Willy Burkhard


Born: April 17, 1900; Évilard sur Bienne, Switzerland   Died: June 18, 1955; Zurich, Switzerland  
Swiss composer Willy Burkhard was born in Leubringen, a town near Berne, Switzerland. After completing a certificate at a teacher's college in Berne, Burkhard entered Berne Conservatory. Traveling to Leipzig to further his study, he took composition with Sigfrid Karg-Elert. Afterward, Burkhard finished his studies with Walter Courvoisier, first in Munich and later in Paris. Burkhard decided to ply his trade at home in Berne; he began teaching Read more there in 1924, and in 1928 he was named theory professor at Berne Conservatory. He also led the Teacher's Singing Union in Lyss, the Singingstudenten children's chorus in Berne, and also an orchestra in Langelthal.

In 1932, Burkhard suffered an attack of tuberculosis and this forced him to resign from his various posts. Throughout the remainder of the 1930s, Burkhard was confined to sanatoriums and lived through the help of friends; his pursuit of composition began to increase at this time as a means to help pay the bills while he recuperated. By 1942, Burkhard was sufficiently recovered to accept a position teaching at the conservatory in Zurich, and he kept it until he died at age 55 in 1955.

Burkhard was quite prolific for a composer who seldom enjoyed the bloom of health; his worklist runs to 98 published opus numbers and nearly twice that amount in unpublished compositions exist in manuscript at the Paul-Sacher-Stiftung. Whereas his early compositions are post-Romantic in style, by 1930 Burkhard entered his mature style, reminiscent of Hindemith and his countryman Frank Martin, but a tad more bitter harmonically. At the very end of his life, Burkhard adopted some aspects of twelve-tone composition, but always composed within a basical tonal framework His most important works are found among his sacred choral music, such as his oratorios Das Gesicht Jesajus (1935) and Das Jahr (1940) and the cantata Die Sintflut (1955). His opera Die Schwarze Spinne (The Black Spider, 1947-1948) is also highly regarded, as are his many song settings and choruses. He also composed orchestral music, particularly for Paul Sacher's Sinfonietta, a violin concerto, at least two symphonies, and a body of chamber and piano solo music. Read less
Browse 1-11 of 11 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Label: Musiques Suisses   Catalog: 6273 Release Date: 12/18/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Willy Burkhard
    Performer:  Bernhard Hunziker,  Thomas Sauer,  Maya Boog,  Rudolf Rosen
    Conductor:  Alois Koch
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  • 2.
    Duo 2xm Plays Shankar & Burkhard & Denisov
    Label: Sfz   Catalog: 1007 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ravi Shankar,  Willy Burkhard,  Edison Denisov,  Johannes Möller  ... 
    Performer:  Mats Möller,  Johannes Möller
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo 2xm
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  • 3.
    Lyrische Aspekte Unseres Jahrhundert / Martin Gelland
    Label: Vienna Modern Masters   Catalog: 2017 Release Date: 04/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dieter Acker,  Hanns Jelinek,  Richard Strauss,  Willy Burkhard  ... 
    Performer:  Martin Gelland,  Dietmar Keitz,  Lennart Wallin,  Ute Gareis  ... 
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  • 4.
    Burkhard: Serenade To The Dawn;  Bozz: Polydiaphonie, Etc  / Lieberknecht, Bungarten
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm) Gold   Catalog: 9051540 Release Date: 02/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Eugčne Bozza,  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,  Hans Haug,  Joaquin Rodrigo  ... 
    Performer:  Frank Bungarten,  Andrea Lieberknecht
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  • 5.
    Label: Musiques Suisses   Catalog: 6247 Release Date: 01/30/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Willy Burkhard
    Performer:  Heinz Balli,  Daniel Scheidegger,  Annette Geisel,  Adrian Weber
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  • 6.
    Eternité - Alain, Burkhard, Caplet, Zbinden / Marcon, Et Al
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 1191 Release Date: 12/26/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Willy Burkhard,  André Caplet,  Julien-François Zbinden,  Jehan-Ariste Alain
    Performer:  Jean-Christophe Geiser,  Isabelle Giraud
    Conductor:  Franck Marcon
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  • 7.
    Label: Musiques Suisses   Catalog: 6228 Release Date: 05/30/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Willy Burkhard,  Armin Schibler
    Performer:  Olive E. Wetter,  Matthias Walpen,  Iris Eggler,  Paul Moser
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  • 8.
    W. Burkhard: Lieder / Annemarie Burkhard, Simon Burkhard
    Label: Musiques Suisses   Catalog: 6235 Release Date: 02/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Willy Burkhard
    Performer:  Annemarie Burkhard,  Simon Burkhard
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  • 9.
    Christopher Hogwood Conducts Müller-zürich / Jeremy Bines
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 7253 Release Date: 05/27/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Müller-Zürich,  Hans Schaeuble,  Adolf Brunner,  Willy Burkhard
    Performer:  Jeremy Bines
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Chamber Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Musik In Luzern: A-cappella-chormusik
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 991/92 Release Date: 10/26/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Marianne Meystre,  Traditional,  Anonymous,  Charles Gounod  ... 
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  • 11.
    Swiss Violin Works / Roger Elmiger, Micheline Mitrani
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 625 Release Date: 12/12/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Segond,  Gaspard Fritz,  Arthur Honegger,  Willy Burkhard  ... 
    Performer:  Micheline Mitrani,  Roger Elmiger
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