The revival of the glass armonica
We are following our hearts
and curiosity with this project,
Christa and Gerald Schönfeldinger
The story begins around 1760 in London. Benjamin Franklin invents a magical instrument and calls it the glass armonica. His new “glass machine” is euphorically celebrated in the concert halls of Europe and goes on to play an indispensible role in European musical culture.
Mozart paid homage to the glass armonica in his final piece of chamber music; Haydn, Salieri and many others also composed works for this unique instrument.
In 1835, Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor has its premiere. Donizetti had originally planned to have the glass armonica accompany the heroine’s “mad scenes”, but no musicians to play the instrument could be found. The glass armonica’s splendid age was slowly drawing to a close. Only Richard Strauss remembered this musical treasure. In 1919, he featured the glass armonica in his opera Die Frau ohne Schatten.
Fortunately in the 21st century, the glass armonica is dazzling once again.
Whether in the Royal Albert Hall in London, in Vienna’s Musikverein and Staatsoper, at the Salzburg Festival, in the Konzerthaus Berlin, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg or Kennedy Center Washington, the glass armonica is making a comeback in the world’s concert halls and opera houses.
This Renaissance of the glass armonica is closely linked to the artistic career of the Viennese glass armonica duo Christa und Gerald Schönfeldinger. Since the 1990s, Christa and Gerald have been striving intensively to ensure that music from singing glass has returned for good. In order to continue their pursuit of this important development in musical history, the husband and wife artistic team have initiated the project “Nothing Compares”.
…reverberate from the glass armonica’s incomparable cosmos of sound. After almost 200 hundred
years of deep slumber, this musical “sleeping beauty” has awoken and the glass armonica’s enthralling soundscape can now be experienced anew.
1. Glass Armonica production
2. Training professional glass armonica musicians
3. Commissioned glass armonica compositions
4. CD production and music printing
5. Network building to encourage collaboration between artists
6. Obtaining financial support from sponsors
Both glass armonica production and the professional training of musicians to play the instrument are required for the glass armonica’s permanent and sustained revival. At present, though, it is not possible to meet the growing demand for instruments.
Another point of significant relevance is the composition of new pieces for the glass armonica. Following the successful manufacture of a prototype in collaboration with the Glashütte Comploj, the next major step is the serial production of glass armonicas in order to meet the demands of the music business, enable opera houses and orchestras to purchase the instruments and establish glass armonica teaching positions at schools of music.
Since our debut concert in 1993, we have been passionately devoted to pursuing our primary goal of reviving the glass armonica.
In doing so, we have been encouraged time and again by the radiant expressions on the faces of our concert goers to keep following the path of fascination that ensues from the glass armonica.
With the production of instruments and provision of instruction in the art of playing the glass armonica, our musical journey now has an additional intent, however we can only accomplish this new aim collectively with artists, composers and cultural institutions, foundations and patrons.
A fundamental need of the soul is music – and the glass armonica is an essential and vital musical element. This instrument’s tones generate powerful energy that strengthens us and helps us find ourselves. The glass armonica’s soundscape counters our increasingly noisy and fast-paced modern lifestyle with beauty, inspiration and time to slow down and reflect.
It is indeed a great privilege for us to be able to help convey the glass armonica’s brilliance to future generations.
Your support of this endeavour is greatly appreciated!
Christa and Gerald Schönfeldinger
At the beginning of the 1990s, the world of glass music opened its doors to the couple Christa und Gerald Schönfeldinger. Initially, they had both studied violin and embarked on orchestral careers.
That was when of all things a music riddle drew their attention to a particularly special instrument: the glass armonica. This chance encounter would go on to impact greatly on the path of their future artistic lives.
Today, Christa and Gerald are among the world’s foremost performers on the glass armonica and verrophone – a modern glass instrument.
Not only have they succeeded in bringing "historic" playing techniques that have to some extent been handed down over the centuries to a new level of perfection, they have also expanded the scope of performance on glass instruments by adding new techniques and contemporary music aesthetics to create unimagined possibilities of musical sound.
In their explorations of new musical horizons, the Wiener Glasharmonika Duo offers its public an enthralling symbiosis of poetical chamber music and a meditative soundscape of extraordinary intensity.
The duo performs concerts worldwide and their collaborations include performances with the
Philharmonic Orchestras of Vienna and Berlin, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Philharmonic Orchestra Tokyo and the National Symphony Orchestra Washington under the conductors Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Thielemann, Kent Nagano, Kirill Petrenko, Pierre Boulez and many others.