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Interview with the composer Wolfgang Rihm


Wolfgang Rihm in his home in Karlsruhe: “Newly emerging naivety should not be discouraged”.
Picture: Alexander Hammer

Wolfgang Rihm was diagnosed with a serious illness in 2017. But he continues to compose undeterred and is determined to fight. That is why he does not like the fact that a documentary film about him was recently titled “Legacy”.

In your essay, “The Shocked Composer” from 1978, you write: “The first shock, the new is aging!” Now that you were born in Karlsruhe in 1952, you are no longer the youngest. Is a clarified late work in sight?

These are all word pulses. Who knows how “late” it or something is – and what does “clarified” actually mean? And if so: on purpose nothing can be done anyway. I have followed my intuition at all times, but do not see it as a feat, but simply what is humanly possible. But look: “Intuition” is also a legume. To stay in the picture: Ultimately it is “not the bean” that is of interest whether musical density has arisen intuitively. It is only the thing that counts. Does it allow you to breathe further, take a deeper look, step away from yourself?

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