HaraldBanter was born Gerd von Wysocki on 16th March 1930 in Berlin, the son oE theartistic director oE the Lindstrom-Odeon Record Company. He had his owntraining in recording with Berlin Radio and was a composition pupil of JohannesPranschke and Georg Haentzschel. In1950 he became a programme producer with North West German Radio in Cologne andtwo years later Eounded the Harald Banter Ensemble, later the Media-Band,working principally Eor West German Radio. In1955 he took part in the UNESCO International Music Conference at Gravesanowith Hermann Scherchen and the following year gave his first jazz concert atthe Cologne G??rzenich with Albert Mangelsdorff and made a joint appearance withthe Modem Jazz Quartet in the Light Music Week in Stuttgart,performing Gunther Schuller's Twelve by Eleven. He went on to take composition lessons with BerndAlois Zimmermann and in 1957 collaborated with Hans Werner Henze in theVisconti ballet Maratona, first performed in Cologne under Hans Rosbaud.
In the following years came performances of Banter's Kantate 58 inCologne and the ballet Diana sorpresa at the Munich GartnerplatzTheatre.
Inthe 19605 Harald Banter directed a jazz class at the Duisburg Conservatory andtook part in master-courses for composition at Schloss Br??hl for the Cologne Musikhochschuleunder the direction of Henze. Therefollowed further work for broadcasting with Media-Band, teaching and seminarsand, in 1979, activity in the editing, production and direction of music forWest German Radio, with productions of work by Kurt Weill and the rediscoveryof operettas by Suppe, Strauss, Millocker and Offenbach, as weIl as of dramaticmusical work by contemporary composers. The same year brought the first performanceof his Concerto tor soprano saxophone and jazz orchestra, followed in1981 by the first performance of his Amores, based on Ovid, for tenor,speaker, chorus and jazz orchestra.
Inthe 19805 Banter's career continued with increasing distinction, performancesand recordings with his newly founded ensemble Vier plus Sechs (Four plus Six),appointment as Vice-President of the German Composers' Union, the award in 1990of the Silver Leaf of the Dramatic Union and of the Silver Medal of the GermanComposers' Union for his services to German music. In 1994 he was awarded the title HonoraryProfessor by the Ministry of Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia.
HaraldBanter, whose 65th birthday is celebrated in the present release, is a musicianof great versatility. He had early inspiration in jazz from hearing GeorgeShearing and was influenced by his contact with Zimmermann and collaborationwith Henze. He experimented with smaller jazz ensembles, rather than big bands,collaborating with other contemporary composers and has played an importantpart in the activities of the German copyright agency, the Gemeinschaft f??r Auff??hrungs-undMechanische Vervielfaltigungsrechte, GEMA. The value of his long career inbroadcasting has been widely acknowledged, with 45 years of service to WestGerman Radio as producer and editor.
The Rhapsodic Intermezzo tor piano and orchestra (RhapsodischesIntermezzo) was written in 1948, when the composer was eighteen, and is hisfirst concert piece. The pianist Heinz Butz, who gave the first performance ofthe work with the Berlin Radio Orchestra under the direction of Otto Dobrindtin 1949, was responsible for the arrangement. At this period Banter was underthe influence of Grieg and Rachmaninov and of his teacher Georg Haentzschel. The present programme starts and ends with a Rhapsody,framing a career and development of same fifty years.
The ConcertSuite: Marchenbilder (Fairy-Tale Pictures) was written in 1961 in aromantic-impressionist style and is essentially well-crafted entertainmentmusic. The suite includes fourmovements, Der Geist in der Flasche (The Spirit in the Bottle), DieWunschinsel (The Island of Wishes), Der Zauberberg (The MagicMountain) and Der Traumkonig (The Dream King).
Prolog2000 was written in 1972 on theoccasion of a presentation by Professor Karl Steinbuch, Man and Technologyin the Year 2000. In thecomposition the relations between man and technology today were expressed, withthe understanding that for mankind technology is both progress and regress andcan mean even annihilation. When the piece was written it was not yet clear inhow short a time this might become true. Aftera chorale-like introduction by the brass comes a twelve-note series, developednext by the woodwind and altered by the cellos and double basses. A syncopated ostinato underlies the tone-row. This part is replaced by a rhythrnic quaver movementin the strings, above which the sounds of the brass in intervals of a second,stereophonical1y from left and right and diagonally across the whole orchestra,are heard. After a crescendoleading to a furioso fol1ows an electronic tape, symbolizing the technologicalelement of our time, jet-units, turbines and computer. Through aleatoric instrumental interventions themusicians and the electronic sounds are brought together, growing denser intexture and increasing in dynamics to a climax. The tone-row appears again providing a finalpianissimo catharsis.
Toddes Aktaeon (The Death of Actaeon) isfrom the bal1et Diana sorpresa (Diana Surprised), first staged at theMunich Gartner-Platz Theatre in 1960. The episode has been arranged by the composer as aseparateconcert-piece. Actaeon, son of the King of Thebes, saw Diana, goddess of thechase, bathing and was changed by the goddess into a stag, to be killed by herarrow.
Therhapsody for cello and orchestra, Phadra, was inspired by the cellistMaria Kliegel, who was of great assistance in the technical and musical aspectsof the work. The form is ingeneral classical. After a tutti introduction in which the whole musicalmaterial is presented in pyramid chords, the work begins with a rhythmicpassage based on two motifs. This islinked to an elegy in ballade style which leads to a dynamic climax and is sirnilarlywoven together from two thematic elements. There follows a short scherzo-liketransition to the last furioso section which provides an opportunity forsoloistic virtuosity and a final cadenza. The compositional techniques of thework involve the classical principles of part-writing and harmony as well as atwelve-note series and free tonal methods of construction, with jazz-inspiredconfigurations and scales. Thework is based on the legend of Phaedra, daughter of Minos, King of Crete,sister of Ariadne and wife of Theseus. Shefelt in love with her stepson Hippolytus, who repelled her advances. Fearing discovery she told her husband thatHippolytus had pursued her and Theseus, believing her, prayed Poseidon, the godof the sea, to destroy him. As Hippolytuswas driving in his chariot along the coast, suddenly a bull emerged out of thesea. The horses shied and bolted,dragging hirn to his death. Phaedra killed herself.
HaraldBanter (English version by Keith Anderson)