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Release: May 19, 2000

Cellist Wolfgang Panhofer will play unaccompanied recital at UI May 31

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Wolfgang Panhofer, a young Austrian cellist who has been called "a second Rostropovich" and "absolutely brilliant" by the Viennese press, will present a recital of music for unaccompanied cello, from Bach to the 20th century, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

Panhofer's recital, which is presented by the Center for New Music at the UI School of Music, will be free and open to the public.

On June 1 -- one day after his performance in Iowa City -- Panhofer will make his New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in a performance sponsored by the Austrian Cultural Institute.

In both Iowa City and New York, Panhofer will begin his recital with the "Ricercar" No. 6 of Domenico Gabrielli, a composer and cellist who lived in Bologna, Italy, in the late 17th century. Gabrielli's seven ricercars, written in 1689, are among the first works for unaccompanied cello, and represent an important early development of the cello as a solo instrument.

For cellists, the greatest tests of the unaccompanied repertoire are found with the six suites of J.S. Bach. Composed around 1720, they are virtual textbooks in the technical and expressive possibilities of the cello, placing demands on all aspects of a player's abilities. Not unexpectedly, Panhofer's recital includes one of Bach's works, the Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011.

Bach's suites were part of a tradition of unaccompanied music for stringed instruments that prevailed during the Baroque period, but fell out of fashion during the 19th century. It was only later that composers, inspired partly by Bach's example, rediscovered the possibilities of unaccompanied performance.

Consequently, after the Bach suite, Panhofer's program will jump ahead more than a century with five works from the 20th century: selections from "Lord Chesterfield and His Son" by Richard Wilson; Suite for Cello, op. 84 by Ernst Krenek; "Mutations" by Rainer Bischof; the Sonata for Cello, op. 31 by Egon Wellesz; and the "Toccata capricciosa" by Miklos Rozsa.

American composer Richard Wilson is Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Music at Vassar College. He has written more than 70 works, ranging from solo to full orchestral works and opera. "Lord Chesterfield to His Son," was described by the composer: " 'Lord Chesterfield' is intended for my son James, a budding cellist. Knowing that he may doubt my counsel, I have arranged that he receive an abundance of solemn advice from an 18th-century gentleman."

Rainer Bischof is one of the most versatile composers and musicians in Austria. He is general secretary of the Vienna Symphony, having served as director of the "Wiener Musiksommers" (Vienna summers of music), president of the Austrian Composers' League, and other administrative posts. He has published books on musical aesthetics and teaches composition at the Vienna Music Conservatory. He composes in a personal 12-tone style, in which emotion and expression occupy an important place. His "Mutations" were written in 1994 for the cellist Susan Salm.

Wellesz distinguished himself in two careers, as both a composer and a scholar. A native of Vienna, he taught musicology at the university there from 1930 until 1938, when the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany forced him to leave. He went to England, and from 1943 taught at Oxford University, where he was recognized as an authority on Baroque opera and Byzantine chant. In addition to his extensive scholarly work he was a prolific composer. His works reflect many influences, including his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, but also Bruckner, Bartok and Richard Strauss. His Cello Sonata, composed in 1920, is a single movement of several varied sections.

The Hungarian-American composer Miklos Rozsa had a long career in Europe as a composer of concert music before he came to the United States in 1940 and became a highly successful composer of music for Hollywood films. He won Academy Awards for his music to "Spellbound" (1945) and "Ben-Hur" (1959), and taught for many years at the University of Southern California. His "Toccata capricciosa" was written in memory of the great cellist Gregor Piatagorsky.

Panhofer was born in Vienna and studied cello at the Vienna Academy for Music and the Royal Northern College of Music in England, and he has participated in master classes with many of the world's leading cellists. At the age of 17 he became the youngest member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

He has won several prizes and competitions, including the Sir John Barbirolli Prize n England and the Austrian Broadcasting Competition. He has given concerts throughout Europe, in Africa, Asia and the United States, and has participated in major music festivals including the Carinthian Summer Festival, Wiener Festwochen (Vienna festival weeks) and Wien Modern Festival in Austria; the Schleswig Holstein Festival in Germany; the Boxhill Festival in England; and the Vivaldi Festival in Poland. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras around the globe and performed the 150th Birthday Anniversary Concert of Antonin Dvorak with Josef Suk, the composer's grandson, in Vienna.

The Center for New Music was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The center promotes the performance of new music by performers based at the UI and by guest artists. Its programming has included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks. In 1986 the center received the Commendation of Excellence from Broadcast Music, Inc., the world's largest performing rights organization, and it has received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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