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Volker Bräutigam (Composer, Organ, Conductor)

Born: 1939 - Frohnau, Erzgebirgein, Germany

The German composer, organist and conductor, Volker Bräutigam, was a chorister in the Dresdner Kreuzchor under the Kreuzkantor Rudolf Mauersberger, and came in intense contact with 20th Century Choral Music and traditional church music. The impressions and experiences as a chorister were instrumental in his musical development. The major components of the church music revival of the time (the music of Siegfried Reda (1916-1968), Ernst Pepping (1901-1981) and Johann Nepomuk David (1895-1977)) were, for him, forming. A short time later he became fascinated with the music of Anton Webern.

Volker Bräutigam studied Church Music and Composition at the Leipzig Musikhochschule from 1957 to 1962. Directly following he held assistantships in both subjects. He was deeply influenced by his professor Johannes Weyrauch (1897-1977). During his studies he discovered the music of O. Messiaen and Frédéric Chopin. The organ works of Messiaen has been and still is for him an intense area of interest. He was the first Leipzig student to accept the task of promoting Messiaen's music, despite the difficulties the GDR regime made to all those who tried to promote any music “against the state".

Following his studies Volker Bräutigam was Organist and Choirmaster of Leipzig's Heilands church. There he remained for over 30 years. In addition, he had an extensive career as concert organist, taking him to most European countries, Japan and the USA. His speciality was and is Contemporary Organ Music, the music with which he inspires his audiences. His thorough knowledge as organist and composer is passed on to the younger generation of musicians. Since 1980 he was an adjunct teacher at the Leipzig Musikhochschule and since 1981 at the Hochschule für Kirchenmusik in Halle an der Saale. In 1993 he was named professor.

Above and beyond that, Volker Bräutigam is always a creator who constantly learns. He labels himself, even today, as a self-educated person, and his compositions are in no way limited to sacred music. Among other things, he was a freelance worker at the DEFA Cartoon Production where he set poems by Nelly Sachs (1975) to music. The criteria of the contracts he received from the state to include no sacred content were elegantly by-passed, as illustrated by the organ piece Epitaph für Maksymilian Kolbe, which appeared 1975 in memory of the Polish priest and fighter against Fascist Politics.

Volker Bräutigam 's music draws not only from the modern epoch; his impulses and models include early polyphony and renaissance choral music. He depicts himself as an advocate of the contemporary church music revival - a movement that blossomed in the mid-20th Century and today is critically viewed. The essence of the revival lies, however, not in the destruction of the past works, rather the awareness of the tradition. He has remained loyal to this opinion. Even in his advanced works he never completely abandons the frame of tonality. An important aspect he received from Johannes Weyrauch is the idea that tones possess an inherent meaning. The basis of his compositions is the sacred aspect of the music. Even when the aspect is subtle it is always present; thus, a music reflecting the entire creation resounding to praise its creator.

Source: Liner notes to the 2-CD album ‘J.S. Bach: Markus-Passion BWV 247’ conducted by David Timm & Volker Bräutigam (Raum-Klang, 2004), written by Michael F. Runowski, English translation by Craig F. Humber
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2004)

Volker Bräutigam: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




David Timm & Volker Bräutigam

Composer & Choir Conductor

BWV 247

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