Wilhelm Killmayer

composer (1927-2017)

“A single note is very precious to me - like a crystal or a flower.”

Wilhelm Killmayer

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Biography

Wilhelm Killmayer's life as a composer has been an attempt to create a transparent space for an alternate path for new music, an alternative to both the formalism of the post-war generation and to the conservative amateur's love for harmonies, melodies, and grandeur. His music concentrates on the sound itself - carrying the listener towards a separate reality by way of currents of air, vibrating with sound waves - wisely, transparently, without any fuss. Alex Ross has said, "Killmayer has found a kind of secret doorway to the Romantic tradition of Schubert and Schumann... [showing] an electric connection between word and music."

His music has been recorded by the cellist Nicolas Altstaedt, among others. His orchestra piece Nachgedanken was performed at Opera Gießen with Moritz Eggert conducting in April 2019 and his Opera Yolimba will be performed at the Münster Opera house next season.

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Reviews

THE NEW YORKER

 

“Killmayer has found a kind of secret doorway to the Romantic tradition of Schubert and Schumann... [showing] an electric connection between word and music.” 

—  Alex Ross,

March 2003

ARRAY MUSIC

 

“Killmayer’s insidiously surreal yet incisive music is underappreciated everywhere.” 

—  Martin Arnold,

November 2018

GRAMOPHONE

 

“Killmayer can swing from meditation to frantic action within the frame of the most basic harmonic progression, and because his music is so convincingly natural in atmosphere, techniques and materials which in other hands might seem crude and predictable serve their purpose well.” 

—  Arnold Whittall,

1989

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