Helmut Lachenmann01:42:18

Helmut Lachenmann. Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern


Helmut Friedich Lachenmann was born in Stuttgart on November 27, 1935, into a familu of evangelical ministers. His talent on the piano and his precoclous ear were noticed early, and eventually he went to study composition with Johann Nepomuk David in Stuttart. In 1957 Lachenmann attended the Darmstadt Summer Music Course, the modern music mecca of the day. There he met the composer Luigl Nono, who would become a remendous influence; it was Nono who laid in Lachenmann's work the seed of political and social protest, of "music with a message." 


Helmut Lachenmann’s opera Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern places music and text on the opposite ends of a scale, then finds various ways to traverse that scale. The opera makes use of a large orchestra with two pianos, a chorus, two solo sopranos, tape recordings, and an actress who speaks in notated rhythms. The chorus and solo sopranos sing and/or speak, usually only one syllable at a time, the text of Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Little Match Girl.” Individual syllables of text are sometimes recognizable words, sometimes recognizable morphemes or phonemes, and sometimes recognizable only as abstract sounds.

There are further steps in this scale: the singers perform a section of the piece with pitched tongue clicks (a sound which is not connected to language, and only barely connected to the voice); sometimes their breath is used as an instrument; and sometimes they rub their hands together to produce a rapid “swooshing” sound . 

The orchestra’s material is typically more abstracted from the story, but does include some “semantic” material, such as glissandi that sound quite a bit like car horns, quotes of “Silent Night,” and chords borrowed from other pieces.
BRuCH Helmut Lachenmann temA (Ausschnitt)08:32

BRuCH Helmut Lachenmann temA (Ausschnitt)


Compare with the opera, Lachenmann's temA still involves vocal and both of them have the same interpretations. TemA is written in 1968 for flute, vioce and cello and it's  one of Lachenmann's break-through works in terms of developing his early aesthetic ideas and style. The title plays on the German words 'Atem' and 'Thema', which are breath and theme, making it clear for audience without recourse to programme notes that the work's theme is breath.


So much of Lachenmann's music is inspired by an idea that is simple on the surface, but which has produced some of the most significant developments in instrumental music. For me, I have a kind of feeling that Lachenmann's music have so many alternations between instruments or vocal and instruments. It requres performers to have good sence of communication and collaboration. 

Work CitedEdit

A guide to Helmut Lachenmann's music.

Helmut Lachenmann: Short Portrait with Self-Portrait.

A structure of physicalities.

"Helmut Lachenmann Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern". Youtube Video. Uploaded Dec. 6, 2012. Posted by “Silicua hibrido”. Accessed April 26,2014.

"BRuCH Helmut Lachenmann temA (Ausschnitt)". Youtube Video. Uploaded Dec. 6, 2012. Posted by “paperkite”. Accessed April 26,2014.

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