Chaya Czernowin

Chaya Czernowin

Born: December 7th, 1957
Country of origin: Israel


For violin solo
September 9th, 2015 | Thüringische Sommerakademie - Böhlen - Germany

Adiantum Capillus-Veneris I (Maidenhair fern I)
September 10th, 2015 | Prinzregententheater - München - Germany


Chaya Czernowin gives an impressive display of where advanced music theatre can end up – deep down in the dark shafts of subconsciousness, beyond all reality and verbalisation. (Claus Spahn, Die Zeit)

Chaya Czernowin was born on 7 December 1957 in Haifa and was brought up in Israel. She commenced studies in composition at the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv and from the age of 25 has lived in Germany, Japan, the USA and Austria. Thanks to her teachers Abel Ehrlich, Dieter Schnebel, Brian Ferneyhough and Roger Reynolds and also a series of scholarships and prizes, she was able to devote herself intensely to the development of her musical language. Czernowin’s compositions have been performed at more than fourty festivals throughout the world including the 20th Century Music Festival in Mexico, at the Wien Modern in Vienna, the Asia Pacific Triennial in Australia and in Huddersfield. She has been in great demand as a teacher due to her profound knowledge of experimental contemporary music. She taught composition at the Yoshiro Irino Institute in Tokyo in 1993/94 and at the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt between 1990 and 1998. She was professor for composition at the University of California San Diego from 1997 to 2006 and taught at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna from 2006 to 2009. She received invitations to attend as a guest professor in Göteborg and Seoul. She has been the director of the International Summer Academy for young Composers in Schloss Solitude near Stuttgart since 2003 and was appointed professor for composition at the University of Harvard in 2009.

Czernowin composed the opera Pnima...ins Innere for the Munich Biennale in the year 2000. The work is based on the story “Momik” from David Grossman’s book “See Under: Love”. An Israeli boy attempts to comprehend the Holocaust experiences of the generations of his parents and grandparents, but these persons are unable to talk about their traumatic memories. Czernowin has transposed the impossibility of liberating communication into an independent musical concept: the language disintegrates into sounds, the music explores the borders of tonal sound effects and the plot remains within the realms of the subconscious. The first production of Pnima won the Bavarian Theatre Prize and was acclaimed by the periodical Opernwelt as the “Best performance of the year”. The musical theatre fragment Adama (2004/05) was created as a contemporary counterpoint to Mozart’s unfinished singspiel Zaïde · Adama and was premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2006. Czernowin’s music is created on an independent level in parallel to Mozart’s musical numbers – in part simultaneously and in part replacing the missing dialogues. The theme of Zaïde’s flight is reflected in with the hopeless love relationship between an Israeli and a Palestinian. Czernowin’s full-length composition Pilgerfahrten (2006/07) for narrator, boy’s choir and instrumental ensemble also possesses musical dramatic characteristics. The adventurous journey of the bizarre “Mumins” to the dreaded “Hatifnatten” is described in the form of “klangtheater” [sound theatre]. The text is based on poems by Stefan George and the children’s books “Mumin” by Tove Jansson. The first performance was conducted by Roderich Kreile in the Festspielhaus Hellerau in Dresden with the Dresden Kreuzchor and the Ensemble Courage.

In addition to music theatre compositions, Czernowin has composed numerous works for chamber music groups and ensembles. In 2003, Winter Songs was completed. All three parts - Pending Light (2002/03, a commission by IRCAM), Stones (2003, Ensemble Modern) and Roots (2003, Sospeso), are based on an identical musical core played by seven instrumentalists which appears in each part in a different tonal guise with the aid of electronics, percussion and samplers. The large-scale triptych Maim (2001/2007) for orchestra and five solo instruments which traces the movements of water was premiered at the Festival MaerzMusik in Berlin under the baton of Johannes Kalitzke with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin.

Czernowin has received numerous awards for her compositions, including the Kranichstein Music Prize (1992), Asahi Shimbun Fellowship Prize (1993), the Schloss Solitue Fellowship (1996), the IRCAM reading panel (1998), the Encouragement Prize by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation (2003), the Rockefeller Foundation Prize (2004), the Fromm Foundation Award (2008), a nomination of the Berlin Wissenschaftskolleg (2008), a Guggenheim Fellowship Award (2011) and the Heidelberg Women Composer's Award (2016). Czernowin received invitations to become Composer in Residence from festivals in Dresden and Darmstadt in 2004 and in 2006 from the Salzburg Festival.