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Leon Schidlowsky

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Leon Schidlowsky

Leon Schidlowsky (graphic notation. His compositions have been performed in numerous countries with different orchestras under conductors such as Aldo Ceccato, Errico Fresis, Clytus Gottwald, Robin Griton, Juan Pablo Izquierdo, Erhard Karkoschka, Herbert Kegel, Lukas Foss, Zubin Mehta, Hermann Scherchen, Ingo Schulz and Klaus Vetter. The scores of his graphic music have been shown in various exhibitions linked to concerts, such as in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Kunsthaus Hamburg, the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen, and the Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken.


Schidlowsky pursued his secondary studies at the Instituto Nacional de Chile in Santiago from 1940–47 and studied the piano with Roberto Duncker at the Conservatorio Nacional de Chile in Santiago from 1942-48. He later studied composition with Juan Allende-Blin and Fré Focke, as well as philosophy and psychology at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago from 1948-51. He completed his studies in Germany at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie (later Hochschule für Musik Detmold) in Detmold, where he met his future wife Susanne, whom he married in 1953. They had five children (David, Elias, Judith, and twins Yuval and Noam).

Chile (1954-1968; 2014)

After his return to Chile in 1954 Leon Schidlowsky became a member of the avant-garde ensemble Grupo Tonus in Santiago and served as its director from 1958–61. This ensemble wanted to spread avant-garde and contemporary music in Chile. In 1956 Schidlowsky produced "Nacimiento", considered the first electroacoustic work composed in Latin America. Between 1956 and 1959 he was member of the British Council and between 1956 and 1961 a musical adviser of the pantomime ensemble Grupo Noisvander. He served as director of the music library at the Instituto de Extensión Musical, of the Universidad de Chile (Chilean University) in 1961-62, and as secretary-general of the Asociación Nacional de Compositores from 1961-63. He also served as director-general of the Instituto de Extensión Musical, Universidad de Chile, from 1962-66. In this period the Institute achieved distinction, with the performance of music that had never been played in Chile before, and with the performance of at least one work by a Chilean composer every year. Besides that, a number of orchestral conductors, soloists, and foreign orchestras visited Chile and made a substantial contribution to the musical culture of the country. In 1964 he was, together with Luigi Dallapiccola and Alberto Ginastera, a member of the jury in a composers' competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The same year he took part in the music symposium "Latin America and the music of our time" (América Latina y la música de nuestros tiempos) in Lima, Peru. In 1965, Schidlowsky was appointed Professor of Composition at the Conservatorio Nacional, Universidad de Chile (Chilean University). In 1966 he participated in the Inter-American Festival in Washington, D.C., USA, as well as the Festival Interamericano de Música in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1967, he took part in the Festival of Music from Spain and Latin America, in Madrid, Spain. He participated in the "Festival of the Three Worlds" in Mérida, Venezuela in 1968, with lectures and discussions with the composers Krzyztof Penderecki and Luigi Nono. The city of Mérida nominated him a "Distinguished Guest of the City". In the same year he received a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in order to write an opera, which he completed in Germany. On the 21st of August Leon Schidlowsky was awarded the Chilean Premio Nacional de Música 2014, accompanied by several homages, press articles and interviews in the local press.


In 1969, he was appointed Professor for Composition and Music Theory at the Samuel Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. In 1979 he was granted a Sabbatical Year, which he spent in Hamburg. He has given many conferences in Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart (Germany), Vienna (Austria), Lund (Sweden), and Saragossa (Spain). Schidlowsky received several fellowships from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and stayed in Berlin for various periods, where he composed and painted. During one of these sojourns, in 1999, his wife Susanne died; she was buried in Tel Aviv. Leon Schidlowsky received various prizes for his music, such as at the regular Festivals of Chilean Music (Festivales de Música Chilena), with works of his being awarded the Chilean Prize CRAV. In 1996 he received the First Prize for his work Absalom in the 60th anniversary competition of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2000 he was awarded the ACUM Prize for his entire oeuvre by the Israel Composers Association. In the following year, during a visit to Chile, the Chilean Chamber Orchestra declared him an Honorary Member, the Universidad de Chile appointed him an Honorary Professor in its Arts Faculty, and the Chilean Ministry of Education conferred on him the "Orden al Mérito Docente y Cultural Gabriela Mistral" with the rank of "Caballero". He received the Engel Prize for his original work and his research into Jewish music, awarded by the city of Tel Aviv in June 2007. Leon Schidlowsky has given courses in composition in several countries; and he has helped to form and influence a whole generation of composers in Israel, like Avraham Amzallag, Chaya Arbel, John Bostock, Mary Even-Or, Rachel Galinne, Betty Olivero, Jan Radzynski, Ruben Seroussi, Ron Weidberg, Moshe Zorman.


Many of his works make reference to his Jewish-Israeli identity and to the history of the Jewish people, as well as to his interest in history and the political and social situation in Chile and Latin America. There is also in his works a musical response to his personal life and experience, such as the death of his wife Susanne (1999) and his son Elias (2004), or the destiny of many personal and professional friends, or personalities of his time. As an admirer of Arnold Schönberg´s music, Schidlowsky began his career as a composer in the tradition of the Second Viennese School. Later he began to use serial techniques, and to experiment with various tonal concepts (atonal, aleatoric, graphic notation), but always on the understanding that music has a deeper significance which transcends absolute art, which can open up a path for a human being to find a way to himself (Schidlowsky: "Art itself has not only one meaning. It includes and encompasses all senses, questions and all answers. I think that art is a way to us."). Leon Schidlowsky has written dramatic and vivid works. Examples:[1]

  • Caupolicán, [(text by Pablo Neruda), speaker, mixed chorus, 2 pianos, 6 percussion]
  • Tríptico, [orchestra]
  • Kristallnacht, [(text: fragment from a traditional Jewish prayer), tenor, male chorus, orchestra]
  • Invocation, [(text by the composer), soprano, speaker, orchestra]
  • Llaqui, [(text by Javier Heraud), speaker, orchestra]
  • New York, [orchestra]
  • Epitafio para Hermann Scherchen, [orchestra]
  • Amereida, [1: Llaqui [(text by Javier Heraud), speaker, orchestra; 2: Memento (text by Javier Heraud), soprano, orchestra; 3: Ecce Homo (text after fragments of Che Guevara), sopran, orchestra, 1969]
  • In Eius Memoriam, [orchestra]
  • Amerindia, [1: Preludio, orchestra; 2: Los heraldos negros (text by César Vallejo), speaker, orchestra; 3: Sacsahuamán, orchestra; 4: Era el crepúsculo de la iguana (text by Pablo Neruda), speaker, orchestra; 5: Yo vengo a hablar (text by Pablo Neruda), speaker, orchestra]
  • Missa in Nomine Bach, [(text from the Mass), mixed chorus, ensemble (8 players)]
  • Nacht, [(text by the composer), mixed chorus]
  • Lux in Tenebris, [orchestra]
  • In memoriam Luigi Nono, [viola, cello, double bass]
  • Arabesque, [Traversflute]
  • Silvestre Revueltas, [(text by Pablo Neruda), speaker, chamber ensemble]
  • Prelude to a Drama, [orchestra]
  • Absalom, [orchestra]
  • Three Dialogues, [2 violins]
  • Serenata, [mandolin solo]
  • In memoriam Jorge Peña, [(text by the composer), speaker, orchestra]
  • And death shall have no dominion, [orchestra]
  • Job, [orchestra]
  • L´inferno, [orchestra]
  • Partita, [for Cello]
  • In memoriam György Ligeti, [orchestra]
  • Nocturno, [(Text: Pablo Neruda), Narrator and Orchestra]
  • Soledad, [(Text: Quechua in Spanish), for voice, oboe, horn, cello]
  • Lautaro, [(Text: Pablo Neruda), Narrator and Orchestra]

Examples from his graphic notation music:

  • Kolot, [harp]
  • Trigon, [violin (viola), cello, piano]
  • Actions for Piano, [piano]
  • Vera la morte, [(text by Cesare Pavese), voice, percussion]
  • Hommage to Picasso [(text by Gertrude Stein), voice]
  • Tetralog, [1. Music for Piano and Winds; 2: Music for Piano and Strings; 3: Music for Piano and Percussion; 4: Music for Piano and Voice]
  • Dadayamasong [(text by Franz Mehring), soprano, saxophone, piano, percussion]
  • Missa Sine Nomine (In Memoriam Vladimir Mayakovsky), 36 mixed voices; 9: Dona nobis pacem, large mixed chorus; 10: Babel (text from the Bible), 6 sopranos, 6 altos, 4 tenors, 4 basses; 11: Epilog (text from the Bible), speaker, small mixed chorus, large mixed chorus, organ, 4 percussion]
  • Palindrom, [female chorus]
  • Am Grab Kafkas, [(text by Franz Kafka), female voice (+ crotales)]
  • Greise sind die Sterne geworden, [(texts by Else Lasker-Schüler, Mascha Kaléko, Erich Fried, Novalis, the Bible), soprano, alto, baritone, speaker, mixed chorus, piano, organ, harpsichord, celesta, 3 percussion]
  • Deutschland ein Wintermärchen, [for Choir, Speaker, Soloist, Piano, and percussion ensemble]

Among his numerous works, three operas stand out:

  • Die Menschen, [4 act opera, libretto by the composer, after Walter Hasenclever]
  • Der Dybbuk, [3 act opera, libretto by the composer, after S. Ansky]
  • Before Breakfast, [1 act opera, libretto by the composer, after Eugene O'Neill]


  1. ^ A full list of his works can be found at


  • Fugellie Videla, Daniela: „La música gráfica de León Schidlowsky: Deutschland ein Wintermärchen (1979) como partitura multimedial“. In: Revista Musical Chilena. Año LXVI, Número 218, Santiago de Chile, julio-diciembre 2012.
  • David Schidlowsky [Editor]: „Gráfica musical. León Schidlowsky“. RiL editores Santiago de Chile 2012 - ISBN 978-956-284-876-3.
  • David Schidlowsky [Hg./Ed.]: „musikalische Grafik - graphic music. León Schidlowsky“. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Berlin, Berlin 2011 - ISBN 978-3-86573-620-8.
  • Rüdiger, Wolfgang: „Was wollen wir bauen? Leon Schidlowsky: ´Am Grab Kafkas` für Stimmen und Crotales“. In: Stoll, Rolf (Ed.): „Teamwork! Sprache, Bild, Bewegung, Szene: neue Musik für Schülerensemble“. Musik und Bildung Spezial. Praxis Unterricht. Schott Verlag, Mainz 2004.
  • Fresis, Errico: „Zwischen Berger und Meer. Der Komponist Leon Schidlowsky“. In: Neue Musikzeitung, H. 9, Regensburg 2001.
  • Traber, Habakuk: „Schidlowsky, Leon: misa sine nomine“. In: Forum Kirchenmusik, 3, Templin, Deutschland 1999.
  • Kube, Michael: „„Schidlowsky, Leon: misa sine nomine“. In: Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 3, Mainz 1999.
  • Lutzky, Z.: “Leon Schidlowsky: Portrait of a Composer as a Rebel”. In: Israel Music Institute News, 91/3, Tel Aviv 1991.
  • Cohen, Y. W.: “Neimej smiroth Israel”. Tel Aviv 1990, 236-243.
  • Maur, Karin von: „Thema Musik – Malerei – Musikalische Graphic“. In: Katalog zur Ausstellung Leon Schidlowsky Musikalische Graphik. Staatsgalerie Stuttgar 1979.
  • Karkoschka, Erhard: „Zu musikalische Graphik und Leon Schidlowsky´s einschlägigen Arbeiten“. In: Katalog zur Ausstellung Leon Schidlowsky Musikalische Graphik. Staatsgalerie Stuttgar 1979.
  • Leon Schidlowsky Musikalische Graphic. Katalog zur Ausstellung, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart 1979
  • Karkoschka, Erhard: "Leon Schidlowsky's "DADAYAmasONG". Eine musikalische Graphik und ihre Interpretation“. In: Göllner, Theodor (ed.): Notenschrift und Aufführung. Symposium zur Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung 1977 in München. Tutzing (Hans SchneiderVerlag), 1980. Part of a series: Münchner Veröffentlichungen zur Musikgeschichte Bd. 30
  • Grebe, María Ester: "León Schidlowsky Gaete. Síntesis de su trayectoria creativa (1952-1968)" in: Revista Musical Chilena 22, H. 104/105, 7-52, Santiago de Chile 1968.
  • Compositores de América/Composers of the Americas, Editor: The Pan American Union, Vol. 10, Washington DC 1965.


  • León Schidlowsky: "Obras sinfónicas". Compositores chilenos Vol. 4. Academia Chilena de Bellas Artes. Santiago de Chile 2013. CD 7126709014223
  • "Leon Schidlowsky zum 75. Geburtstag. Werke von 1952 bis 2005. Live-Aufnahmen aus Emmaus-Kirche, Berlin-Kreuzberg, 23/24.9.200 und 16/17.9.2006". musikart Ingo Schulz, CD 4260031182342
  • "Leon Schidlowsky: Greise sind die Sterne geworden. Eine moderne Passion. Mitschnitt der Uraufführung vom 25.3.2000". Musikart Ingo Schulz, CD 4012831190634
  • "Leon Schidlowsky: Misa sine nomine. Konzertmitschnitt vom 12. Septerber 1998". CD 4012831190436

External links

  • Homepage of Leon Schidlowsky
  • Leon Schidlowsky by the IMI
  • Leon Schidlowsky by Schott
  • Leon Schidlowsky by Emmaus
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