Gesellschaft für Neue Musik Hamburg e.V.

The Gesellschaft für Neue Musik Hamburg e.V. (GNMH) (Hamburg Society for New Musicwas founded in January 1992 by Dr. Manfred Stahnke, Dr. Peter Niklas Wilson and Dr. Joachim Noller. Dr. Noller was its first chairman until 1994, followed by Manfred Stahnke who held the honorary post until 1997.

 According to its bylaws, the purpose of the GNMH is “the promotion of new music in Hamburg. This may be carried out through the presentation of concerts, workshops and symposia, with the aim of encouraging collaboration between composers, interpreters, musicologists, journalists and organizers”. With improvisation and notated scores serving as a point of departure in equal measure, works are often performed by members of the GNMH themselves. Indeed, acoustic instruments with or without live electronics are employed as well as the computer. And here is where the heterogeneous stylistic and aesthetic make-up of the membership of the GNMH can be seen.

 The field between improvisation and notation was also one of the main ideas of the festival “Fließende Grenzen” (“Fluid Boundaries”) which was presented for the first time in November 1992 at the Opera Stabile in Hamburg and produced in collaboration with the Ensemble L´Art pour l´Art and the music association TonArt. Under the chairmanship of Manfred Stahnke, the festival continued with changing themes and interpreters until 1996 with generous funding from the Hamburg Office of Cultural Affairs represented by Dr. Helmut Tschache.

 With the election of Hans-Christian von Dadelsen as chairman in 1997, the annual, 3-day GNMH festival was given a concept more strongly oriented toward music-philosophical questions, whereby von Dadelsen put special emphasis on particular developments in pop and minimal music from the USA versus the compositional technique of the classical European tradition. The new name of the festival, which goes back to Hans-Christian von Dadelsen, “Pur oder Plus” - which once appeared with a subtitle, “P.O.P. – Power or Philosophy? ” -expressed this special focus. Under his chairmanship, a gratifying collaboration with the Freien Akademie der Künste and Norddeutschen Rundfunk was developed.  Dramatic changes in the underlying conditions of the cultural-political landscape brought an abrupt end to the steadily rising prominence and popularity of the festival in 2006.

 Under the chairmanship of René Mense, who was elected in 2007, the GNMH has forged a new path. In place of the annual festival, there are now several individual concerts spread over the course of the year, each with an individual focus. Also new is the occasional reference to specifically Hamburg themes from the history of the city, e.g., building a bridge to the musically fascinating 18th Century or to the Musikhochschule and its founder Philipp Jarnach.

 In addition, the association will continue to seek collaborations with composers from other cities and countries, as was customary in the GNMH since its first festival in 1992. In this vein, 2009 will see concerts with Berlin composers and one with a trio from Florence which has also programmed works by Italian composers.

 René Mense, October 2008

 (Translation: Laurie Schwartz)