One Plus All
An Ensemble of Soloists
Even in 1906, writing his Chamber Symphony No. 1 Op. 9, Arnold Schoenberg suspected as much: the music of the future will depend essentially on the soloistic abilities of the musicians, as individuals and collectives. It is no coincidence that Ensemble Modern performed the Schoenberg piece in 1980 for its founding concerts in Cologne and Frankfurt at the Main. Opus 9 has proven a key work for the rise of the ensemble in new music, leading the conductor and composer Enno Poppe (b. 1969) to once remark in conversation with Ensemble Modern: »The ensemble piece is the symphony of the late 20th century. Starting with Schoenberg’s Opus 9, an emphatic genre tradition has developed – not least because of specialist ensembles and their ever-increasing quality – and hardly a composer can, or would want to, ignore this.« Nor does Ensemble Modern ignore composers; rather, it often works with them even during the genesis of a work, and as much as possible when rehearsing their scores. Thus, over the course of four decades, this exploration and appropriation of various positions in contemporary music has led to an immense reservoir of knowledge and experience. The result is an unmistakable, authentic performance culture in which the soloistic qualities of the musicians manifest themselves as much as the democratic collaboration of the collective.