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music inspires

what inspires composer gernot wolfgang?

January 12, 2010

Gernot Wolfgang is a prolific film, tv, jazz and concert music composer in Los Angeles. A 2006 LACO commission recipient, Gernot is a dear friend and devoted patron of the Orchestra. About the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s performance of his work Desert Wind, the Los Angeles Times’ Richard Ginell wrote:

Wolfgang’s arresting, jazz-drenched new score seemed to capture at once the realities and myths of Los Angeles during fire season .. This piece could also serve as the score for an archetypical 1950s L.A. detective thriller – music that’s somehow cool and sultry at the same time. Wherever your imagination takes you, Wolfgang provides the fuel…

Read on to discover Gernot’s musical muses in his own words.

The work that inspires me most is The Violin Concerto by Magnus Lindberg. I love the almost relentless expressiveness of the piece. The recording by violinist Lisa Batiashvili and the Finnish Radio Orchestra under Sakari Oramo (Sony Classical, 88697129362) keeps me on the edge of my seat throughout. I detect references to romantic music, and Alban Berg, while it is always clear that this is a piece of our times. For me, this music sounds fresh and exciting from the beginning to the end. The piece reaches me at a deep emotional level. It wears its heart on its sleeve. I love how the violin plays off the lush, clusterly orchestral textures. The piece sounds much bigger than one would expect from a Mozartean orchestra (2 oboes, 2 bassons, 2 horns, strings). As a composer, I appreciate how this piece is smart, sophisticated and yet immediately accessible.

The type of music that I listen to depends on what my next project is. I just completed a commission for the concert series Chamber Music Palisades (woodwind quintet & piano), to be premiered on April 13, 2010. In this composition I decided to honor the musical work of Austrian jazz great Joe Zawinul (without directly quoting him). Zawinul, whose main instruments were electronic keyboards and synthesizers, was one of the most successful proponents of the jazz fusion genre in the 1970s and 1980s. So, before I got going on the piece, I dug out all my old Weather Report CDs (an ensemble that he co-headed with the saxophonist Wayne Shorter at the time).

In general, once I’ve started composing I stop listening to any recorded music. Instead I attend live performances, to remind me of how certain instruments/orchestrations sound in a concert hall (and also for the social aspect).

Learn more about Gernot and his music, then discover the musical muses of other influential artistic minds by attending LACO’s Westside Connections concerts this season.

And before you go, let us know what music inspires you. Leave a comment!

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