Cristóbal Halffter

b. 1930

Spanish

Summary

He studied music at Madrid’s Real Conservatorio de Música and in 1962 was appointed to a teaching post of Composition through public examination at the Conservatoire, of which he was its Director from 1964-1996.

Commissioned by the United Nations to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1968, he composed the cantata, Yes, speak out, yes, for soloists, speakers, choirs and orchestra, premiered in New York.

His works include Elegías a la muerte de tres poetas españoles; Officium Defunctorum, for choirs and orchestra; two violin concertos; two cello concertos – the second commissioned by the Baden-Baden orchestra for Mstislav Rostropovich; Tres Poemas de la lírica española, for baritone and orchestra commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Concierto para piano y orquesta, for Paul Sacher and the Munich-based Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

In February 2000 his opera Don Quijote was premiered at the Teatro Real de Madrid, making a strong impact on critics worldwide. In August 2003 his work, Adagio en forma de Rondó, was commissioned by the Salzburg International Festival. In May 2008 his opera Lázaro was premiered in Germany at the Kiel Theater to commemorate the theater’s centenary.

Biography

He studied music at Madrid’s Real Conservatorio de Música and in 1962 was appointed to a teaching post of Composition through public examination at the Conservatoire, of which he was its Director from 1964-1996.

He has been Honorary President of the International Festival of Contemporary Art in Royan, France, in 1976 and 1978 occupied the Chair of Composition at the contemporary music courses in Darmstadt, Germany, and between 1986 and 1989 the Chair of Composition at the Bern Conservatoire, Switzerland.

His output as a composer spans a wide creative range from choral, chamber and electronic music to works for large symphonic ensembles. Commissioned by the United Nations to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1968, he composed the cantata Yes, speak out, yes for soloists, speakers, choirs and orchestra, premiered at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

His works include Elegías a la muerte de tres poetas españoles; Officium Defunctorum, for choirs and orchestra; two violin concertos; two cello concertos – the second commissioned by the Baden-Baden orchestra for Mstislav Rostropovich; Tres Poemas de la lírica española, for baritone and orchestra commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Concierto para piano y orquesta, for Paul Sacher and the Munich-based Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; and Mural sonante, homage to Antoní Tapies.

He is a Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Humanities in Paris and from 1985 of the Akademie Der Kunste in Berlin, Numerary Member of the Swedish Academy, and from 2005 of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste in Munich. He is also a member of The Ernst von Siemens Foundation and in March 1988 received the Gold Medal of the Goethe-Institut for his cultural work in the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1989 he obtained the Prix Montaigne of the Friedrich von Schiller Foundation for the "innovative values of his language and the humanistic content of his work”.

In February 2000 his opera Don Quijote was premiered at the Teatro Real de Madrid, making a strong impact on critics worldwide. In August 2003 at the Salzburg International Festival his work, Adagio en forma de Rondó, commissioned by the Festival for The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, was premiered under the baton of Semyon Bychkov. He was appointed Composer-in-Residence at the 2004 Summer Academy Mozarteum in Salzburg.

In May 2008 his opera Lázaro was premiered in Germany at the Kiel Theater to commemorate the theater’s centenary, and was highly acclaimed by the German press. Recent projects include a symphonic work commissioned by the Orquesta Nacional de España, premiered in November 2009, and the composition of a new opera whose premiere is planned for 2012.

He is continually invited to conduct the most important European and American orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, SWR Orchestra Baden-Baden, Orchestre National de France, Orquesta Nacional de España, Madrid Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Suisse Romande Orchestra, and at venues in Lucerne, Zurich, Bamberg, Hamburg, Basel, Frankfurt, Paris and London, among others.