Harald Banter (b.1930)
Harald Banter was born Gerd von Wysocki on 16th March 1930 in Berlin, the son oE the artistic director oE the Lindstrom-Odeon Record Company. He had his own training in recording with Berlin Radio and was a composition pupil of Johannes Pranschke and Georg Haentzschel. In 1950 he became a programme producer with North West German Radio in Cologne and two years later Eounded the Harald Banter Ensemble, later the Media-Band, working principally Eor West German Radio. In 1955 he took part in the UNESCO International Music Conference at Gravesano with Hermann Scherchen and the following year gave his first jazz concert at the Cologne Gürzenich with Albert Mangelsdorff and made a joint appearance with the Modem Jazz Quartet in the Light Music Week in Stuttgart, performing Gunther Schuller"s Twelve by Eleven. He went on to take composition lessons with Bernd Alois Zimmermann and in 1957 collaborated with Hans Werner Henze in the Visconti ballet Maratona, first performed in Cologne under Hans Rosbaud. In the following years came performances of Banter"s Kantate 58 in Cologne and the ballet Diana sorpresa at the Munich Gärtnerplatz Theatre.
In the 19605 Harald Banter directed a jazz class at the Duisburg Conservatory and took part in master-courses for composition at Schloss Brühl for the Cologne Musikhochschule under the direction of Henze. There followed further work for broadcasting with Media-Band, teaching and seminars and, in 1979, activity in the editing, production and direction of music for West German Radio, with productions of work by Kurt Weill and the rediscovery of operettas by Suppe, Strauss, Millöcker and Offenbach, as weIl as of dramatic musical work by contemporary composers. The same year brought the first performance of his Concerto tor soprano saxophone and jazz orchestra, followed in 1981 by the first performance of his Amores, based on Ovid, for tenor, speaker, chorus and jazz orchestra.
In the 19805 Banter"s career continued with increasing distinction, performances and recordings with his newly founded ensemble Vier plus Sechs (Four plus Six), appointment as Vice-President of the German Composers" Union, the award in 1990 of the Silver Leaf of the Dramatic Union and of the Silver Medal of the German Composers" Union for his services to German music. In 1994 he was awarded the title Honorary Professor by the Ministry of Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Harald Banter, whose 65th birthday is celebrated in the present release, is a musician of great versatility. He had early inspiration in jazz from hearing George Shearing and was influenced by his contact with Zimmermann and collaboration with Henze. He experimented with smaller jazz ensembles, rather than big bands, collaborating with other contemporary composers and has played an important part in the activities of the German copyright agency, the Gemeinschaft für Aufführungs-und Mechanische Vervielfaltigungsrechte, GEMA. The value of his long career in broadcasting has been widely acknowledged, with 45 years of service to West German Radio as producer and editor.
The Rhapsodic Intermezzo tor piano and orchestra (Rhapsodisches Intermezzo) was written in 1948, when the composer was eighteen, and is his first concert piece. The pianist Heinz Butz, who gave the first performance of the work with the Berlin Radio Orchestra under the direction of Otto Dobrindt in 1949, was responsible for the arrangement. At this period Banter was under the influence of Grieg and Rachmaninov and of his teacher Georg Haentzschel. The present programme starts and ends with a Rhapsody, framing a career and development of same fifty years.
The Concert Suite: Märchenbilder (Fairy-Tale Pictures) was written in 1961 in a romantic-impressionist style and is essentially well-crafted entertainment music. The suite includes four movements, Der Geist in der Flasche (The Spirit in the Bottle), Die Wunschinsel (The Island of Wishes), Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain) and Der Traumkönig (The Dream King).
Prolog 2000 was written in 1972 on the occasion of a presentation by Professor Karl Steinbuch, Man and Technology in the Year 2000. In the composition the relations between man and technology today were expressed, with the understanding that for mankind technology is both progress and regress and can mean even annihilation. When the piece was written it was not yet clear in how short a time this might become true. After a chorale-like introduction by the brass comes a twelve-note series, developed next by the woodwind and altered by the cellos and double basses. A syncopated ostinato underlies the tone-row. This part is replaced by a rhythrnic quaver movement in the strings, above which the sounds of the brass in intervals of a second, stereophonical1y from left and right and diagonally across the whole orchestra, are heard. After a crescendo leading to a furioso fol1ows an electronic tape, symbolizing the technological element of our time, jet-units, turbines and computer. Through aleatoric instrumental interventions the musicians and the electronic sounds are brought together, growing denser in texture and increasing in dynamics to a climax. The tone-row appears again providing a final pianissimo catharsis.
Tod des Aktaeon (The Death of Actaeon) is from the bal1et Diana sorpresa (Diana Surprised), first staged at the Munich Gärtner-Platz Theatre in 1960. The episode has been arranged by the composer as aseparate concert-piece. Actaeon, son of the King of Thebes, saw Diana, goddess of the chase, bathing and was changed by the goddess into a stag, to be killed by her arrow.
The rhapsody for cello and orchestra, Phädra, was inspired by the cellist Maria Kliegel, who was of great assistance in the technical and musical aspects of the work. The form is in general classical. After a tutti introduction in which the whole musical material is presented in pyramid chords, the work begins with a rhythmic passage based on two motifs. This is linked to an elegy in ballade style which leads to a dynamic climax and is sirnilarly woven together from two thematic elements. There follows a short scherzo-like transition to the last furioso section which provides an opportunity for soloistic virtuosity and a final cadenza. The compositional techniques of the work involve the classical principles of part-writing and harmony as well as a twelve-note series and free tonal methods of construction, with jazz-inspired configurations and scales. The work is based on the legend of Phaedra, daughter of Minos, King of Crete, sister of Ariadne and wife of Theseus. She felt in love with her stepson Hippolytus, who repelled her advances. Fearing discovery she told her husband that Hippolytus had pursued her and Theseus, believing her, prayed Poseidon, the god of the sea, to destroy him. As Hippolytus was driving in his chariot along the coast, suddenly a bull emerged out of the sea. The horses shied and bolted, dragging hirn to his death. Phaedra killed herself.
Harald Banter (English version by Keith Anderson)