Anthony Plog on Music

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Jörg Widmann, World Recognized Composer, Clarinetist, and Conductor

Anthony Plog, host
Eddie Ludema, producer

Date posted: May 30, 2023

Jörg Widmann is one of the most versatile and fascinating classical artists in the world today. He is one of the world's most recognized modern composers, with premiers by major orchestras around the world. He has also appeared as a clarinet soloist with many of the world's top ensembles. As a conductor, he was the Music Director of the Irish Chamber Orchestra for ten years. His body of work is amazing, so I wanted to find out... how has he been able to accomplish so much in such a short time? He was gracious enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to speak with me.

Part 1

A defining quality for Jörg is his curiosity. He talks about how this curiousity began in his childhood. While discussing his curiosity and studies at Juilliard, we fall into the subject of German vs. French clarinet systems. We then use three pieces to discuss in depth how he approaches composition: His massive oratorio ARCHE, his Ad Absurdum, written for trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov, and finally, the Trumpet Concerto he wrote for Håkan Hardenberger. Jörg also talks about the similarities in his mind between Miles Davis and Pierre Boulez.

Part 2

In Part 2, we continue our discussion about composition, including aspects such as revision, notation, writing in bursts rather than with a regular schedule (and why composing for very long hours is a joy), separating composing from clarinet and conducting, dealing with being writer's block, and working with Pierre Boulez. We end Part 2 by talking about his conducting career... how he got started, and his work with the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

Bonus Room

Jörg Widmann is also recognized as an internationally acclaimed clarinet soloist, so we begin the Bonus Room by talking about that aspect of his career. We also discuss further how he balances his schedule between composing, clarinet, and conducting (spoiler alert... he really doesn't!), and then we talking about a number of different subjects, such as different national styles of composing, poetry and literature, and performing on period instruments. We conclude our discussion by going back to the beginning of it... combining curiosity with doubt, as they both can point to the future.

The podcast theme music, Four Sierra Scenes, written by Anthony Plog, is taken from Crystal Records S205, copyright ©1980 Crystal Records Inc., and is used by permission. Unauthorized duplication is not permitted.