
MAHLER | BILD for Large Orchestra

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Conductor: Peter Ruzicka
Co-production NEOS/DeutschlandRadio (March 2012)

Attentive, Dialectical Listening - Peter Ruzicka and the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin Inspire Listeners with Richly Expressive Mahler Echo

An intellectual composes music: in the case of Peter Ruzicka, this means that his works are created before a broad intellectual-historical backdrop, in full awareness of the ubiquity of history - but they are by no means academic. Refreshingly free of any cerebral avant-garde attitude, the music of his late style is full of a richly expressive creative urge. It communicates directly - Ruzicka's reminiscent perpetuation of motifs and signals, processes of formation and disintegration thrill audiences in a manner analogous to Gustav Mahler's sound images. From listening attentively and dialectically to Mahler, from the natural sound of Symphony No. 1 to the nine-tone catastrophic chord of Symphony No. 10, there arises an orchestral music drama by Ruzicka - at once idyllic in its background and fragmented like a nightmare. It is performed by the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the composer's direction with devotion - this is evident in the staggered arrangement of sonic layers, perfectly articulated crescendi, precisely intoned, glassy frictions and exciting timbres. This brilliant first recording of three orchestral works by Ruzicka could not be more authoritative.

Peter Krause, concerti June 2014


Works for Violoncello

pr violoncello

...ÜBER DIE GRENZE (... Beyond the Boundary) Concerto for Violoncello and Chamber Orchestra
REZITATIV for Violoncello and Piano
NACHSCHRIFT (POSTSCRIPT) for Violoncello and Piano
STILLE (STILLNESS) for Violoncello

Valentin Radutiu, Violoncello, Per Rundberg, Camerata Salzburg conducted by Peter Ruzicka
Co-production Deutschlandfunk, December 2012/March 2013

This music explores extremes, settling on boundaries and provoking new listening experiences. Peter Ruzicka is interested in areas the subtleties of which must be interpreted with thoroughness, whether it is a question of withdrawal into inaudibility or the emergence of an enormous wave. "...über die Grenze" (...Beyond the Boundary) is the name of Ruzicka's cello concerto; a horizontal line runs through the work, but this line sometimes seems to be more felt than heard. The high tone of the chamber orchestra's strings, however, never disappears entirely, and Valentin Radutiu's violoncello playing is brilliant before this backdrop. Indeed, Ruzicka is concerned here with the boundary between life and death. The Camerata Salzburg under Peter Ruzicka's direction maintains this tension up to the end in a congenial cooperation that clearly illuminates Ruzicka's expressive spectra.

Music *****
Sound *****

Tilmann Urbach, Fono Forum, February 2014

Ruzicka's customary, highly expressive style meets here with an instrument that seems to be especially made for it - the cello's broad sonic spectrum presents the most differentiated, indeed extreme emotional states. It is not by chance that several of the works recorded here were created in close temporal proximity to Ruzicka's two stage works CELAN and HÖLDERLIN - both personalities of literary history with existential borderline experiences on the edge of falling silent or of annihilation. Radutiu constantly immerses himself in this sound world, felicitously placing his outstanding technical abilities at the service of interpreting this music, especially the solo works. In the Concerto, he finds ideals partners in the Camerata Salzburg for decidedly intimate music-making.

Artistic quality: 9
Sound quality: 9

Hartmut Lück, Klassik heute, 29 November 2013

Enescu & Ruzicka: Two Premiere Recordings

Peter Ruzicka conducts here the German premiere of the 5th Symphony of George Enescu for tenor, women's choir and orchestra, composed in 1941, and "Isis", a symphonic Adagio, with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, the NDR Choir and the tenor Marius Vlad. The Romanian composer George Enescu only completed short-score versions of these two works, which do not fit neatly into any pigeonhole. They were finally worked out in detail and orchestrated during the 1990s by Pascal Bentoiu to the extent that a considerable co-authorship can be ascribed to him. In "Isis", a symphonic poem for women's choir and orchestra, the beautiful sounds of the women's voices are integrated into the orchestra like instruments. With a larger number of musicians, the Fifth Symphony has a strong sound and is tinged by folklore. Gripping! But "despite his use of a large orchestra, Enescu consistently attains a transparency almost reminiscent of chamber music. The most subtle sound mixtures create a special kind of tension between the complexity of the musical moment and the indefinite expectation of what is yet to come. Enescu's 'forms moved by sound' coalesce to create a more-or-less unending melody, later joined by the human voice in the fourth movement. The setting of the poem by Eminescu appears to sound out from afar; its sonic complexity results in an orchestral part extremely rich in timbres, taking up musical shapes of the previous movements again." (Peter Ruzicka)

Source: (as of: 23.06.2014)

Enescu: Symphony No. 5
+ Isis
Marius Vlad (Tenor)
Deutsche Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken/Kaiserslautern
NDR Choir
Peter Ruzicka (conductor)

More Important than all the Mahler Remakes of the Past Decades: Peter Ruzicka with George Enescu's Fifth of 1941
George Enescu's Fifth (1941) exists as a short score; he orchestrated two thirds of the first movement himself, and the rest was accomplished by Pascal Bentoiu in such an impressive way that "ideally matched" almost seems like an insult. Also breathtaking is the way in which the interpreters grasp Enescu's music - these landscapes in evening light with deeply glowing colours, long shadows and underlying murmuring voices. This is a passionate, enraptured song of farewell to a world whose spiritual essence is sensual beauty. Isis (1923), also unfinished, uses the same incantatory formulas. Enescu was modern but not avant-garde in the academic sense; not a constructor, but a natural event. His creations are absolutely unique, without models or successors. It is high time that we finally recognise him as Bartók's brother.

concerti Juli/August 2014 - Volker Tarnow

A better interpretation of these works, more true to the style, can hardly be imagined. The recording of the works by the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken is a true discovery and a deed for which we owe Peter Ruzicka a great deal of gratitude. It gives the orchestra an excellent testimony.

Fono Forum - September 2014 (Star of the Month) - Giselher Schubert

New Enescu World Premiere with Ruzicka

FonoForum acclaimed our first Enescu CD as its »Recommendation of the Month«: »A better and stylistically more faithful interpretation could hardly be imagined. The Enescu recording with the German Radio Philharmonic and Peter Ruzicka is a genuine discovery.« The present recording, like the Symphony No. 5 in D major (cpo 777 823-2), is a world-premiere release conducted by Ruzicka. It emphatically underscores Enescu’s rank as a great symphonist of the twentieth century. Nothing more in his late symphonies appears to us to be Rumanian. And yet this idiom is present in a subtle manner. In many instances he employs the old church mode scales, the scales based on the Byzantine tradition, and combines them with the familiar keys of the major-minor system. Intervals such as the second, fourth, and seventh, demonized by classical harmonic doctrine but loved by Rumanian folk musicians, are frequently encountered in his music. Much later, in Paris, Enescu composed his Chamber Symphony op. 33 for twelve solo instruments, his last work. The composer was in poor health, and it in every way has the character of his last will and testament. The instrumentation has been thinned out, the musical material has been submitted to an absolute standardization, and the four movements vaguely correspond to the formal parts of the classical sonata movement, occurring in succession more or less in the manner of an exposition, a development section, a recapitulation, and a coda. The lament of the trumpet heard in the third movement, which was initially entitled »Adagio funebre,« impressively depicts Enescu’s bitter summation of his life.

Source: (as of: 20.7.2015)

george enescu

Enescu: Symphonie Nr.4 e-moll
+Nuages d'Automne sur les Forets; Kammersymphonie op. 33
NDR Radiophilharmonie
Peter Ruzicka (conductor)