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Oehring, Helmut


(b Berlin, 16 July 1961). German composer and guitarist. Born a hearing child to deaf parents, his first language was sign language. He trained as a construction worker (1978–80); as a conscientious objector to military service (1986–7) he worked as a cemetery gardener, in forestry and as a night watchman. Self-taught as a composer, his first works included incidental music and a string quartet. After consultations with Asriel, Goldmann and Zapf, he attended Katzer’s masterclass at the Berlin Akademie der Künste (1990–92). His honours include the Hanns Eisler Prize (1990), a young composer's award from West German Radio, Cologne (1992), the Orpheus Prize, Italy (1996), the Hindemith Prize (1997) and the Schneider-Schott Music Prize (1998).

Oehring's compositions derive from the complex physical and facial expressions of sign language, which he notates as music. His works outline bleak narratives that address the chasm between individuals and the futility of communication. His early compositions are concerned with stages of agony and human actions that lead to death; in later works, speech as a symbol of the impossibility of human discourse becomes the central musical subject. Much of his work can be considered social criticism. Several compositions include deaf people among the performers.


WORKS


(selective list)

Stage: Dokumentation I (chbr op, Oehring), 1993–6, Spoleto, 1996; Dokumentaroper (Oehring), 1994–5, Witten, 1995; Das D'Amato System (Tanzoper, 15 scenes, Oehring), 1996, Munich, 1996

Inst: Str Qt, 1987; Do you wonna blow job, sax qt, 1988; Nos.1–3, multiple versions, 1988–92; COMA I, orch, 1991; Asche, ob, eng hn, trbn, va, vc, db, pf, perc, 1992; Locked-in-, gui, str trio, 1992; Losheit, 2 db, 1992; Strychnin I, tpt, trbn, va, db, pf, 1993; Strychnin II, trbn, db, hp, 1993; Lethal injection, eng hn, bn, va, tape, 1994; Leuchter, ob, vc, prep pf, 1994; Suck the brain out of the head, 6 perc, tape, 1994; Dienel, bn, db, hp, 1996; Zuendel, fl, ob, str trio, prep pf, tape ad lib, 1996–7; Prae-senz (Ballet blanc II), vn, vc, pf/sampling kbd, 1997, collab. I. ter Schiphorst; Do you wish to proceed, str qt, live elec, 1998

Other works: Wrong (Schaukeln-Essen-Saft) (B. Sellin, Oehring), deaf person, ob, b tpt/trbn, vn/va, elec gui, perc, live elec, 1993–5; Self-Liberator (Oehring, R. Taumel), 2 deaf people, tpt, ens, 1994; Polaroids (melodrama, ter Schiphorst, Oehring), deaf person, 1v, 12 insts, live elecs, 1996, collab. ter Schiphorst; Live (A. Sexton), 18 songs, 1v, vn, vc, prep pf/sampling kbd, live elecs, 1997, collab. ter Schiphorst; Requiem, 3 Ct, ens, live elecs, 1998, collab. ter Schiphorst; Sprachkörper, 1v, prep pf, trbn, elec gui, live elecs, 1998

Principal publishers: Boosey & Hawkes, Bote & Bock

Principal recording companies: Wergo

BIBLIOGRAPHY


G. Nauck: ‘Verborbene Ge(Schichten): zu den Grundlagen der Musik von Helmut Oehring’, Positionen, no.32 (1997), 12–15

G. Nauck: ‘Komponieren interessiert mich nicht so sehr …: Zur Musik von Helmut Oehring’, NZM, no.1 (1998), 38–41

GISELA NAUCK


Oelze, Christiane


(b Cologne, 9 Oct 1963). German soprano. She studied with Klesie Kelly-Moog and Erna Westberger, working for the first years of her career in concert and oratorio. In 1990 she made her operatic début as Despina in Così fan tutte at Ottawa, with a first appearance at Salzburg the following year as Konstanze in Die Entführung. Her performance as Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress at Glyndebourne in 1994 was widely praised, and the same year audiences at Covent Garden enjoyed her delightful Zdenka in Arabella. She returned to Covent Garden as Servilia (La clemenza di Tito) in 2000. In 1995 she sang Pamina in a series of performances of Die Zauberflöte conducted by John Eliot Gardiner that were also filmed and recorded; and in 1996 she was the Marzelline in Gardiner’s revival of Beethoven’s Leonore.

Her pure, delicate timbre is matched by a graceful style which can lend itself more readily to expressions of happiness than of grief and deep thoughtfulness. This was sometimes remarked upon with regard to her Pamina and it has somewhat limited the effectiveness of her lieder singing. However, recordings such as that of songs by Webern show a not inappropriate coolness as well as a charming voice and resourceful musicianship.

J.B. STEANE

Oesch, Hans (Rolf)


(b Wolfhalden, canton of Appenzell, 10 Sept 1926; Anwil, Basle, 7 May 1992). Swiss musicologist. He studied musicology from 1946 with Jacques Handschin at Basle University, where he took the doctorate in 1951 with a thesis on Guido of Arezzo. Until Handschin’s death in 1955 he was an assistant lecturer in the Basle musicology institute, and from 1951 to 1966 was music critic on the National-Zeitung in Basle. He completed the Habilitation in 1959 at Zürich with a work on the medieval theorists Berno and Hermannus Contractus. Until 1967 he lectured at Zürich on ethnomusicology and medieval music history. At the same time he held a similar appointment at Basle University, where he succeeded Schrade as professor of musicology in 1967. He was also editor (1972–4) and co-editor (1975–8) of Melos (the leading German-language periodical for contemporary music), chairman of the Heinrich-Strobel-Stiftung in Freiburg (1973–92) and academic coordinator of the Paul Sacher Stiftung (from 1986). He retired in 1991.

Influenced by his teacher Handschin’s Enlightenment belief in a ‘universal’ approach, Oesch dedicated himself to the ‘musical people of all times and all populations’, focussing his work on two diverse areas, 20th-century music and ethnomusicology. In connection with the latter, he directed several field projects (in Malacca, Malaysia, 1963; in India, Indonesia and elsewhere in South-east Asia, 1974), whose findings were documented in a series of recordings. Oesch’s fieldwork was significant for its early attempts to overcome Eurocentrism in favour of a more open-minded approach to cultural history. In Aussereuropäische Musik (1984–7), Oesch summed up the guiding principle of his scholarship: to arrive at a world history of music in all its similiarities and differences, musical cultures must be examined in terms of their own underlying principles. Oesch also had personal contact with many modern composers and was convinced of the importance of a scholarly grappling with the ‘Ars Nova of the 20th century’. In addition to his many years as editor and writer in this field, he was engaged with public concert life, undertaking the role of spokesman for repertory outside the canon of both old and new music.


WRITINGS


Guido von Arezzo: Biographisches und Theoretisches unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der sogenannten odonischen Traktate (diss., U. of Basle, 1951; Berne, 1954)

ed.: Gedenkschrift Jacques Handschin (Berne and Stuttgart, 1957)

Berno und Hermann von Reichenau als Musiktheoretiker: mit einem Ueberblick über ihr Leben und die handschriftliche Ueberlieferung ihrer Werke (Habilitationsschrift, U. of Zürich, 1959; Berne, 1961)

‘Klaus Huber’, SMz, ci/3 (1961), 12–19

‘Wandelt sich das europäische Musikbewusstsein?’, Melos, xxxi (1964), 212–19

Die Musikakademie der Stadt Basel: Festschrift zum hundertjährigen Bestehen der Musikschule Basel 1867–1967 (Basle, 1967)

Wladimir Vogel: sein Weg zu einer neuen musikalischen Wirklichkeit (Berne, 1967)

‘Sorhythmische Struturen im Orient und Abendland’, Melos, xxxvii (1970), 12–14

‘Igor Strawinsky und sein Werk’, Universitas, xxvi (1971), 835–44; repr. in Strawinsky: sein Nachlass, sein Bild (Basle, 1984), 235–62

‘Das Musikleben zwischen gestern und morgen’, SMz, cxi (1971), 321–7

‘Albert Moeschingers Briefwechsel mit Thomas Mann’, SMz, cxii (1972), 3–11

‘Musik in nicht-integrierten Gesellschaften’, Schweizer Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft, i (1972), 9–22

‘Das “Melos” und die Neue Musik’, Festschrift für einen Verleger: Ludwig Strecker, ed. C. Dahlhaus (Mainz, 1973), 287–94

‘Musikalische Kontinuität bei Naturvölkern: dargestellt an der Musik der Senoi auf Malakka’, Studien zur Tradition in der Musik: Kurt von Fischer zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. H.H. Eggebrecht and D.-R. Moser (Munich, 1973), 227–46

‘Musikalische Gattungen bei Naturvölkern’, Festschrift für Arno Volk (Cologne, 1974), 7–30

‘Schönberg im Vorfeld der Dodekaphonie: zur Bedeutung des dritten Satzes aus opus 23 für die Herausbildung der Zwölfton-Technik’, Zeitschrift für Musiktheorie, v/1 (1974), 2–10

‘Pioniere der Zwölftontechnik’, Forum musicologicum, i (1975), 273–304

with E. Schlager: Rituelle Siebenton-Musik auf Bali (Berne, 1976)

‘Musikwissenschaft und Neue Musik’, Schönberg und andere: gesammelte Aufsätze zur Neuen Musik, ed. C. Dahlhaus (Mainz, 1978), 7–27

‘Auskomponierte live-elektronische Klangumformung’, GFMKB: Bayreuth 1981, 200–04

ed.: Aussereuropäische Musik (Laaber, 1984) [2 vols.]

‘Schönberg und die russichen Avantgardisten um 1920’, Die Wiener Schule in der Musikgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts: Vienna 1984, 108–21

‘Der Essayist Pierre Boulez’, Pierre Boulez: eine Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. J. Häusler (Vienna, 1985), 178–85

‘Im Schatten des ‘Sacre du Printemps’: Beobachtungen zu den “Trois poésies de la lyrique japonaise”, einem Schlüsselwerk von Igor Strawinsky’, Komponisten des 20. Jahrhunderts in der Paul Sacher Stiftung (Basel, 1986), 95–102

‘Musik als Vehikel der Jenseitsreise in schamanischen Kulturen Südostasiens’, Entgrenzungen in der Musik, ed. O. Kolleritsch (Vienna, 1987), 29–36

‘Weberns erste Bagatelle’, Das musikalische Kunstwerk: Festschrift Carl Dahlhaus, ed. H. Danuser and others (Laaber, 1988), 695–712

‘Weberns Plan einer Gesamtausgabe’, Neue Musik und Tradition: Festschrift Rudolf Stephan, ed. J. Kuckertz and others (Laaber, 1990), 501–9

ed.: Quellenstudien I: Gustav Mahler, Igor Strawinsky, Anton Webern, Frank Martin (Winterthur, 1991) [incl. ‘Webern und das SATOR-Palindrom’, 101–56]

BIBLIOGRAPHY


W. Arlt and A. Baltensperger, eds.: Festgabe für Hans Oesch (Basle, 1991) [incl. list of writings, 49–60]

T. Hirsbrunner: ‘Der gute Geist des Schatzhauses’, Dissonanz, xxxiii (1992), 23 only

D. Schaareman, ed.: Balinese Music in Context: a Sixty-Fifth Birthday Tribute to Hans Oesch (Winterthur, 1992) [incl. list of ethnomusicological writings, 347–53]

JÜRG STENZL/R


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