Tobias PM Schneid - Biography

“…and above all, I believe that art must inevitably represent a state of intellectual freedom…”

Tobias PM Schneid ranks among the leading composers of his generation, whose works have found a wide audience and an established place in concert life. His extensive catalogue also includes important commissions and has been distinguished with many international prizes. In his compositions, he focuses on a wide palette of musical idioms that extend from classical and contemporary European music to influences from the areas of free jazz and rock music.

Born in 1963, he studied composition from 1985 to 1992 with Prof. Bertold Hummel and most notably with Prof. Heinz Winbeck at the Hochschule for Music in Würzburg; he completed his studies there with the Masterclass Diploma in 1994. Today, Tobias PM Schneid lives with his family in Neuburg/Donau and dedicates himself primarily to composing. On top of that, he is a sought-after teacher for composition and analysis and holds a teaching position in the department of music theory at the Hochschule for Music in Würzburg. A collaboration with the Goethe Institute brought him to cities such as Budapest, Kyoto and Copenhagen for lectures and concerts.

Besides exploring the possibilities of serial, electronic and free tonal techniques, his analyses of Boulez and Ligeti, as well as the music of Gustav Mahler and Maurice Ravel, have importantly influenced his approach to musical parameters.

Schneid is also intensely engaged with contemporary literature. His preferences here lean in particular toward Thomas Bernhard and Samuel Beckett, but also to works by Friedrich Hölderlin and Walter Benjamin.

The orchestral work Einklang Op. 1 from 1989/91 (rev. 2004) may be seen as a kind of summation of the early years, while the much admired music theater piece Swin Swin introduced a new creative phase. In 1996, Schneid was composer in residence at Manchester University where performances of his works met with excited interest. His involvement with contemporary English music and contact with important British and Danish composers and musicians continue to be important sources of inspiration.

Schneid’s works are based on musical as well as extra-musical concepts, thus, the compositional procedures he employs can be completely diverse. His creative work, however, is always characterized by the search for a connection between aesthetic concepts that at first glance appear incompatible. A good example of this is the genesis of the work Umbrellas and Sewing Machines (2000). Schneid collected the musical material over the course of 39 days, sitting at his desk and notating each musical idea, from jazz phrases to timbres, melodies to harmonic progressions. The material, drawn from his unconscious in such a manner, was then subjected to the compositional process, during the course of which he set himself the task of searching for connections between the different musical worlds. While considering the significance of each tone, he was concerned with contrasting the material or interweaving it contrapuntally – without shifting responsibility onto the rigid framework of a specific compositional system.

Among the many awards that Tobias PM Schneid has garnered are the 1st Prize at the 1st Viennese Composition Competition 1990 which was initiated by Claudio Abbado, the renowned Composition Prize of the Capital of the Federal State of Stuttgart, the WDR Composition Prize “Young Composers Forum”, a fellowship at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, and the Prize of the Hitzacker Summer Music Days, which he won twice. The works Versuch über Vergangenes, Einklang Op. 1 as well as the works Two Movements for ensemble: Prelude I: harmonic encounters and Weird scenes inside the mirror cages were chosen by the national jury as the German entries for the World Music Days 1989, 1991 and 2006.

Schneid works with the leading orchestras of Europe, including, for example, the BBC Symphony Orchestra London, the radio orchestras of BR, SWR, SR and WDR, the DSO Berlin, as well as the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the Musikfabrik NRW. Among the important conductors, who performed his music, are Sylvain Cambreling, Dennis Russell Davies, Johannes Kalitzcke, Brad Lubman, Andris Nelsons and Peter Rundel. The soloists for whom Schneid has composed include Jörg Widmann, Alban Gerhardt, Carin Levine, Siegfried Palm and Stefan Schilli.

For the ARD Music Competition 2007, Schneid composed the compulsory piece for piano trio. Commissioned by Prof. Jörg Widmann, he composed the clarinet concerto Beautiful Harmonizer as the compulsory piece for the 1st International Clarinet Competition 2008 in Freiburg i. Breisgau. In the spring of 2010, Schneid completed his 2nd Symphony “time lapse on slow motion grounds”, which was premiered in May 2010 by the Young Euro Classics Festival Orchestra at the Expo in Shanghai under the direction of Gerd Albrecht. Likewise in 2010, the SWR Vocal Ensemble Stuttgart performed the premiere of the 3rd Symphony “XXI” for 28 voices under the direction of Marcus Creed.

The Tecchler Trio, with the two-time Echo prize winner, Maximilian Hornung, performed both piano trios many times; the Swiss Absolut Trio has recently added these piano trios to its repertoire and is now presenting them to a wider public.

2012, the commissioned work Nacht, Prelude vor Mahler was premiered by the Augsburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Dirk Kaftan. As a prelude to Gustav Mahler’s 7th Symphony, it was connected seamlessly to it. At the Young Euro Classics Festival in Berlin 2012, after its world premiere in Switzerland, the very successful German premiere of his Bagatellen für Klavier Solo had its first German performance with the pianist Benjamin Engeli at the Konzerthaus Berlin. In 2013, Maximilian Hornung firstly performed the cello sonata in a recital at the Augsburg Rococo Hall and Esther Hoppe premiered the Five Portraits - Capriccios for Violin Solo at the Lockenhaus Festival in Austria.

Schneid composed the music for the new ballet production The Picture of Dorian Gray. The premiere took place at the Augsburg Theater in December 2013. His new saxophone concerto astral voyager, which he composed for the soloist Jan Schulte-Bunert commissioned by the New Westphalian Philharmonic, is being premiered in January 2014. Besides, Schneid works on another composition for the ARD Music Competition.

Fresh on the market, after the CDs that have already been released on coviello contemporary and Wergo, is a new portrait album on Neos Music; works appearing here were recorded by the Tecchler Trio which has disbanded in the interim: Sechs Bagatellen for piano, Piano Trio No. 1 and No. 2, Sonata for solo cello and Five Portraits - Capriccios for solo violin.


Prizes and Awards

Composition Award of state capital Stuttgart
Composition Award 'Forum of Young Composers' of WDR
Composition and Audience Award of Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker
First prize of the first international composition competition in Vienna (Claudio Abbado)
Six-month scholarship of Cite International des Arts, Paris
Composition and Audience Award of Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker
One-month scholarship of IRCAM, Paris (not attended)
Composition Award 'Angelo Commneno', Rome
Finalist of 4th Annual International Spectri Sonori Contest (New Orleans)
Bavarian State Award for Young Artists
Special Mention of 3th International Witold Lutoslawski Composition Award
Special Mention of 8e Concours International de Composition Musicale Besancon
Nomination for the German Music Author Award of GEMA, Category: Symphony
Nomination of the German Music Author Award of GEMA, Category: Orchestra
Member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts