Manfred Stahnke

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Manfred Stahnke was born in Kiel, 30 October 1951. In his childhood he began to learn violin, piano, and music theory. In 1966 he started to study piano and violin at "Lübecker Musikakademie", composition / music theory in Lübeck with the director of the Musikakademie, Prof. Dr. Jens Rohwer.

1970-74 he went to Freiburg to Prof. Wolfgang Fortner, later Prof. Klaus Huber and his then-assistant Brian Ferneyhough. He began a parallel study of musicology with Prof. Dr. Hans-Heinrich Eggebrecht and others. He passed his exam in "composition&music theory" in 1973. From 1974 on he continued his studies in composition and musicology in Hamburg with Prof. György Ligeti and Prof. Dr. Constantin Floros, finishing with the PhD degree at the Hamburg University. The subject of his thesis was the Aesthetics of Pierre Boulez. 1979-80 he went to the U.S.A. to study microtonality and computermusic (first in Urbana/Champaign with Prof. Ben Johnston, Prof. John Melby and then in Stanford in a summer course with Prof. John Chowning).

Besides his work as a composer he worked from 1974 on as a piano teacher for children. Then from 1983 on he was a teacher at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, first in music theory, then also in composition, from 1995 on as a full-time professor.

Stahnke's works have a strong basis on microtonality and pulsative rhythms, also on improvisation. Among them are several operas: "The Fall of the House of Usher", "Henry the Fourth", "Orpheus Kristall", orchestra pieces and concertos: "Trace des sorciers", "Hinterhofmusick", "Danzbodnlock, Violin Symphony", "Scales of Ages, Saxophone Symphony", and a lot of chamber music.

He wrote numerous essays about many musical questions. He published several books: "Musik, nicht ohne Worte" 2000, "Mikrotöne und mehr - auf György Ligetis Hamburger Pfaden" 2005, "1001 Microtones" 2015 (together with Sarvenaz Safari), "Mein Blick auf Ligeti&Partch" 2017: a collection of his writings.

He was a lecturer and led master classes in many countries worldwide, among them in Chicago, Boston, Wellington (New Zealand), Buenos Aires, and lately Cluj, Romania 2016, Gainesville, Florida 2017, Oslo 2017. Currently he is working with aspects of a new tuning possibility for string players, in Just Intonation as well as in the "Bohlen/Pierce" scale, both as a composer and a viola player. Further he is starting a Just Intonation piano cycle.

Presently (2017) he is the chair of the music department at "Freie Akademie der Künste Hamburg".

Featured Pieces

for wo pianos tuned in quartertone distance

9 E
Instrumentation
Ordered by year. Most recent works appears first

Ensemble (10 - 19 instruments)


Cochlea Plantation for 14 solo strings (2017)

Chamber Group ( 2 - 4 instruments )


Dunkle Materie for trombone and violoncello (2016)
Ciconietta for violin and piano (2015)
String quartet V for string quartet (2015)
Koto Duo for koto and flute (2014)
Beating for three trombones (2013)
Due clavicordi per Olga for two clarichords (2012)
Asymptotics for amplified flute and E-guitar in scordatura} (2012)
Drei Schwestern for three cithers (2010)
Asymmetrischer holzschnitt for violin and violoncello (2010)
Hobo Dance for clarinet in A and harp (2009)
Flötenmaschine for two flutes and tape (2008)
Amsel trommel lied und zahl for wo pianos tuned in quartertone distance (2006)
Partota 9 for accordion and piano (2005)
String quartet IV for string quartet (2000)
Harbor Town Love at Millennium s End for trio (1994)

Choral Ensemble


Missa Brevis with Meister Eckhart for mixed choir (2016)
Mensch und Zahl for mixed choir (2009)
Calling for boy's or children's or women's choir (2003)
Giordano Brunos Himmel for mixed choir (1999)

Solo Instrument


Studie fur 19ton Trompete for 19tone trumpet (2016)
Capra 4 für Violine solo  (2013)
Diamantenpracht for solo harp (2009)
Koto solo for koto (2008)
Capra 3 für Violine solo (2006)
Ana B Chronicles for violoncello solo (2005)
Partota 10 for piano (2005)
Ansichten eines Käfers For guitar in scordatura (1998)
Capra 2 Violine solo (1996)
Partota 3 for accordion solo (1994)
Capra 1 für Violine solo in Scordatura (1987)
Partota 1 for piano (1985)

String Quartet


String quartet V for string quartet (2015)
String quartet IV for string quartet (2000)

Instrument and Electronics


Holzschnitt for quintet (2011)
Frankfurt Musicbox for ensemble (2003)
Lumpengalerie for ensemble (1998)

Orchestral Music


HinterHofMusick for orchestra (2008)
Danzbodnlock for solo violin and orchestra (2006)

Voices and Instruments


Orpheus Kristall Chamber Opera with Internet Musicians from 4 different locations (2002)
Amsel trommel lied und zahl for wo pianos tuned in quartertone distance (2006)
Ana B Chronicles for violoncello solo (2005)
Ansichten eines Käfers For guitar in scordatura (1998)
Asymmetrischer holzschnitt for violin and violoncello (2010)
Asymptotics for amplified flute and E-guitar in scordatura} (2012)
Beating for three trombones (2013)
Calling for boy's or children's or women's choir (2003)
Capra 1 für Violine solo in Scordatura (1987)
Capra 2 Violine solo (1996)
Capra 3 für Violine solo (2006)
Capra 4 für Violine solo  (2013)
Ciconietta for violin and piano (2015)
Cochlea Plantation for 14 solo strings (2017)
Danzbodnlock for solo violin and orchestra (2006)
Diamantenpracht for solo harp (2009)
Drei Schwestern for three cithers (2010)
Due clavicordi per Olga for two clarichords (2012)
Dunkle Materie for trombone and violoncello (2016)
Flötenmaschine for two flutes and tape (2008)
Frankfurt Musicbox for ensemble (2003)
Giordano Brunos Himmel for mixed choir (1999)
Harbor Town Love at Millennium s End for trio (1994)
HinterHofMusick for orchestra (2008)
Hobo Dance for clarinet in A and harp (2009)
Holzschnitt for quintet (2011)
Koto Duo for koto and flute (2014)
Koto solo for koto (2008)
Lumpengalerie for ensemble (1998)
Mensch und Zahl for mixed choir (2009)
Missa Brevis with Meister Eckhart for mixed choir (2016)
Orpheus Kristall Chamber Opera with Internet Musicians from 4 different locations (2002)
Partota 1 for piano (1985)
Partota 10 for piano (2005)
Partota 3 for accordion solo (1994)
Partota 9 for accordion and piano (2005)
String quartet IV for string quartet (2000)
String quartet V for string quartet (2015)
Studie fur 19ton Trompete for 19tone trumpet (2016)