Leif Segerstam at the podium this week, along with Martin Haselbock, Organ – Doris Bierett, Mezzo-soprano – Helmut Wildhaber and Christopher Doig, tenors – George Tichy, baritone and Alfred Srsmek, Bass in music of Helmut Eder, Witold Lutoslawski and Kurt Weill.
Starting off with Lutoslawski’s Jeux Verutiens – followed by the Helmut Eder Symphony No 5, Op 72 (Organ Symphony) in its first performance Austrian Radio Commission. And ending with The Seven Deadly Sins by Kurt Weill.
Helmut Eder (December 26, 1916, Linz–February 8, 2005, Salzburg) was an Austrian composer who studied until 1948 at the Linz Conservatory, later studying with Johann Nepomuk David in Stuttgart and Carl Orff in Munich. Returning to Linz, he became a teacher at the Linz Conservatory, accepting a position as full professor in 1962. He also conducted the Singakademie in Linz from 1953–60 and founded an electronic music studio in the city in 1959. He became professor of composition at the Salzburg Mozarteum in 1967. Eder composed in a wide variety of traditional genres, and also wrote scores for film, television, and radio.
Leif Segerstam was born on 2 March 1944 in Vaasa, to Selim Segerstam and Viola Maria Kronqvist, into a musical family. Selim made several song books as a living. The Segerstams then moved to Helsinki in 1947. In Leif’s time in school, he played the violin and the viola in the Helsinki Youth Orchestra.
Leif’s debut concert as a violinist was in 1962, and his conducting debut was in 1963, with Rossini’s Barber of Seville, in Tampere. Following the premiere, Segerstam was hired to conduct the Finnish National Opera, and a year later, he conducted the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He conducted modern works, such as Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Shostakovich’s 1st symphony.
He studied violin, piano and conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and received a diploma in conducting in 1963. He studied conducting as well at the Juilliard School in New York with Jean Morel, he received the diploma in 1965.
Segerstam served as chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra from 1995 to 2007, and now holds the title of Chief Conductor Emeritus with the orchestra. He has held positions with numerous other orchestras, including the Danish National Radio Symphony and the Austrian Radio Symphony, and has guest-conducted many orchestras throughout the world including the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Symphony Orchestra of the State of São Paulo. He is also the professor of conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. His students include Susanna Mälkki, Mikk Murdvee, Sasha Mäkilä and Markku Laakso.
As a composer, he is known especially for his many symphonies, which number 327 as of September 2018. Most of his symphonies last for about 20 minutes, are formed of a single movement and are performed without a conductor. This is partially inspired by Sibelius’ 7th symphony. More than a hundred of Segerstam’s symphonies have been performed.
He developed a personal approach to aleatory composition through a style called “free pulsation” in which musical events interact flexibly in time, and this composition method is persistent throughout his œuvre, most notably in his “Orchestral Diary Sheets”. This method was first used in his 5th String Quartet, the “Lemming Quartet”.
Among Segerstam’s juvenilia (1960–1969) are four string quartets from 1962–1966, and the post-impressionist ballet Pandora from 1967. The quartets are usually labeled as being from his “Post-Expressionist” period.
In 2015 Segerstam began work on an opera, Völvan, with a libretto by Elisabeth Wärnfeldt.
The Kurt Weill everyone knows about – so this is not one of those “meat and potatoes concerts”, but something with a lot of adventure going for it.
Worth a listen.