Brian Ferneyhough

Brian Ferneyhough ( born January 16, 1943 in Coventry ( England)) is an English composer.


Ferneyhough continued studied 1961-1963 in Birmingham and from 1966 to 1967 at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Further studies were carried out at Ton de Leeuw in Amsterdam and Klaus Huber at the Music Academy of Basel. He has taught since 1973 as a lecturer and assistant to Klaus Huber since 1978 as a professor at Freiburg University of Music, since 1987 the University of San Diego ( California ) and since 2000 at Stanford University.

"His first compositions date from 1963, but only at the Festival of Royan he asserts itself as the most inventive and most powerful composer of his generation that follows those of Pousseur, Boulez, Stockhausen and Xenakis. " ( von der Weid 2001)

Ferneyhough is known that he is in his compositions to the performer the highest possible technical game requirements.

On 3 May 2007 Ferneyhough was awarded the 2007 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, together with a prize money of 200,000 euros.

Selected Works


The music Ferneyhough would not have to write down different. You will not be drawn on the Approximate graphical notations is, much less vertrüge a leveling of sharp rhythmic, color or gestural edges. Anyone who Ferneyhough when attempting to clarify his music vividly, listening to the had to notice that this composer thinks complex from all natural interior. His music is by no means a speculative patch, but a genuinely own. If he suggests a passage about singing, then we hear the distinct set blurs the unconditional forced to this notation, [ ... ]. His music comes not just from the head but from a spiritual and sensual whole. Ferneyhough's music [ ... ] is a counter-proposal to the dulling of our senses, as it dictates the presence relentless than ever with their distraction and entertainment mechanisms.

Ferneyhough 's obsession with " model " creation itself, necessarily results in the construction of a replacement metaphysics, a replacement universe of the artist, and primarily reflects the arbitrary flights of his ego.

The name of Brian Ferneyhough, who was the most prominent export in the heartland of modernity in Europe in the 1970s in England and in the eighties a reputation as a spiritual leader of the "new complexity" consolidated seems even today to be a term for the best but also a worst unweichenden loyalty to the extreme musical modernism.

[ ... ] Ferneyhough risks appeared at times too large; his compositional solutions failed the expectations of its exploratory diagnosis of the problems to be justified, he confidently and well - articulated formulated - as an extremely electrifying speaker.

Brian Ferneyhough is one of the last of this school of people who take rather simple arithmetic ideas, than to deal with the score - we call writing board composers. Their forum is only in the classroom; talk about the music.

[ ... ] Brian Ferneyhough's Time and Motion Study II, for example. Here seems to be the main purpose, to be an exhaustive study of the extent to which the interpreter can be driven by noise and impossible instrumentation before it is destroyed and collapses. In this sense, it is an ugly and dehumanizing piece. It is exemplary of the kind, extent to which the relationship Composer can be driven & musicians, and is the antithesis of the aspirations associated with the contemporary improvised music; but ( to my annoyance ) acquire such pieces [ of Ferneyhough ] usually stronger credibility as " works of art ". - Eddie Prévost

Primary literature

  • Ferneyhough, Brian: shape, figure, style - a preliminary assessment in music and texts 37, Köln 1990

Secondary literature

  • Jean -Noel von der Weid: The music of the 20th century. Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig 2001, pp. 581 - 598 ISBN 345817068-5