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Vladimir Hirsch (born July 3, 1954, Czechoslovakia, today Czechia) is an avant-garde composer, instrumentalist and sound experimenter, integrating contemporary classical, industrial and dark ambient music. His compositional style is characterized by poly-modal and poly-microtonal architectonics, the usage of a wide range of modern technologies to enhance sonic means of expression. Besides creating solo works, he is the founding member and leader of Skrol, Aghiatrias and various other projects (e.g. Zygote, Luminar Ax and Tiria). His music is marked by a dark, tense and tempestuous atmosphere. Between 1986 and 1995 he was a member of experimental post-punk group Der Marabu. The music crosses over from experimental manipulations to unambiguous strictness in composition which is marked by an evocative atmosphere enriched by conceptual themes ranging from metaphysics and spirituality to anxiety. Including his conjoint projects, to date his portfolio contains around 90 opuses and over 50 released albums.
What is your earliest musical memory that, in looking back, has proved to be significant regarding your career as a composer?
It is unforgettable – it was Beethoven’s 5th symphony. I listened to it for the first time in my early childhood, it was an absolutely different experience in comparison with other stuff I used to listen to, which made an immense impact. I returned back to it again and again. From that time, I started to dream of making music.
Are there composers who have been influential or relevant regarding your own work? Has this changed over time?
Of course my influences have changed over time. It was a long process to find my own way of artistic expression. At the beginning, I was influenced by classical music of the 19th century, but very soon I was caught by modernism of the first half of the 20th century; predominantly by Czech and other Slavic music, mainly by Leoš Janáček and Igor Stravinsky. The substantial change came in the end of the ‘80’s, when I was introduced to the music of some innovative composers from the second half of the 20th century; above all the music of Miloslav Kabeláč, Giacinto Scelsi, Alfred Schnittke, Iannis Xenakis and György Ligeti. The ‘80’s also brought No-Wave rock and I discovered industrial music during that time, bands like Swans and SPK have made a lasting impression on me. Let me just make a side note, these influences can be considered only an inspiration. From the beginning, I was always searching for some new ways in creation, being simultaneously active in some alternative rock and jazz music.
Would you mind speaking a little concerning your working process, i.e., do you have a regular schedule for writing; do you use a computer for composing (either for creating pre-composition materials or notation), if so, do you find that it inhibits your process? What other technology, if any, do you use?
My work uses everyday sounds from the environment as well as sampled instruments, together with actual instruments played and the computer is my main musical instrument for a very long time. I call my techniques “integrated music”, which can be characterized in a simplified way as an effort to break the borders between primarily musical and non-musical elements in composition and instrumentation, transformed into a homogeneous indivisible structure using a system of technological manipulation and the enhancement of their expressive properties. Symbolically, it is an expression of the collision and reconciliation of two seemingly spiritually opposite worlds inside an individual.
Please describe a recent work and provide a link to an audio clip.
Currently I am working on a new album Heptalogue, which is almost finished and the release is planned for late spring, 2014. I cannot share anything from the album yet. It is a conceptual work on the theme of “Seven Deadly Sins,” which started out as collage cycle by the visual artist Marianna Auster. The album is a communication between visual and musical expression, some sort of synesthesia.
A lot of my sold-out or unpublished work can be found online. As a preview I recommend Amorpheia in original version.
3 thoughts on “Composer Profile: Vladimir Hirsch”
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This interview, short but complete, a good prelude to keep on searching more about this extraordinary composer and musician!