The German composer Detlev Glanert gained renown in his own country as an opera specialist, and has gone on to make a name for himself internationally with his chamber and orchestral works. He has written fourteen operas to date, each with a strong visual element and drawing inspiration from politics to science fiction. Since 2011, he has been a composer in residence at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and has produced works for this orchestra such as Theatrum Bestiarum (2004-5), Insomnium (2009-10) and Frenesia (2013). He writes “music you can almost touch”, exhilarating and sometimes frenetic explorations that nevertheless communicate easily to the audience.
Glanert recalls becoming fascinated by printed music as a very young child – what were these notes on the page, and how would they sound? From the age of ten, he was writing reams of notes, something that is still central to his style today. At sixteen, he was encouraged by his mentor, the composer Manfred Trojahn, to find a ‘master’ in the old-fashioned sense of the word. His father was initially against this step, worrying that his son would have no earning prospects, and would have to steal or starve. Happily he let Glanert continue on his vocation.
Glanert chose to study with Hans Werner Henze in Cologne, and was his student for four years. He chose Henze due to his love of opera, his affinity with Romanticism, and his deep respect for the past. His early musical philosophy was honed by extended conversation and long walks with his teacher, discussing opera. During these formative years, Glanert also studied with Diether de la Motte, Günter Friedrichs and Frank Michael Beyer, as well as with Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood Summer Music Festival in 1986.