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Elke Mascha Blankenburg (Conductor)

Born: 1943 - Germany

The German conductor, Elke Mascha Blankenburg, began to receive piano instruction with her mother Anneliese Feldmeyer, when she was 6 years old. Violin was added and ballet was her biggest passion. As choir singer in various choirs and a violinist in the Heidelberger Universitätsorchester she gained her first experience in music performance. In 1963 she studied church music, choir and orchestra conducting at the Musikhochschule in Heidelberg, Schlüchtern and Köln, as well as with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna. During her studies she composed stage music for the for the Heidelberger Zimmertheater, was a singer in band and wrote music criticisms for press and broadcast. With the international master-classes for conductors she was always selected for the conductor of the public conclusion concert of these courses.

In 1970 Elke Mascha Blankenburg went to Köln, and was for 20 years active as a church musician at the Christuskirche Köln-Dellbrück. Here she created the choir Kölner Kurrende, which she brought within fewer years to a high performance level, and with which she became prize-winner of national and international choir competitions. She conducted on the jewels of the a-capella-literature and the big oratorios of Bach, Händel, Mozart, Brahms, Dvorák, Verdi, and Orff beside and others, and made guest appearances in the FRG and abroad in other European countries. Tours led her to France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Estland, Lettland, Litauen, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Since the inauguration of the Kölner Philharmonie in 1986 with Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 she appeared regularly as a guest at this house until 1999.

In 1978 took place in Köln the "international working group woman and music" (today seat in Kassel) in the life, with the goal, works of woman composers from past and present. Elke Mascha Blankenburg led this working group until 1981. In 1980 she organised as an artistic director the first "international woman-composers festival" Bonn/Köln, which brought works from all eras to performance and released an international press echo. Here she co-operated with the Kölner Oper (Director: Andrea von Ramm) the first opera, which was composed by a woman: La liberazione di Ruggiero by Francesca Caccini (1587-1640)), who was main composer of the Medici in Florence: a re-performance after 355 years.

In 1981 Elke Mascha Blankenburg created the Leonarda Ensemble Köln, a soloist ensemble, with which she predominantly brought vocal works from Renaissance and Baroque by woman-composers to the premiere, and was invited to give concerts in her homeland and abroad (such as the Kammermusiksaal of the Berliner Philharmonie) and to festivals (such as Bratislava Cantans in Poland). A high musical point was the premiere in 1984 of Oratorium nach Bildern der Bibel by Fanny Mendelssohn.

In 1986 Elke Mascha Blankenburg created the Clara Schumann Orchester Köln, the only professional woman symphony orchestra of the FRG (under the patronage of Anke Brunn, the minister for science and research of North-Rhine/Westphalia), with which she performed works of woman composers of the Classical, Romantic and Modern periods. Radio and TV productions documented this work. In 1987 she began artistic co-operation with the city Unna. She organised the 1st International woman composers festival of the city Unna and created the Fanny Mendelssohn competition, which takes place since then every two years for woman composers.

In 1988 Elke Mascha Blankenburg was appointed by the Landesmusikrat Niedersachsen as director of the national youth choir. She made concert tours to Switzerland and the FRG with Gabriel Fauré's Requiem and Lili Boulanger's Vieille Prière Bouddhique. In 1989 she was appointed as the city musician of Unna. In this year she created the "international composer interior library of the city Unna" and put also over 1000 compositions the basic stick for the library, which is attached today by the MHS Dortmund. In the same year she led there the 2nd International woman composers festival.

In 1990 Elke Mascha Blankenburg terminated her employee relationship as a church musician. Since then she worked as free conductor (choir and orchestra) and appeared as a guest with German and foreign symphony orchestras. In 1991 she was appointed by the Minister for education and science as the artistic chief of the research project "musicians in the FRG" (old and new Lands of the Federal Republic) and accomplished symposiums about "women and music" and "the situation of orchestra musicians and conductor inside in the FRG" at the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin and at the Hochschule für Musik in Köln. Apart from her activity as conductor, she appeared repeatedly with great pleasure as an interpreter of Chansons by Brecht, Holländer und Tucholsky.

In 1995 Elke Mascha Blankenburg created with Gabriella Pallenberg the Orchestra Clara Schumann Roma, a sister orchestra to the German CSO Köln, which consists likewise exclusively of professional musicians, and whose concerts were noted by Italian TV radio stations. In 1996 she established and became artistic director of the Accademia Musicale Europea Francesca Caccini in Rome.

LP and CD productions, radio and television productions with German and foreign stations document the variety of Elke Mascha Blankenburg's repertoire. In 1999 she was given Order of Merit for her artistic achievement and music-scientific research work by Federal President Roman Herzog. She lives in Germany and Italy and works also as publisher and referee and develops the Internationale Dirigentinnen-Archiv-Köln (International conductor interior's archives Köln = IDAK). Since 2002 she is accompanying guest Professor for choir directing at the Conservatorio di Musica in Frosinone/Italy. In March 2003 she appeared in the book Dirigentinnen im 20. Jahrhundert published by Europäischen Verlagsanstalt in Hamburg.



Source: Elke Mascha Blankenburg Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2005); Ruud Janssen (February 2006)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2005)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

Conductor

As

Works

Elke Mascha Blankenburg

Conductor

BWV 232

Links to other Sites

Elke Mascha Blankenburg Home Page [German]

Elke Mascha Blankenburg (Perlentaucher.de, Kultur und Literatur) [German]
Die Zeit - Chancen: Maestra gesucht [German]

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Last update: ęDecember 9, 2013 ę09:23:33