Wilhelm Killmayer

Biography

Born: August 21, 1927; Munich, Germany  
German composer Wilhelm Killmayer was born in 1927 and grew up in Mitterndorf, near Dachau. After his father died in 1932, his family relocated to Munich, where he began to study piano a year later. Through his late teens and early twenties, Killmayer studied conducting and composition, passing the state examinations in both. From 1951 -- 1953, he privately studied composition with Carl Orff, later (1953 -- 1954) studying with him at the Munich Read more Hochschule für Musik. Orff and Igor Stravinsky were the key influences on his early style. Killmayer was also studying musicology at Munich University during this period, and this had a major shaping influence on him, giving him an acute historical self-consciousness. In 1954, he won the Fromm Music Foundation prize in composition, an event that spurred him into devoting himself to composition. His career thereafter is marked with numerous awards and honors and he quickly achieved great success both as a performer and composer. From 1961 -- 1964, he was the musical director of the Bavarian State Opera. In the mid-'60s, he entered a period of personal crisis that led him to sever his ties with his personal and professional past. He moved to Frankfurt in 1968, where he composed film and theater music for a living. During the '60s, and '70s, he produced many quiet, dark, spare, and cryptic works. In 1973, he was appointed to a composition chair at the Munich Hochshule für Musik, a position he held until 1993. In 1992, he was made head of the music department of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. The occasion of his 70th birthday was celebrated in Germany with many musical and critical publications in honor of his work. Killmayer's uniqueness comes not only from his ability to constantly re-imagine his music, but from his aggressive rejection of the modernist idea of the new music composer as "pioneer." From relatively early on, Killmayer's music instead engaged in anxious reflection upon and dissection of the musical past. Phantoms of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries especially populate the music like a ghostly banquet; fragmented or multi-faceted allusions float by, often followed by shimmering moments of beautiful, unidentifiable strangeness. Whether in his early works or his very spare, lucid later works, Killmayer never quite lets the listener know where he stands, nor makes it very easy to imagine what will be heard next in his "garden of sounds." Read less
Browse 1-8 of 8 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Wanderer - Schumann, Killmayer, Mahler / Christoph Pregardien, Ensemble Kontraste
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72518 Release Date: 01/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Wilhelm Killmayer,  Gustav Mahler
    Conductor:  Christoph Prégardien
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Kontraste
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  • 2.
    Killmayer, Schumann: Works For Cello & Piano / Altstaedt, Gallardo
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 10187 Release Date: 10/26/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wilhelm Killmayer,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Nicolas Altstaedt,  José Gallardo
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  • 3.
    Music For My Cello
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72376 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Berthold Hummel,  Hermann Regner,  Wilhelm Killmayer,  Mikis Theodorakis  ... 
    Performer:  Julius Berger
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  • 4.
    Edition Klaiver-festival Ruhr - Handel, Mendelssohn & Neue Music
    Label: Cavi Music   Catalog: 8553186 Release Date: 04/13/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Vassos Nicolaou,  Rudi Spring,  Wilhelm Killmayer,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Tamara Stefanovich,  Markus Schäfer,  Siegfried Mauser,  Léon Berben  ... 
    Conductor:  Steven Sloane
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bochum Symphony Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Unsleeping - Songs By Living Composers / Green, Hess
    Label: Blue Griffin   Catalog: 177 Release Date: 01/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lori Laitman,  Roberto Sierra,  Wilhelm Killmayer,  André Hajdu  ... 
    Performer:  Patricia Green,  John Hess
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  • 6.
    Erdmann, Rihm, Killmayer, Acker, Henze: Klaviertrios / Abegg Trio
    Label: Tacet   Catalog: 92 Release Date: 01/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dieter Acker,  Wilhelm Killmayer,  Wolfgang Rihm,  Dietrich Erdmann  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Abegg Trio
    CD: $21.49
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  • 7.
    Goethe Chorlieder / Ridil, Goethe Universität Frankfurt
    Label: Thorofon   Catalog: 2399 Release Date: 01/12/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wilhelm Weismann,  Wilhelm Killmayer,  Johannes Driessler,  Harald Genzmer  ... 
    Performer:  Helena Gomm,  Peter Vogt
    Conductor:  Christian Ridil
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Goethe University Chamber Chorus
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  • 8.
    Killmayer: Yolimba / Peter Schneider
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 257921 Release Date: 12/12/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wilhelm Killmayer
    Performer:  Hans Joachim Porcher,  Wolf Euba,  Regine Herrmann,  Margit Kinzel  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Schneider
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Chorus,  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
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