Stahnke, Manfred


Let us be children loving life, music, pictures as if experienced for the first time


I am a disbeliever, even in my own music - pictures - words from yesterday. I know too many believers who cannot overcome their own thoughts and forget to strive for the next step.
I am a believer in the possibility of the unforeseen. From all over the world come the most wonderful and strange inventions, and they come all the time: 
in music from ars subtilior times Rodericus or Senleches to today's György Ligeti,
in pictures from the unknown peoples of ice age caves up to Vincent van Gogh,
in words from Li Bai to Nicole Krauss,
in architecture from Andrea Palladio to Francis Kéré,
in the sciences from Giordano Bruno to Katalin Karikó.
So let us dive into this wonderful world of inventions and learn the best of it all, every day without ending ...


Manfred Stahnke was born in Kiel, 30 October 1951. In his childhood he began to learn violin, piano, and music theory, improvising and painting the whole day long.
1970-74 he went to Freiburg to Wolfgang Fortner, later Klaus Huber and his then-assistant Brian Ferneyhough. He began a parallel study of musicology with Hans-Heinrich Eggebrecht and others. From 1974 on he continued his studies in composition and musicology in Hamburg with György Ligeti and Constantin Floros, finishing as Dr. phil. at the Hamburg University. The subject of his thesis was the Aesthetics of Pierre Boulez. 1979-80 he went to the U.S.A. to study microtonality and computermusic (Urbana/Champaign, Ben Johnston, and then Stanford, John Chowning).
From 1983 on he was a teacher at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, from 1988 on as professor for composition, he is prof. emeritus since 2017.
Stahnke's works have a strong basis on microtonality. Among them are several operas: "The Fall of the House of Usher", "Henry the Fourth", "Orpheus Kristall", orchestra pieces and concertos: "Der Mandelbrotbaum", "Trace des sorciers", "Violin Symphony", "Scales of Ages" for Saxophone & orchestra, and a lot of chamber music, several times for the ensemble modern Frankfurt.
He published several books, among them "1001 Microtones" 2015, "Mein Blick auf Ligeti & Partch" 2017.
He was a lecturer and led master classes in many countries worldwide, among them Chicago,  Glasgow, Boston, Wellington (New Zealand), Buenos Aires, Cluj (Romania), Oslo.
Recently he works a lot with the improvisation ensemble TonArt Hamburg as a violist, working together with musicians like Fred Frith or Asya Fateyeva. He is planning a book for Ligeti's 100th birthday 2023, together with many people from the old Ligeti composition class in Hamburg.


  • 1978 Metallic Spaces, Orch. in 72ET, Gaudeamus, Radio Symphony Hilversum 1978
  • 1979 Ritus, Fl, Vc, Pno, Wolpe-Trio Essen, prem. around 1994
  • 1980–81 Der Untergang des Hauses Usher, Chamber Opera, Kiel 1981
  • 1982 Wahnsinn, das ist die Seele der Handlung (poems of E.A.Poe), Music Theater: Female Voice & String Quartet, Braunschweig & Gelsenkirchen 1983 with Carla Henius, new Version Berliner Staatsoper 2012
  • 1983–86 Heinrich IV. (nach Luigi Pirandello), Chamber Opera, Kiel 1987
  • 1982–85 Partota, Pno in Vallotti-tuning, Hubertus Dreyer, Hamburg 1986
  • 1986 Two Scales, 2 microtonal bassoons, American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble: April Chapman, Johnny Reinhardt, New York
  • 1987 En cet hybride tamps, chamber ens., 4 Cl, 2 Vl, 2 Vla, Harp, Yamaha DX7-II Synthesizer, 2 Perc, ensemble modern, Saarbrücken 1988, prem. new version Szombathely 1990
  • 1988 Bratschensonate, Christian Stahnke, Mike Rutledge, Hubertus Dreyer, Hamburg 1990–92, new version 2005
  • 1990 Centonage, chamber ens., Fl, Ob, Cl, Trp, Trb, Perc, Harp, Yamaha DX7-II Synthesizer, 3 Vl, Va, Vc, ensemble modern, Frankfurt
  • 1991 Ansichten eines Käfers, Solo guitar in scordatura, Satoshi Oba, Odense 1995
  • 1992 Partota II - für György Ligeti, MIDI-piano & Sampler, Hubertus Dreyer, Hamburg
  • 1993 Saitenspiel, 7 V, 3 Va, 3 Vc, Kb, in scordatura, Hamburger Camerata, dir. Claus Bantzer, Hamburg
  • 1994 Streetmusic I, Trb. & Steeldrums, Metal Brass, Mainz 1995. Version for Bassfl & Steeldrums, l'art pour l'art, Hamburg 1997
  • 1997 Trace des sorciers, Orch., SWR Sinfonieorchester, Dir. Olav Henzold, Donaueschingen
  • 1999 Lumpengalerie, Fl, Cl, V, Vc, Pno, Perc, Ensemble Est!Est!!Est!!! Bonn
  • 2000 Viertes Streichquartett, München
  • 2001 Orpheus Kristall, Opera for stage & internet, Soprano, 2 Mezzo sopranos, Baritone. Solo perc, Internet musicians, Fl, Cl, Trp, 2 Trb, 3 Vl, 3 Va, 3 Vc, Cb, Münchener Biennale 2002
  • 2003 Frankfurt Musicbox, V, Va, Vc, Pno, Perc, ensemble modern, Frankfurt
  • 2003 Scales of Ages, Saxophone Symphony, Alto saxophone & orch, John-Edward Kelly, Philharmonisches Orchester Heidelberg, Dir. Thomas Kalb, Heidelberg 2004
  • 2005 Partota IX - Tanz und Tod, Accordion & Pno, Andreas Nebl, Oliver McCall, Trossingen 2006
  • 2005 The Alps Blues Clone, Vc & Zither, Martin Jaggi, Leopold Hurt, Hamburg
  • 2005 Diamantenpracht, Hrp solo in scordatura, Gesine Dreyer, Hamburg 2006
  • 2006 Skins & Strings, Perc, Va, Vc, Rumi Ogawa, Jagdish Mistry, Michael Kasper, Frankfurt/M
  • 2006 Danzbodnlock - Violinsinfonie, Violin solo & Orch., Barbara Lüneburg, SWR-Sinfonieorchester, Dir. Hans Zender, Donaueschingen
  • 2008 Hinterhofmusick, Orch. (3 Ob, Trp, Perc, 32 Strings in microtuning), Düsseldorfer Hofmusik & Düsseldorfer Sinfoniker, Dir. Mark-Andreas Schlingensiepen, Düsseldorf
  • 2008/09 Antlitz "Aus tiefer Not", Soprano, Bass recorder, Subbass recorder, Vc, Harpsichord. Text: Psalm 130. UA 7. Mai 2009 Köln (Irene Kurka [Soprano], Lucia Mense, Karolina Baeter [recorders], Burkart Zeller [Vc], Alexander Puliaev [Harpsichord])
  • 2009 CHANGGUflage, changgu (Korean drum) & String trio - a camouflage between "Sanjo" and "Chambermusic", Il-Ryun Chung & ensemble, Berlin
  • 2011 Such(t)maschine, chamber ens, ensemble modern, Frankfurt 2012
  • 2012 Verminderte Elbharmonie, soprano & ens, decoder ensemble, blurred edges festival 5 may 2013
  • 2007/2013 CAPRA 2, V solo
  • 2013 Klaviertanz, Pno solo
  • 2013 Behalte den Flug im Gedächtnis, der Vogel ist sterblich, Cl, Vc, Pno, Trio Catch, Mannheim 2014
  • 2013 CAPRA 3, V solo
  • 2013 Last Supper, Organo solo, Katja Kanowski, Eckernförde 2015
  • 2009/2015 Verwehtes Lied, Organo solo, Rainer Oster, Saarbrücken 2009
  • 2014/19 Fünftes Streichquartett
  • 2016 Ptitschki (Birds), Soprano saxophone in quartertones, prem. Lemgo, Asya Fateyeva
  • 2016/17 SKINS & STRINGS (version for the CD recording), perc, v, vc, ensemble modern CD 2017, CD Ensemble Modern with Rumi Ogawa, Jagdish Mistry, Michael Kasper
  • 2018 "...WOHLGESTIMMETE GEBÄRENDE HARMONEY - Annäherungen an Jacob Böhme" for soprano & ensemble, comm. by "Internationale Jacob Böhme-Gesellschaft e.V. in Görlitz", ensemble "the schoole of night", Görlitz
  • 2019 Ciconietta, Lucia Schmidl & Jorge Paz (Duolux), Hamburg, arranged from PARTOTA III for accordion solo
  • 2019/20 My Dastgāha - rewriting a beloved music from Persia with the means of JI, Va solo
  • 2020 Just Intonation Etudes, Va solo
  • 2020 "em40" in memoriam Hans Zender, fl & string quartet, ensemble modern, Frankfurt 2021


Struktur und Ästhetik bei Boulez: Dritte Sonate, Formant "Trope" - mit Mallarmé & Joyce

BoD, Norderstedt 2017


Mein Blick auf Ligeti / Partch & Compagnons

BoD, Norderstedt 2017


1001 Mikrotöne / 1001 Microtones

(Hrsg. mit Sarvenaz Safari), Bockel Verlag, Neumünster  2014


Mikrotöne und mehr: Auf György Ligetis Hamburger Pfaden

(Hrsg.), Bockel Verlag, Neumünster 2005

(Stand: 19.01.2024)  | 
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