• Joy of Music – Over 250 years of quality, innovation, and tradition
Dieter Schnebel

Dieter Schnebel

Country of origin: Germany
Birthday: March 14, 1930
Date of death: May 20, 2018

Upcoming Performances

Conductor: Golo Berg
Orchestra: Sinfonieorchester Münster
June 18, 2024 | Münster (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
Conductor: Golo Berg
Orchestra: Sinfonieorchester Münster
June 19, 2024 | Münster (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus

About Dieter Schnebel

When time becomes an instant, it is transformed into space. Every spatial construction and each spatial distance is temporal: a temporal unit in which time is consolidated. (Dieter Schnebel)

Dieter Schnebel was born in Lahr/Baden on 14 March 1930. He began his studies at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg in 1949, simultaneously attending lectures given by Martin Heidegger at the University of Freiburg, and forged close contacts with the Kranichsteiner (now Darmstadt) Summer Courses for New Music (Adorno, Varèse, Messiaen, Nono, Stockhausen and later Cage). Schnebel then studied Protestant Theology (Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann), Philosophy (including the works of Ernst Bloch) and Musicology (Walter Gerstenberg, doctoral thesis on dynamics in the music of Schoenberg) in Tübingen from1952 to 1956. He was subsequently employed as a teacher and pastor in Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt/Main and Munich. A position as professor for experimental music and musicology was specially created for Schnebel at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin in 1976, a post he occupied until becoming professor emeritus in 1995. He continued his theological activities as a preacher at the Johann-Sebastian-Bach church in Berlin-Lichterfelde and the church of St.Anne in Berlin-Dahlem. He wrote numerous musicological essays and books on subjects ranging from Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Mahler and Debussy to Cage and Kagel.

Schnebel was originally a strict serial composer: Stücke für Streichinstrumente (1954/55), dt 31,6 (1956-58) and Compositio (1955/56), before an increasing anti-dogmatism spurred him on to develop experimental concept and process composition methods: Glossolalie 61Das Urteil (1959/60), (based on Kafka, 1959) and Ki-No (1963/67) in which he exploits the use of the human voice in previously unknown dimensions ranging from whispering and wheezing to screaming. He also produced compositions of a sacred character (Für Stimmen (…missa est) (1956-69), Dahlemer Messe (1984/87), Magnificat (1996/97) and missa brevis (2000-02), arrangements of Bach chorales and organ works), including works for the church pavilion at the EXPO 2000 and the documenta 2001. Through the creation of the theatre group "Die Maulwerker" at the Berlin Hochschule der Künste, Schnebel was able to systematise his open work concept which was only partially based on “fluxus” (réactions 1960/61, visible music 1960/62 and anschläge-ausschläge 1965/66) in which the musicians were instructed to participate in spatial actions involving the unconventional utilisation of their instruments and voices (Harley-Davidson for 9 motorbikes and trumpet 2000, Flipper for slot machine, performers, instruments and tape recorder 2002/03).

Each of the following work cycles originated in compositional processes over a period of several years: Maulwerke, Körper-Sprache, Schulmusik, Laut-Gesten-Laute, Museumsstücke, Schau-Stücke and Bachmann-Gedichte. In the cycles Re-Visionen (1972-92) and Tradition (1975-95) and also in the chamber music series Psycho-Logia (incl. Pan 1978/88 and Medusa 1989/93) with its references to Greek mythology, the composer developed innovative concepts in the relationship between traditional and new or experimental music. The opera Majakowskis Tod - Totentanz (1989/97), the large-scale vocal work Ekstasis (1996/97/2001) and the monumental Sinfonie X (1987/92/2004) can be counted among Schnebel’s key works.

In 1991, Schnebel was awarded the Lahr Culture Prize and was the first recipient of the European Church Music Prize awarded by the town of Schwäbisch Gmünd in 1999. He is a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, the Free Academy of Arts in Leipzig (both since 1991) and the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts (since 1996).



Born in Lahr/Black Forest on 14 March
from 1940
Grammar school, piano lessons (W. Siebler), juvenile compositions
Studied music in Freiburg (music theory with E. Doflein), attended the Kranichsteiner Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Varèse, Adorno, Leibowitz, Křenek, Scherchen, Boulez, Henze, Stockhausen)
Studied theology, philosophy ans musicology in Tübingen (Barth, Bultmann, Bloch)
Serial compositions: "Versuche" for various ensembles (Analysis, Stücke, Fragment, Compositio)
Parso in Kaiserslautern, marriage (with Camilla Riegger), 2 children (Andreas, Bettina)
Phonetic, spatially structured music: "Glossolalie" for speakers and instruments, "Das Urteil" Spatial music for ensemble
Visible, process-like music: "visible music" for conductor and one instrument, "reactions" for one instrument and audience, "Nostalgie" (for solo conductor), "Anschläge-Ausschläge" (trio), "Ki-No" Night music for projectors and listeners
Religious education teacher at the Wöhler School in Frankfurt on the Main
Organic music as direcr expression: "Maulwerke" for articulatory organs and reproduction devices
Second marriage (Iris Kaschnitz)
Religious education and music teacher in Munich, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Neue Musik at the Oskar-von-Miller Gymnasium, Munich
Educational music for "amateurs": "Schulmusik" ("Blasmusik", "Gesums", "Kontrapunkt", "Harmonik", "Stuhlgewitter", "Zahlen für (mit) Münzen")
"Tradition" - "Re-Visionen"; retrospective views forward - previews backward: "Canones" ("In motu proprio", "Diapason") for ensembles, "B-Dur-Quintett", "Lieder ohne Worte" for voice and two instruments, "Bagatellen", "Auguri" for piano, "Inventionen" for violincello solo, "Zwischenfugen" for organ, "Sinfonie-Stücke" for orchestra, "MISSA" for soloists, two choirs, orchestra and organ; "Sinfonie X" for contralto voice, large orchestra and live electronics, "Revisionen": "Bach-Contrapuncti", "Beethoven-Sinfonie", "Webern-Variationen", "Wagner-Idyll", "Schubert-Phantasie", "Janáček-Moment", "Mozart-Moment", "Schumann-Moment", "Mahler-Moment", "Verdi-Moment"
Professor of experimental music and musicology in Berlin
Spatial and mobile music: "Drei-Klang" for three ensembles, "Orchestra" for mobile musicians
Worked with the experimental theatre group "Die Maulwerker", extended journeys abroad (lectures, concerts): USA - Canada, Japan - Korea, Yugoslavia - Greece - Israel, Latin America
from 1978
Psychoanalytical music ("emotional realism"): "Pan" for flute, "Marsyas" for shawm, "Circe" fur harp, "Thanatos-Eros" for orchestra, "Sisyphos" for two instruments, "Languido" for bass flute and live electronics, "Jo" for guitar, winds and percussion
"Körper-Sprache" for 3 to 9 performers (1980)
Experimental theatre for voices and gestures: "Laut-Gesten-Laute" ("Fantasien", "An-sätze", "Redeübungen", "Weisen", "Gedankengänge"), "Zeichen-Sprache" (6 Poems for 4 heads, 2 trunks, 8 legs, 1 body, 7 arms, 3 fingers)
Ecological music: "Jowaegerli" (Scenic cantata based on Alemannic texts by J.P. Hebel), "Raumklang X" for orchestra
Further works of spatially structured music: "Monotonien" for piano and live electronics, "Das Urteil" (after Kafka), realisation of the project of 1959, "Gehörgänge-Anvironment" (Project 1972), "raum-zeit y " for musicians on revolving stools (Project 1958-60), "St. Jago" (Scenic cantata after/on Heinrich von Kleist)
Lahr Cultural Prize, member of the Berlin Academie of the Arts, member of the Free Academy of the Arts, Leipzig
Multi-spatil music:
"Museumsstücke I ", "MoMA, Museumsstücke II " for flexibel voices and instruments, "Numbers" for solo vocalist, "Schau-Stücke" Body etudes for voice and gestures, "Worte-Töne-Schritte" Musical story for voice, synthesizer and percussion

Vocal music:
"Motetus I " for two choirs, "Lamento di Guerra" for voice and organ, "Amazones" for five female voices, "Kaschnitz-Gedichte" for voice and piano, "Quintessenz´" for vocal quartet with piano, "Mit diesen Händen" for voice and violoncello

Instrumental music:
"Toccata mit Fugen" for large organ and percussion, "Lamah" for string trio with voice
Member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, Munich
Further journeys: Latin America (Montevideo, Bueños Aires, São Paolo, Rio de Janeiro), Madrid, Switzerland, Rome
World premiere of the opera "Majakowskis Tod-Totentanz" in Leipzig, first performance (partly world première) of the oratorio "Ekstasis" for soprano, percussion solo, five choirs ans orchestra in Cologne

Heart attack, bypass surgery
Further sacred music:
"Motetus II ", "Magnificat" for schola, chor and percussion, "Missa brevis", "Psalm 139" for voice and percussion, "Aschermittwochsmusik" for schola, choir, organ and percussion, "David-Project"
European Church Music Prize of the city of Schwäbisch Gmünd
Further experimental theatre:
"Y2K" (at 1.1.2000) for voices, "Harley-Davidson" for 9 motorcycles and trumpet, "N.N." for flexible voices and instruments, "Flipper" for pinball machines, voices, performers, instruments and tape, "Fontanta-Mix-Musik" for 2 performers, 2 instruments and tape, "Zimzum-Musik" Project for string trio, voice, synthesizer and projection

Further chamber music:
"Verschattungen" for bass clarinet, viola and tape, "Anfänge..." for guitar (saxophone, percussion ad lib.), "Bachmann-Gedichte" for voice, saxophone and percussion
"Lebensblätter" (Signatur 33) Art book on life and work
World premiere of "Ekstasis" at Musica Viva in Munich
Cross of Merit on Ribbon of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
"Yes, I Will, Yes!" for soprano, percussion and recording
Died on 20 Mai 2018 in Berlin



Set Descending Direction
  • Mahler-Moment
    Conductor: Golo Berg
    Orchestra: Sinfonieorchester Münster
    June 18, 2024 | Münster (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
  • Mahler-Moment
    Conductor: Golo Berg
    Orchestra: Sinfonieorchester Münster
    June 19, 2024 | Münster (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
  • Mahler-Moment
    Conductor: Golo Berg
    Orchestra: Sinfonieorchester Münster
    June 23, 2024 | Münster (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
  • Set Descending Direction