The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium
First symposium on the Bohlen-Pierce scale, Boston, March 7 – 9, 2010
Schwenk: Night Hawks

Fredrik Schwenk: Night Hawks, Dark Scene for Two Clarinets (2008)

conceived for Bohlen-Pierce clarinet and Bb clarinet, continues in principle the piece Folsom Street for alto flute and knocking sounds from 1994, at least in its atmosphere. In both cases, short developing motivic elements represent the dark and shady wastelands of abandoned industrial terrains as we know them from the film Stalker by Andrej Tarkowsky. In Night Hawks, the light spheres of dim, sooty gas lanterns gutter by way of the intonation of the two clarinets, playing in different tunings. With agitated gestures reminiscent of a dancing dervish, suddenly an argument breaks out as if two moths were competing for the favor of the sordid light.

The harmonic basis for the composition are two “whole-tone scales”: one in the 12-tone equal tempered system, i.e. six whole-tone steps and the other in the sense of the tuning developed by Bohlen-Pierce, whose steps are a quarter-tone shy of the whole step. Hereby, the piece always starts and falls back onto common, minimally deviant tones just to start rasping again in terms of intonation.

Pdf of NightHawks

Fredrik Schwenk was born in Munich, Germany in 1960. He studied history of arts and history of theatre at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich and composition with Wilhelm Killmayer at Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich. He finished his studies holding a masterclass-diploma in 1987. He received a grant for Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 1989. From 1991 to 1993 he was initiating and leading the opera workshop at the International Youth Festival in Bayreuth. He was one of the foundation members of the A*DEvantgarde e.V. projects of contemporary music. Together with Moritz Eggert he was chairman until 1999. In autumn 2000 he moved to Hamburg as a professor for musical theory and composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. He got a comission for a orchestral piece for European Cultural Capitals in 2007, Hermannstadt (romania) and Luxemburg. Together with Peter Michael Hamel he is chairman of Studio 21 (sponsored by Zeitstiftung) in Hamburg. Fredrik Schwenk won many national and international prizes, for example the first prize of Fondation Hindemith (Blonay CH 1990), the Kulturförderpreis of the city of Munich (1992), the Carl-Orff-prize for contemporary music theatre (Munich 1995), the award of Siemens-Kulturstiftung for A*DEvantgarde (1997) and the Reinl-prize (Vienna 1998). He lives and works in Hamburg and in Sanspareil-aux-Truches.