His first scores were received with warm interest. A progressive Professor at a Music Academy said of Wittinger's Symphony No. 1, dedicated to Arthur Honegger, that it was "absolutely perfect from the point of view of tomposition technique". After a difficult first period, 1957 brought four first performances.
Michael Gielen was one of the first musicians to take up Wittinger. He received two impressive commissions in 1968: for the Donaueschingen Music Festival and for the Darmstadt Holiday Course. He completed five new scores in 1969. 1970 brought another five first performances, one of which was in Darmstadt.
This meant that Wittinger had become one of the most sought-after young composers in Germany. He had achieved this with twenty compositions in only eight years. Wittinger's musical language is one of balanced contrasts. Thus taste, elegance, stylization, and - in keeping with the basic principle of balance - the proportionment of the sections of each work, in other words, what is normally called musical form, take on a dominant role. Primarily, in contrast to Gyorgy Ligeti, Wittinger is not inrerested in the problems of the smallest transition, or in bursting the bounds of form or of absolute musical material, in social or political effects, or even in the musical powers of language.
It mi ht be said that he has specialized by limiting his interest to all tiat sounds, and this would to a large extent also explain his rapid success. Like other forms of specialization - as for example, pure scientific specialization - it has, depending on the point of view, the advantage or disadvantage of being amenable to integration in existing conditions and institutions almost without conflict. Wittinger does not experiment, not even with pure tonal material. This, however, does not mean that he does not take up and integrate in his music the results of other people's thoughts and experiments.
But he is not interested in attempting the absolute, in investigating consequences, or in the limits of applicability. To combine contrasting or apparently independent elements with one another is a question of compositorial tolerances, compensations, and tendencies for Wittinger - and this is the direct implication of such titles as "tolleranza", "compensazioni", and "tendenze". The composition techniques which Wittinger primarily uses in this connection are functional cause and effect, substitution, and inversion, and asymmetric proportions or periods. This is nothing new. These techniques are to be found fully developed in Wagner, Mahler, and also Schoenberg.
In Wittinger's music the periods and quasi-periods are shorter and more intertwined. Such functional relationships are dependent on a subtle feeling for sound, and a precise knowledge of instrumental capacity: Wittinger possesses both of these qualities in abundance - to such an extent, indeed, that some consider that thcy form the basis of his talent. But he never allows himself to be carried away by his feeling for sound. His stylization principle does lead him to not scarch directly for new tone colour, but enables him to make use of existing ones. In this way Wittinger's amazing talent has collected a comprehensive palette of sound in a very short time.
There was a constant cry in the sixties for the establishment of syntax and vocabulary in New Music - a then unfulfilled yearning of the Classicists which Wittinger has in the meantime fulfilled. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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