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An encounter with Hermann Meier

18 September 2001 | Christa Salathé

Whether as a philosopher, a composer or simply as a human being: Hermann Meier was at one and the same time a visionary and a realist, a researcher and a rebel. Every conversation I had with him brought forth something thought-provoking, regardless of whether we talked about music or about contemporary composers whom we both knew. When I heard several of Hermann’s works after his death, I found much of his uncompromising, diverse personality in them.


Hermann’s musical language encompasses a multi-layered, complex world. Sometimes the listener is confronted with churning cascades of sound, presented with Meier’s characteristic obstinacy. At other times the listener is drawn under the spell of a calm, seemingly barren linearity – though this is never subject to any pseudo-melodious superficiality, instead obeying the logic of what sounds like a composed-out stream of thoughts. Correspondences, controversy and even tranquillity – all this has its place here.


The composer worked with graphic notation into old age, which always fascinated me. This demands a high degree of improvisatory awareness from the performer, while at the same time the complexity of the work structure bears witness to Meier’s immense imagination as a composer, both in matters of the overall structure and in the smallest details.


I would like to see Hermann Meier’s works made accessible to a broader public in future (especially those works that have hitherto been played either rarely or never at all). There is so much still to be discovered here.  Christa Salathé

Photo: Hermann Meier with his daughter-in-law Beatrice Meier, 2001

Christa Salathé, former lecturer in piano and methodology at the Basel University of Music.

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