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Constellations I

Composer: Maximilian Wolfgang Schwarz

Instrument: Marimba

Level: Advanced

Published: 2021

Price: €20.00

Item details

  • Description +
    • Duration: approx. 5 min.

      When composing “Constellations I”, I first started to search for interesting new sounds to create on any marimba’s corpus, regardless of its design of construction. While experimenting with different mallets, I also came across a new concept of mallet arrangement. By using a high contrast in hardness in only one pair and mirroring it to the other hand, I could now play both the percussive sounds (which require a very transparent attack) and the marimba plates with both hands, or simultaneously in one hand.   

      The piece consists of multiple parts, exploring possibilities of incorporating a “set-up approach” to the instrument. Each part emerges out of a different composing technique, including free atonality, bitonality, serial music or classical harmony, forged together by a pressing atmosphere as well as “rhythmical cadenzas”, guiding to new polyrhythms or rhythm shifts. In the end, the piece resolves in a reharmonized reprise of the intro, using lighter sound effects generated by hands and body to create an echo-like character. 

      After playing the finished composition to my girlfriend, she visualised the piece as an image of a “technical drawing”, which eventually inspired me to come up with the name “Constellations”. The roman letter I foreshadows the possibility of a potential “answer” to this work.

  • Instrumentation +
    • Marimba

  • Watch+
    • Constellations I by Maximilian Wolfgang Schwarz

  • About the composer +
    • Maximilian Wolfgang Schwarz was born in Vienna in 1997. At the age of 5, he started playing the drums with his first teacher in Geneva. Two years later the family moved to Bielefeld, where he widened his musical horizon at the local “Musik- und Kunstschule” learning classical percussion. He played in many bands and won multiple awards competing in classical competitions. Between 2015 and 2020 he studied “Drums and Percussion pop-/worldmusic with classical music” at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock with Prof. Dietrich Wöhrlin, Jan-Frederick Behrend, Torsten Schönfeld and Prof. Henrik Magnus Schmidt. There he gained skills in classical composition, which he fusions with his activity as a producer of electronic music in a cutting-edge manner. Since 2020 he concentrates his studies on classical percussion.   

      He gained further inspiration attending diverse masterclasses and joining the stage with international top artists including Benny Greb, Zoro The Drummer, Robby Ameen and Alexej Gerassimez. During multiple days of workshop with Grammy-award winning bandoneon luminary Raul Jaurena, he gained deep insight into Latin music.   

      Since 2016 he also composes for film, classical music and avantgarde-pop. The sonatas “Tricolon for Solo Percussion” and “Transition Void I-III” could be named as some of his most important works. Max Schwarz is co-founder and drummer of the neurofunk/postrock band CozmicRip (since 2016) and of the contemporary classical/electronica trio maTrigal (since 2019). After passing his classical final exam with distinction (2019), partly for his interpretation of Keiko Abe’s marimba concertino “The Wave”, Maximilian won a first prize at the international “Rising Talents of Europe - Great Composers Competition Series”, performing the same piece (2020). In 2021, his new piece for marimba solo Constellations I was awarded second place at Edition Svitzer’s inaugural international Stellar Competition.

  • Reviews +
    • "It’s the best piece I have ever come across that explores sound effects on the marimba in a really musical way. It is the essence of the piece rather than an ‘addition’. Maximilian is absolutely superb and the video work is really well done."

      - Dame Evelyn Glennie


      Review (Percussive Notes, February 2022)

      This unaccompanied four-mallet marimba solo also employs the marimba frame as part of its sound and timbral resource. This solo is quite avant-garde in its presentation, and a set of detailed performance notes provides a good interpretive outline of this 12-section structure.

      Additionally, there is a “no-clef” staff for the special sound effects of the marimba frame. (This reviewer recalls an era in the 1980s when such percussionists as Michael Udow utilized a specially equipped, or modified, vibraphone known as a timbrack to achieve similar contrasting timbres.) Marimbists will need to acquaint themselves with special notations of striking everything from the resonators to the marimba frame in order to render a smooth, satisfying performance. Structurally, the piece moves from a pointillistic (or sparse) effect to a very demanding arpeggiated effect about two-thirds through the composition, ending with sparse sounds, similar to the opening section.

      Receiving 2nd prize in the 2021 Stellar Composer Competition, this solo would be appropriate for a graduate-level solo recital.

      —Jim Lambert

  • Credits +
    • Front Cover graphics and layout: Renate Lutter
      Photo: Reiner Nicklas
      Engraving: CPH Engraving
      Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
      Copyright © Edition SVITZER