Theo Brandmüller

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Theo Brandmüller (born February 2, 1948 in Mainz , † November 26, 2012 in Saarbrücken ) was a German composer of new music , organist and university professor.


Brandmüller studied school and church music as well as composition with Giselher Klebe , Olivier Messiaen and Cristóbal Halffter as well as instrumental theater with Mauricio Kagel , he was accepted as a scholarship holder of the German National Academic Foundation .

After working as an organist at St. Georg in Mainz-Bretzenheim, he was appointed to the Saar University of Music in 1979 . There he worked first as a professor of music theory , then for composition, analysis and organ improvisation. Later he was also head of the Institute for New Music. Since 1982 he has also been titular organist at the Ludwigskirche in Saarbrücken and since 1986 consiliarius of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae in Rome.

He achieved his international breakthrough as a composer in 1977 at the World Music Days in Athens with the work Oh, sad moon , a commissioned work for Südwestfunk .

His compositional oeuvre, which consists of around 130 works, includes secular music and church music, chamber and vocal music, as well as music for stage works and symphonic compositions. An opera commissioned by the Saarland State Theater remained unfinished. He found inspiration for his composing a. in the poetry of Christian Morgenstern and Federico García Lorca as well as in the fine arts (for example with Paul Klee ).

In addition to his work as a university lecturer, he worked as a lecturer in various composition courses: he supervised the youth composition courses of the Jeunesses Musicales and taught at the “Forum for Young Composers”. He was also active internationally as a lecturer for organ composition and improvisation.

Brandmüller preferred contemporary works and improvisations for his organ concerts that take place around the world. He worked with internationally known conductors such as Marcello Viotti , Max Pommer , Gabriel Chmura , Leif Segerstam , Cristóbal Halffter and Peter Ruzicka .


  • 1972: Prize for composers from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate
  • 1977: Composition Prize of the City of Stuttgart
  • 1979: Rome Prize of the Villa Massimo
  • 1986: Saarland Art Prize
  • 1986: Prix Marzena, Seattle
  • 1998: Rhineland-Palatinate Art Prize
  • 2005: Honorary diploma from the Observatoire des Relations Franco-Allemandes pour la Construction Européenne
  • 2007: Guest of Honor at Villa Massimo (Rome)

Compositions (selection)

Chamber music

  • Music of Silence and Overtones (1972, rev. 1978) for piano trio and percussion
  • Cis-Cantus II (1986) for viola, violoncello and double bass
  • Still und heiter (1991) for recorder (Sino.ATB) and percussion
  • Concert on the E branch (1991) (based on a picture by Paul Klee) for viola solo (dedicated to Eckart Schloifer)
  • Imaginations (1991) for viola and chamber ensemble
  • Nirwana-Fax I - in memoriam John Cage (1996) for chamber ensemble
  • Nirwana-Fax II - in memoriam Olivier Messiaen (1996/97) for chamber ensemble
  • Nachtflug mit Messiaenfenster (2008) for piano quartet
  • Secret messages (2012) for clarinet quintet

Concert works

  • Sonata a tre (1973) for flute, mezzo-soprano and violoncello
  • Apokalyptische Vision (1975) for bass voice and organ based on words from the Holy Scriptures
  • Reminiscences (1975, rev. 1976) for orchestra
  • Oh, sad moon (1977). Complaint for Federico García Lorca for percussion solo and strings
  • Morgenstern - Abendstern (1977). “Settings” of some evening poems by Christian Morgenstern for baritone, two pianos, tuba, double bass and drums
  • As You Swore to Our Fathers (1978). Cantata for alto voice, two trumpets, two trombones, organ based on texts from the Holy Scriptures
  • Dramma per Musica (1979/80) for large orchestra
  • Venetian Shadows (1981). Epitaph in Igor Stravinsky for small orchestra
  • Concerto for Organ and Orchestra (1981)
  • U (h) rtöne (1985) for large orchestra
  • Cis-Cantus III “Lorca Cathedrals” (1987) for large orchestra
  • OrganuM – tender (1991). Orchestra fantasy about a Mozart minor triad for clarinet, strings, percussion and organ
  • And the moon sticks a long horn of light and dance into the sea (1992/93). 5 cosmic episodes for viola, violoncello, double bass and large orchestra (with tape) based on text ideas by Federico García Lorca
  • Chimères (1996) for saxophone quartet and orchestra (with tape)
  • Antigone (1999) 3rd sound song for choir with solos, 2 pianos and drums
  • Leave the balcony open (2004/05). 5 night calls for orchestra

Incidental music

Organ works

  • Hommage à Pérotin (1978) for organ
  • La nuit de Pâques (1980). A litany for organ and live electronics
  • Interior light (1982) for organ
  • Seven Pieces for the Passion Time (1983) for organ
  • Enigma I (1989) for violin and organ
  • Monody for I. in memoriam Isang Yun (1995) for organ
  • Drei Engel für Scelsi (2001) for three clarinets and organ
  • Norge (2007). Mountain resonances with shepherds' calls for organ


  • Canzona lirica e danza di morte . Reinbert Evers (guitar). CD Darbinghaus and Grimm 3292
  • C sharp cantus II. Trio basso . CD Koch-Schwann 310 041
  • Enigma I . Christiane Edinger (violin), Theo Brandmüller (organ). CD MDG 625 0551-2
  • Enigma III "Ex oriente lux" . Albert Schönberger (organ), Benedikt Sturm and Christopher Ludwig (boy sopranos of the Mainz Cathedral Choir), Mainz Cathedral blowers, conductor: Mathias Breitschaft. CD "Composers from Rhineland-Palatinate", Studio Tonmeister 10778-01
  • "And the moon sticks a long horn of light and dance into the sea ..." . Contra-Trio, Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor: Marcello Viotti. CD MDG 625 0551-2


His students include a. Manuel Gera (* 1963), Zeynep Gedizlioğlu (* 1977), Wolfram Graf (* 1965), Han Aseon (* 1963), Christian Klein (* 1967), Stefan Lindemann (* 1969), Karola Obermüller (* 1977), Javier Party (* 1980), Marc Schubring (* 1968), Wang Lin (王琳) (* 1976), Dan Zerfaß (* 1968).


  • Theo Brandmüller: Arrièregarde - avant-garde. Texts on music 1980–1998. (= Source texts on the music of the 20th century. Vol. 6.1.) Edited by Stefan Fricke, Wolfgang Frobenius, Sigrid Konrad and Friedrich Spangemacher. Pfau-Verlag, Saarbrücken 1998, ISBN 3-89727-006-4 .
  • Joachim Dorfmüller : Impulses from Perotin to Messiaen. On Theo Brandmüller's work for and with organ. In: Musica Sacra . Regensburg 1980. pp. 316-318.
  • Stefan Fricke: Theo Brandmüller , in: Contemporary composers . Edition Text + Criticism, Munich, in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely available)
  • Jörg Abbing, Sigrid Konrad: Vingt Regards sur Theo. Composer, concert organist, university lecturer. Pfau-Verlag, Saarbrücken 2013, ISBN 978-3-89727-496-9 .
  • Friedrich Spangemacher: Creator, Spiritus, Musicus: Theo Brandmüller - a biography. Pfau-Verlag, Saarbrücken 2013, ISBN 978-3-89727-497-6 .
  • Literature on Theo Brandmüller in the Saarland Bibliography

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Composer, organist and university professor: Theo Brandmüller is dead . New music newspaper online, accessed November 28, 2012.