Jean-Luc Darbellay

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Jean-Luc Darbellay (born July 2, 1946 in Bern ) is a Swiss doctor , composer , conductor and clarinetist . He is considered one of the leading Swiss composers today. Darbellay is a member of the group of composers Groupe Lacroix and co-founder of the Festival L'art pour l'Aar . From 1994 to 2007 he was President of the Swiss Society for New Music (SGNM). His oeuvre amounts to over 280 works of all genres. One of his best-known works is Requiem (2005) for solos, choir and orchestra, which was premiered under the direction of Fabio Luisi . For his work he was honored with the French order Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres . Most recently he was composer in residence at the Orchester de Chambre de Lausanne and at the Festival Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad .


Origin and medical profession

Jean-Luc Darbellay comes from a long-established Valais family. The first documentary mention comes from the year 1330. He was born in 1946 as the son of the music-loving Bern doctor Pierre Darbellay (1912–1980) and his wife Rita Lohner (1913–1993). He received his first violin lessons at the age of nine from Magda Lavanchy, a student of the Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe , at the Bern Music School. Due to his interest in jazz , he switched to the clarinet in 1964 . Two years later he gave his first public concert. After graduating from a humanistic grammar school in Bern, he decided, like his brother and father before, to study medicine , which he began in 1966 at the University of Bern and passed the federal state examination in 1972. In 1968 he founded the Medizinerorchester Bern , in which he took over the clarinet part. He was promoted to Dr. med. doctorate and worked for three years as an assistant doctor in a hospital in Baden near Zurich. In addition to his compositional work, he worked as a general practitioner in Bern from 1980 until his retirement in 2012 .

Studies in music and founding ensembles

From 1975 to 1979 he studied clarinet with Kurt Weber , the soloist of the Bern Symphony Orchestra , at the Bern Conservatory . Furthermore, u. a. to his teachers Theo Hirsbrunner (student of Pierre Boulez ) in composition and composition and Paul Theissen in conducting. Jean-Luc Darbellay described himself as the musical grandson of Pierre Boulez. In 1976 he made his debut as a conductor with the orchestra of the Biel International Summer Academy . While still a student, he founded the Ludus Ensemble in Bern, which he still heads today and whose repertoire includes Swiss composers such as Ulrich Amann , Robert Blum , Caroline Charrière , Hans Eugen Frischknecht , Paul Hindemith , Arthur Honegger , Frank Martin , Othmar Schoeck and Alfred Schweizer includes. So far the chamber ensemble has given over 300 concerts at home and abroad. The Accroche Note ensemble, which specializes in contemporary chamber music, led by the singer Françoise Kubler and the clarinetist Armand Angster from Strasbourg, contributed significantly to the dissemination of Jean-Luc Darbellay's first compositions in the 1980s. In 1982 Darbellay took part in the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt. There he attended composition courses with Brian Ferneyhough , Helmut Lachenmann , Gérard Grisey , Michaël Levinas and Wolfgang Rihm .

From 1984 he took u. a. participated in conducting courses with Pierre Dervaux , Jean-Marie Auberson and Franco Ferrara . After studying composition for a year with Cristóbal Halffter , he was Edisson Denisov's assistant at the Lucerne International Music Festival IMF in 1989, 1991 and 1993 . From 1991 to 1994 he attended courses with Dimitri Terzakis at the Bern Conservatory. He worked with John Cage at a workshop in Perugia in 1992 . From 1992 to 1995 he attended Pierre Boulez's composition seminars at the Collège de France and at the IRCAM in Paris. He also took part in master classes in composition with Klaus Huber and Heinz Holliger . After the joint Denissow master class in 1993, he founded the group of composers Groupe Lacroix with Michael Baumgartner, John Wolf Brennan , Christian Henking , Stephan Sabotta and Michael Schneider . The group was later expanded to include Marianne Schroeder , Michael Radanovics and Alfons Karl Zwicker . In 1995 he founded the Ensemble Spectrum , consisting of the pianist Victor Yampolski , the cellist Natalia Savinova and the violinist Mikhail Tsinman . In 1997 he founded the Orion Ensemble with horn player Olivier Darbellay and saxophonist Marc Sieffert . Concert tours have taken him through Europe, the United States, Canada, Asia, South America and Australia.

Compositional work

Scoring sheet for the world premiere of Requiem (2005) for solos, choir and orchestra

Darbellay's compositional breakthrough came with his Concerto for Violoncello and Ensemble (1989), which was premiered the same year it was composed by the Finnish soloist Anssi Karttunen at the Maison de Radio France in Paris. He worked intensively with the cello virtuoso Siegfried Palm , to whom he dedicated seven pieces. They first met during a course given by György Kurtág in Bern. Kurtág composed the piece Lebenslauf , op. 32 (1992) for two basset horns and two pianos, which Darbellay premiered at the Witten Days for New Chamber Music . He composed the string quartet Ecumes (1996) for Radio Suisse Romande (RSR) and Radio Canada . On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Bauhaus in Dessau, he created the work Ein Garten für Orpheus (1996) for horn, basset horn and strings with references to Paul Klee for Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) . In addition, the Swiss Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain (NEC) premiered his works Chandigarh (1996) for 17 instruments and Mégalithe - Lutèce (2001) for horn and ensemble.

Under the direction of the Italian conductor Fabio Luisi , the work commissioned by the West Swiss radio Oyama (1999) for large orchestra was premiered by the Orchester de la Suisse Romande in 2000. The program was broadcast live on West Swiss Television (TSR). Performances followed in Weimar and in the Leipzig Gewandhaus with the MDR Symphony Orchestra under Fabio Luisi. Again there were broadcasts, this time at France Musique . In addition, the piece was presented to the Tribune internationale des compositeurs of the UNESCO International Music Council in Paris and performed in Hong Kong and Kiev. The same conductor also conducted his most important work, Requiem (2005) for solos, choir and orchestra. In 2007 Echos (2007) for horn and large orchestra was premiered at the Radio France Festival Présences . Darbellay's clarinet concerto Zéphyr (2008) was a. a. premiered by the soloist Stephan Siegenthaler in the Rudolfinum in Prague. In 2010 and 2011 the world premieres of Dernière lettre à Théo (2010) for baritone and orchestra by the Orchester de la Suisse Romande and Cosmos (2011) for percussion and orchestra by the Orchester de Chambre de Lausanne .

Jean-Luc Darbellay composed over 280 works of all genres, including a chamber opera . The majority of his works have been published by Ricordi Berlin and Musica Mundana . In the 2011/12 season Darbellay was composer-in-residence at the Orchester de Chambre de Lausanne and in 2012 at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad classical music festival . As part of the Œuvres Suisses project , he created the symphonic works “Convergences (distorted)” (Bern Symphony Orchestra) and “ANGES. L'univers mystérieux de Paul Klee » (Orchester de la Suisse Romande). His compositions have been included in international music festivals, including a. Festival Alternativa in Moscow, Festival Présences in Paris, Pan Music Festival in Seoul, Brucknerfest in Linz, Wien Modern and Prague Premières as well as several World Music Days of the International Society for New Music ( Bucharest 1999 , Luxembourg 2000 , Hong Kong 2002 , Ljubljana 2003 , Lucerne 2004 , Hong Kong 2007 , Gothenburg 2009 and Zagreb 2011 ).

In 2017 he was portrayed by Arnaud Merlin on France Musique (Radio France).

Organization of new music

In 2002/03 Darbellay was a founding member of the contemporary festival L'art pour l'Aar together with the Swiss composers Hans Eugen Frischknecht , Ursula Gut and Alfred Schweizer . In the course of its 20th anniversary, he brought composers such as Chan Wing-wah , Andor Losonczy and Max E. Keller to Bern. From 1994 to 2007 he was President of the Swiss Society for New Music (SGNM) and from 2003 to 2007 a board member of the International Society for New Music (IGNM). He initiated u. a. the ISCM World Music Days 2004 in Switzerland. Darbellay is also an individual member of the Society for New Music in Darmstadt, a board member of the Fondation de l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and a member of the board of trustees of the Friends of the MDR Symphony Orchestra .

Family and legacy

He has been married to Elsbeth Darbellay-driver, a laboratory assistant and clarinetist from Schnottwil , since 1971 . They have two children together, the horn player Olivier Darbellay (* 1974) and the violinist Noëlle-Anne Darbellay (* 1980).

The Center de documentation de la musique contemporaine in Paris documents Darbellay's artistic work. In 2011 he handed over his music archive to the Valais media library in Sion / Sion (Canton Valais).

Audio language

Along with Heinz Holliger , Thüring Bräm and Laurent Mettraux, Jean-Luc Darbellay is one of the most influential contemporary composers in Switzerland. It was initially shaped by the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert . Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen as well as Igor Stravinsky and Anton Webern later exerted a strong influence on him . The music theorist Theo Hirsbrunner introduced him to dodecaphony through Webern's piano works . Like other Bern composers, he is based on Sándor Veress and Pierre Boulez . The music journalist Stephan Thomas put it: “[…] Cristóbal Halffter's idea of ​​a musical continuum connects […] with Azerbaijani arabesques from Edison Denisov's sphere of influence, serial 12-tone elements from the Boulez think tank […] play an important role in connection with Terzakis' Pedaltone Studies […] ». Darbellay also gains inspiration from the fine arts, for example from Paul Klee's works So to speak and A Garden for Orpheus . In the latter work he uses his typical polyphonic compositional technique, micropolyphony . In many of his compositions the basset horn ( Espaces and Chant d'adieux ) as well as the natural horn ( Appels and Signal ) and French horn ( azure and Echos ) have an important meaning.


Catalog raisonné

Discography (selection)

Jean-Luc Darbellay's music was recorded on over 20 records.

  • 1995: Nova & Antiqua (Cascavelle) with Chœur Novantiqua, Bernard Heritier (cond.)
  • 1997: Groupe Lacroix : The Composer Group ( Creative Works Records ) with Moscow Rachmaninov Trio // Empreintes
  • 2003: Groupe Lacroix: 8 Pieces on Paul Klee (Creative Works Records) with Ensemble Sortisatio // So to speak
  • 2003: Résonances (Cascavelle) with Thomas Müller (horn), Olivier Darbellay (horn, violoncello), Walter Stauffer (clarinet), Masami Inoué (violin), Elsbeth Darbellay (bass horn), Peter Hörr (violoncello), Ludus Ensemble, Jean- Luc Darbellay (lead) // Signal, -La-, Octuor à vent, Concerto pour violoncelle, Espaces, Itinéraires, Images perdues, Appels
  • 2003: Namaste suite (Mnemes / Auralit) with Guido Arbonelli // Flash
  • 2004: Ensemble Sortisatio ( Querstand ) with Ensemble Sortisatio // Quartetto (17 miniatures)
  • 2004: Hommage à Paul Klee (col legno) with Camerata Bern , Erich Höbarth (director) // A garden for Orpheus
  • 2007: Swiss Horn Quartets Vol. II (MGB) with Horn Quartet Zurich // Azur
  • 2007: Olivier Darbellay (Grammont MGB) with Oliver Darbellay // Spectrum, Espaces magiques
  • 2009: A Portrait ( Claves Records ) with MDR-Sinfonieorchester , Fabio Luisi (cond.), Leipziger Hornquartett , Leipzig percussion ensemble, Ensemble Sortisatio, Andreas Hartmann (violin), Matthias Sannemüller (viola), MDR-Rundfunkchor Leipzig , Michael glasses (cond .), Julie Kaufmann (soprano), Iris Vermillion (alto), Christoph Genz (tenor), Markus Marquardt (baritone) // Oyama, Azur, Shadows, So to speak, Chant d'adieux, a quattro, Requiem
  • 2009: 5 Octuors du XXème siècle (Saphir Productions) with Ensemble Antipodes // Lumières
  • 2011: Jean-Luc Darbellay (Grammont MGB) with Markus Niederhauser (basset horn, clarinet, bass clarinet), Olivier Darbellay (horn), Quartet of the Camerata Bern, Jean-Luc Darbellay (lead), Noëlle-Anne Darbellay (violin), Polina Peskina (flute), Moritz Müllenbach (violoncello), Nicolas Farine (piano), Julien Annoni (drums), Stefan Wirth (piano), Egidius Streiff (violin), Mariana Doughty (viola), Alfredo Persichilli (violoncello), Biel Symphony Orchestra , Thomas Rösner (head) // A garden for Orpheus, BACH, à la recherche, Sadia, Alani, Incident Room, Gestes effleurements, MANA
  • 2017: Constellations Ardentes (Challenge Records) with Olivier Darbellay (horn), Noelle-Anne Darbellay (violin, viola), Benjamin Engeli (piano) // Ori
  • 2018: Flute News (Neos) with Elisabeth Weinzierl (flute), Edmund Wächter (flute) // Waves
  • 2018: Klee impressions, music and «polyphonic» pictures ( M&S ) with Ensemble Sortisatio // Über Wasser


  • Klee - Boulez “à la limite du pays”. In: MusikTexte 100 (2004), p. 42
  • Mozart! In: Schweizer Musikzeitung 9 (2006) 5, p. 5
  • The gangster en pullman philharmonique. In: Dissonanz 105 (2009), pp. 23–24.
  • Edison Denisov, professeur et «rassembleur» . In: Ekaterina Kouprovskaia-Bruggeman (ed.): Edison Denisov, compositeur de la lumière . Publication Cdmc, Paris 2011, ISBN 978-2-916738-05-5 , pp. 29f.
  • Life in the garden for Orpheus Paul Klee's mysterious universe of his youth . In: Zwitscher-Machine , 3, 2017, pp. 3–11.


  • Annie Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. Eléments biographiques et list of œuvres conservées à la Médiathèque Valais. Médiathèque Valais, Sion 2011 (collaboration with Jean-Louis Matthey; foreword by Jacques Cordonier and Damian Elsig; contributions by Pierre Albert Castanet and Christoph Sramek ).
  • Darbellay, Jean-Luc. In: Peter Hollfelder : Piano Music. International chronological lexicon. History. Composers. Works . Supplement, Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven 2005, ISBN 3-7959-0855-8 , p. 59.
  • Beat A. FöllmiDarbellay, Jean-Luc. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second edition, personal section, volume 5 (Covell - Dzurov). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 2001, ISBN 3-7618-1115-2 , Sp. 428-429 ( online edition , subscription required for full access)
  • Jean-Luc Darbellay. In: Thomas Grass, Dietrich Demus: Das Bassetthorn. Its development and its music . 2nd edition, Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2004, ISBN 3-8311-4411-7 , p. 111.
  • Darbellay, Jean-Luc. In: Axel Schniederjürgen (Ed.): Kürschner's Musicians Handbook. 5th edition, Saur Verlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-598-24212-3 , p. 79.
  • Darbellay, Jean Luc. In: Europa Publications (Ed.): International Who's Who in Classical Music 2012. 28th edition, Routledge, London 2012, ISBN 978-1-85743-644-0 , p. 202.
  • Philippe Savoy: Jean Luc Darbellay. La souplesse des lignes. In: Swiss music newspaper. 5 (2002) 9, pp. 5-8.
  • Stephan Thomas: «A mediating character». Approaching the composer Jean-Luc Darbellay. In: Swiss music newspaper. 9 (2006) 6, pp. 18-22.
  • Jean-Louis Matthey: Rassembler toute la production de Darbellay. In: Swiss music newspaper. 10 (2010) 6, pp. 6-7.
  • Guy Krneta : Jean-Luc Darbellay: composer . In: Dissonance 136, 2016, p. 33.
Interviews and discussions
  • Anton Rovner : An Interview with Jean-Luc Darbellay. In: 21st Century Music. 8 (2001) 3, pp. 1–2 ( digitized ; PDF; 665 kB).
  • Stephan Thomas: The Aare and New Music. In: Swiss music newspaper. 10 (2007) 12, p. 5.
Radio broadcasts
  • Regula Zehnder: Jean-Luc Darbellay: The composing doctor. People and horizons: Swiss Radio DRS 1 , September 30, 2012 (57:29 min) online .
  • Jean-Luc Rieder / Anne Gillot: 33 ans de composition. Musique en mémoire: RTS Espace 2 , 24.-28. November 2014 (5 × 57:30 min).
  • Arnaud Merlin : Jean-Luc Darbellay, cors et âme . Le portrait contemporain: France Musique , June 28, 2017 (60 min) online .
  • Eva Oertle: Jean-Luc Darbellay, composer and doctor . Music for a guest: Radio SRF 2 Kultur , December 10, 2017 (64:01 min) online .
  • Pietro Maroni: 3-part portrait show about Jean-Luc Darbellay . Special program: Radio Stadtfilter , February 11 (2:38:02 min) / February 18 (2:04:29 min) / February 25, 2018 (1:58:15) online .

Web links

Commons : Jean-Luc Darbellay  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 41.
  2. Europa Publications (Ed.): International Who's Who in Classical Music 2012. Routledge, London 2012, p. 202.
  3. ^ Dominique Auzias, Jean-Paul Labourdette: Le Petit Futé Suisse . Nouvelles Editions de l'Université, Paris 2009. ISBN 2-7469-2494-3 , p. 445.
  4. ^ A b c d e Svend Peternell: The veteran challenges the boy . In: Bernese Oberland. January 25, 2012.
  5. Oliver Meier: Bern's hardest-working concert-goer . In: Berner Zeitung. , July 26, 2012, p. 9.
  6. a b c d Rovner: An Interview with Jean-Luc Darbellay. 2001, p. 1.
  7. Europa Publications (Ed.): International Who's Who in Classical Music 2003. Routledge, London 2003, ISBN 1-85743-174-X , p. 173.
  8. a b c Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 42.
  9. a b c Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 44.
  10. a b c d Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 45.
  11. ^ Groupe Lacroix in the Music Information Center Austria
  12. a b c biography of Jean-Luc Darbellay at Musinfo.
  13. The composer. In: Berner Zeitung , June 26, 2008, p. 37.
  14. ^ Rovner: An Interview with Jean-Luc Darbellay. 2001, p. 2.
  15. ^ Bálint András Varga: György Kurtág. Three Interviews and Ligeti Homages . University of Rochester Press, Rochester 2009, ISBN 978-1-58046-328-7 , pp. 136 f.
  16. Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 46.
  17. a b Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 47.
  18. Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 51.
  19. Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 50.
  20. ^ Roland Mischke, Rolf Hosfeld: Kulturverführer Leipzig and surroundings. With Chemnitz, Halle, Wittenberg . Helmut Metz Verlag, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-937742-01-8 , p. 41.
  21. a b Stephan Thomas: "A mediating character". Approaching the composer Jean-Luc Darbellay , p. 18.
  22. Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 54.
  23. a b Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 57.
  24. Thiessoz Reynard: Jean-Luc Darbellay, compositeur. 2011, p. 59.
  25. ^ Jean-Luc Darbellay at the stage and music publisher Ricordi.
  26. works , retrieved on February 18 2018th
  27. Arnaud Merlin : Jean-Luc Darbellay, cors et âme ,, June 28, 2017, accessed on February 10, 2018.
  28. a b Oliver Meier: Busy in the service of new music. In: Berner Zeitung , June 26, 2008, p. 37.
  29. Individual members of the Society for New Music ( Memento of the original from November 5, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . GNM website. Retrieved January 29, 2013.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  30. Le Conseil de Fondation ( Memento of May 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). Website of the Orchester de la Suisse Romande.
  31. Board of Directors . Website of the Friends of the MDR Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  32. Jean-Luc Darbellay hands over his archive to the Wallis media library , Dissonance, September 14, 2011.
  33. Press kit (PDF; 2.6 MB) to deposit the works of the composer and musician Jean-Luc Darbellay at the Médiathèque Valais on September 13, 2011.
  34. ^ Maria Künzli: Classical Festival L'art pour l'aar. “Sleeping beauty” by the water. In: Berner Zeitung , January 18, 2007, p. 33.
  35. Heidy Mumenthaler: Exciting, original and flowing. In: Berner Zeitung , May 6, 2009, p. 26.
  36. Bern composer. Delightful sound color games Jean-Luc Darbellay: Portrait. In: Berner Zeitung , 23 August 2012, p. 28.
  37. Coup de Cœur Musique Contemporaine 2010 ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 554 kB). Charles Cros Academy website. Retrieved January 29, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  38. ^ The Musical Composition Prize ,, accessed April 16, 2020.
  39. The Young Musicians Favorite Choice ,, accessed April 16, 2020.