© Katrin Schilling

The early years of professional life aren't necessarily easy for anyone, but it's especially challenging for young composers to establish a professional foothold. They usually complete their training at music schools where there is little or no opportunity to work with professional ensembles. The International Composition Seminar closes that gap by enabling shared learning and working in a professional and international context, which translates into an educational experience unrivaled at the European level.

Partnering with the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA), the Allianz Cultural Foundation initiated the International Composition Seminar in 2004. On the part of the Allianz Cultural Foundation, the project originated in a desire to foster dialogue between young European talents in the field of new music, and to connect them with the best experienced performers, conductors and composers. Because of its solid commitment to passing on its own vast store of experience and developing collaborative projects with emerging international composers and conductors, the Ensemble Modern Academy has been the ideal partner. It functions as a site for teaching and learning in the expanded sense, where research, encounters, exchange and public presentation are all facilitated.

Seminar participants premiere their pieces before a large audience. In 2011, the seminar became part of the “cresc...”  Biennial for Modern Music Frankfurt Rhine-Main, further broadening public exposure.

Internationale Ensemble Modern Akademie

In 2017 the project theme was „Transit“. Under the guidance of Enno Poppe, one of the most important young representatives of contemporary music and a highly sought-after conductor, the six participating composers chosen by the jury created new works over the course of an entire year. This multistage “work in progress” including working and studying phases enabled an intensive transfer of experiences and knowledge. The work of the young composers were premiered on 26 November 2017. 

In the past, many successful composers such as Arnulf Herrmann, Saed Haddad and Vito Zuraj have emerged from the project and testify its sustainability and European-wide signal effect. 
In 2015, together with the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, a suspenseful interplay between the two time-based arts music and film was created. This successful model was continued in 2017.

Four Filmmakers – Four Composers – Four World Premieres

Under the guidance of Artistic Director Johannes Kalitzke, composers at the 7th International Composition Seminar wrote the music to four new music films from the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. The productions had been filmed in places as diverse as New York, Morocco, Sicily and Hungary, and their subject matter was as original as the music that emerged. The outcome of the seminar premiered under the collective title “Quadruplets” at the cresc... Biennial for Modern Music.

The 6th International Composition Seminar worked with the cresc... music biennial's 2013 theme “Music and Time”. The six participants studied composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann's (1918 – 1970) aesthetic approaches, ideas and suggestions, and wrote their own pieces on that basis. The six new works premiered at two concerts as part of the cresc... Biennial for Modern Music.

For the first time ever, the International Composition Seminar occurred in the context of the “cresc...” music biennial. Over 3,500 listeners attended eight contemporary concerts at four venues in Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt. A cooperation with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony  opened up the possibility for composing work with a large orchestra for the first time.

Themed “Music and Space” in 2011, cresc... spotlighted artist, theorist, architect and engineer Iannis Xenakis (1922 – 2001). The 5thInternational Composition Seminar aligned thematically with the festival and used Xenakis' works as its basis.

Participants in the 4th International Composition Seminar took part in instrumental workshops by musicians from the Ensemble Modern. The workshops dealt with questions like: What is possible with this instrument, what tones emerge in which registers, and how does that affect the combined sound of an ensemble? Participants built on their workshop experiences in developing new concepts for compositions. The resulting pieces were performed in Frankfurt am Main and Munich in conclusion. 

At the 3rd International Composition Seminar, participants analyzed musical approaches and content in light of aesthetic concerns and relevant composing techniques. That process sparked the development of new compositional forms. Founded on an interdisciplinary approach, the seminar invited eight young composers from various countries to work with two international conductors and two musicologists, who documented the creative process.

The English composer and conductor George Benjamin worked with participants in the 2ndInternational Composition Seminar during both the fall and spring sessions. The IRCAM / Paris joined as a cooperating partner. The outcome of the 2005 International Composition Seminar was performed in Frankfurt by the Ensemble Modern on 15 and 16 December. The following day, an additional follow-up concert was held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, featuring a piece by George Benjamin, a premiere by Saed Haddad (participant in the 2004 International Composition Seminar) and French premieres of the new works by seminar participants Gordon Kampe and Hannes Galette Seidl.

At the 1st International Composition Seminar, young composers selected on the basis of recommendations were given the opportunity to work with the musicians of the Ensemble Modern, composer Helmut Lachenmann and conductor Frank Ollu during two rehearsal sessions. At a series of evening seminars, they not only analyzed and discussed composing ideas with the tutors, but put those ideas into practice. The works premiered in Frankfurt am Main in late 2004.