Off the Richter scale: composing an eight-hour lullaby

Posted on: June 19, 2015

“For those who have ever worried about drifting off during a classical concert, composer Max Richter has created a piece specifically for that purpose,” writes Jonathan McAloon in Wednesday’s (6/17) Telegraph (U.K.). “Sleep, an eight-hour piece which the German-born British composer calls a ‘lullaby for a frenetic world,’ will premier in Berlin this September. The overnight performance will go on from midnight to 8am, with audience members in beds rather than seats. It is … scored for piano, strings, vocals and electronics. Richter, 49, intends the work to be heard ‘while sleeping.’ The composer consulted American neuroscientist David Eagleman, whose book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives Richter made into a chamber opera in 2011, to learn about human brain function. ‘It’s really an experiment to try and understand how we experience music in different states of consciousness,’ says Richter.… Richter is a ‘neo-classical’ composer, drawing on techniques and styles from the past rather than taking after modern schools of composition such as Minimalism. His reinterpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons became a best-selling CD in 2012.” The article lists “the five wackiest pieces of classical music ever,” with video clips ranging from Mozart’s Musical Joke to Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet.

Posted June 19, 2015