Nikolai Badinski

composer, violinist, musicologist

Николай Бадински

19.12.1937Sofia – Bulgaria

Nikolai Badinski was born in Sofia, Bulgaria on 19 December 1937 and began violin lessons at the age of five. His attempts at composition also date from an early age (including an opera in which the orchestra consists of violins and percussion). He completed the Academy of Music, Sofia in 1961. From 1962 until 1976 he lived in East-Berlin, where he attended Masterclass for Composition at the Academy of Arts (1967-70). Also Masterclasses at the Acca¬de¬mia Musicale, Siena, Italy 1975 and 1976. Badinski founded and directed the Chamber Ensemble „G.F.Haendel“ and a String Quartet in East Germany and worked as composer, docent, soloist, concertmaster, special advisor for musical education. In 1976 he escaped to the West. Participated actively in the Darmstadt International Courses for New Music (working with Ligeti, Halffter, Stockhausen, Xenakis and Kagel) also giving lectures and several of his compositions were performed there. He has been guest professor at the Universities of Stockholm and Copenhagen, and lectured in several European countries, also visiting professor in Stanford University,USA. For many years he has worked intensively with various groups, seeking new ways to activate music listeners. He is a mem¬ber of International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) German Section, German Composer’s Union, International Haendel Society, International Richard Wagner Union and since 1983 Member of the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities in Paris. He is co founder of the ‚Initiative Neue Musik’ Berlin. Performances of his works and composer portraits of him had been broadcasts throughout Europe, the USA and Asia.
His works have been/are performed by ensembles such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, Symphony Orchestra of the Südwestfunk in Baden-Baden, the Philharmonic Octet Berlin, Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Ural Philharmonic Orchestra Yekaterinburg, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Academica Salzburg, Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Arditti Quartet London, the Choir of Radio France, Soloists Ensemble of the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Ens. L’instant donné Paris, Philharmonia Hungarica, the Nederland Vocaal Ensemble in Hilversum… He is author of articles, chiefly in contemporary music.

Badinski uses a richly varied palette of compositional devices in his music, without associating himself with any particular school, method or trend in composition. Among others in his works he stylises or changes (verfremdet) elements or micro-elements from Bulgarian and other Balkan folk music from various historical strata, as well as from sacred music. He sees in every folk music a rich source for research and inspiration. The composer’s musical creative work – above 230 pieces – also embraces new sound possibilities and their apperception, as seen for example, in his electroacoustic work „H2O (Water) Music“. Among his compositions are ballets, three violin concertos, Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, Concerto for Harpsichord „Omaggio a Bach“, „Klavieriada“ – Concerto for Piano and „Piano-orchestra“, First Amekdil (Symphony) with Soprano, Second Amekdil (Symphony)„AaAaN“, „Reflections of the Wisdom” for S.,Bar.,Choir and Orch.”, „The Intoxicated Bat”, „Seven Memorial Stones” (Requiem), „Homage to Stravinsky“ for Strings, and further music for orchestra, „Meditations on Words and Songs of Solomon”, „Imaginary Relation to the Saga of Orpheus“,„The Ruins under Sofia“ – Octet, „Silenzio Disturbato“ – Sextet, three String Quartets, Wind Quintet and other chamber music for different groups as well as for solo instruments, „Mannigfaltigkeiten“ (Diversities) – an “Album for Organists (and…)”, the Decipio series, Choral-Cycles „Martialphonien” for 12 Voices (Martialis) and „Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée“ (Apollinaire), vocal, electroacoustic – „Rotation” („In Memory of a Cosmonaut”), „Homage to Kafka”, „Dostoevsky Reflec-tions“, „Phoenixe”, „Sevtopolis” – and experimental music.

His principal publisher is Universal Edition (Vienna, New York, London).
Honours and prizes include First Place at the 28th International Competition for Composition, Viotti, Italy 1977, at the International Competition for Composers, Stockhausen, Italy 1978 and at the 29th International Competition for Composers, Viotti, Italy 1978, International Prize for Symphonic Music, Italy 1979, and Prix du Rome (Villa Massimo) 1979/80, Prix de Paris 1981; invitations from the Electr. Studio Utrecht/NL (1983 and 1984). In 1985/6 invitation from the French government (in Paris with scholarship). 1987 – Composer-in-Residence at the Djerassi Foundation, California and Fulbright Grant. Since 1977 freelance Contributor to the BBC, London.
1997 he have been elected by The International Board of Research in The American Biographical Institute for “Man of the Year”.
There are numerous CDs (and LPs) with his music.

His book “..Between the sounds..” have been published in Germany.
Painters in several countries – for instance J.C. Friedrich, Enzo Santini, I. Pavlov – have painted pic¬tur¬¬es based of his music. Art-films were created presenting the composer and his music (for example, TV of SWF Baden-Baden, Germany).
Prominent personalities of the international music life have expressed great admiration for Nikolai Badinski’s music.
György Ligeti characterizes it as “very refined, very highly rated in its quality.”
The ‘musical Pope’ H.-H. Stuckenschmidt praised the “unmistakable personal language” of his music in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and wrote that “one is captivated until the end”.
The notable musicologist Carl Dahlhaus has written that “Badinski combines a well-founded and many-sided musical education with an acute sense for contemporary tendencies; there is a balance between the inclination towards the experimental and an aesthetic conscience dedicated to structural unity.”
From a composer portrait on Kulturradio RBB/Berlin by Andreas Göbel: “Nikolai Badinski is an astute composer of masterly craftsmanship and of broad knowledge. His repertoire of compositional techniques is rich […] He composes with an own, individual voice…”

Critical Reviews (until 1982):

György Ligeti characterises Badinski´s Music as „very refined, very highly rated in its quality“. (1980)

The German musicologist Prof. Carl Dahlhaus: „Badinski combines a well-founded and many-sided musical education with an acute sense for present tendencies; there is a balance between the inclination towards the experimental and an aesthetic conscience dedicated to structural unity“. (1979)

The ‘Neue Musikzeitung’ (GFR, Febr. 1982) refers to „Omaggio a Bach“ as „an important repertoire contribution to the harpsichord music in the twentieth century“.

„His music is far from mere contrivance and shows a true creative impulse…All these compositions, while uncompromisingly ‚modern’, seem to aim at giving contemporary music a human voice…“
(London, July 1981 – ‘Record Reviews‘)

„The Concerto (Violin Concerto Nr.3) was very successfully performed as world premiere with the Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra under Cristobal Halffter and Christiane Edinger as soloist.“
(‘Deutsche Tagespost‘, GFR – Nov. 1980)

The German musicologist and music writer Prof. H.H. Stuckenschmidt: „Der Solopart (Violinkonzert Nr. 3) ist extrem schwierig, aber aus dem Geist der Violine erfunden…der verteufelt schweren Novität erspielte sie (Chr. Edinger) einen Erfolg.“ (Frankfurt, Dec. 1980 – ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung‘)
(tr.: The solo part of the violin concerto Nr. 3 is extremely difficult, but springs from the spirit of the violin – Christiane Edinger´s performance of this fiendishly challenging innovative piece was a complete success.)

„Nikolai Badinski has created a remarkable and rich oeuvre.“ (Paris, April 1982 – Radio France)

„His music has really a truly new sonority.“ (Rome, June 1981 – Radio RAI)

„Badinski´s music displays an exciting richness of invention, an abundance of constructive
solutions and a securely mastered professional knowledge.”
(Sofia, 1974 – Prof. Letschev, ‘Musical Weeks of Sofia‘)

„Nikolai Badinski is a recognised composer of serious music; his works extend from symphonies over violin concertos, ballet music and small orchestral pieces, to chamber music for sometimes unusual instrumentation.“ (Zürich, 1974 – ‘Die Tat‘)

„A concert violinist himself, the composer is superbly acquainted with the play-technical and sound possibilities of the solo instrument…“ (to the Violin Concerto Nr.2) (Berlin,1974 – ‘Musik und Gesellschaft‘)

„In the concert, the performance of the violinist Nikolai Badinski, accompanied by the orchestra, was received with great applause.“ (‘Der Neue Weg‘ – 1966, GDR)

„Badinski shaped the violin part with soft elegance and mobility.“
(‘Mitteldeutsche Neueste Nachrichten‘ – 1967)

„Fin da piccolo Nikolai Badinski è stato musicista, forse per tradizione familiare o come un vero ‘enfant prodige‘ se oggi ha già una fama europea…” (Florence, 1974 – ‘La Nazione‘)


website: Nikolai Badinski


Stage works:

The Storm – ballet in three acts for young people (1972, 1973, Berlin);
Martialphony for 12 voices (with action) after Epigrams by M. V. Martialis (1975; 1984, Paris);
Music to a Psychological and Fantastic Choreography (1983-86; 1987, Berlin).

Vocal and instrumental:

“We are still here, the Sun is turning on…” Cantata for medium voice/clarinet/vibraphone, French horn and trombone, after Salvatore Quasimodo (1970);
Wise Thoughts for choir and orchestra (1983-84).

Music for orchestra:

Symphony N2 ”AaAaN” (1978);
Knock at the Exit (1981-82);
The Contaminated BatВ  surrealistically encountering Johann Strauss and Bach (1991-92).

Concert suites:
N1 and N2 from the ballet The Storm (1972).

Violin Concertos:

Concerto N2 (1971-72);
Concerto N3 (1971-72).

The Songs of Orpheus for solo violin and imaginary orchestra (1987).

For string orchestra:

Youth (1973);
Glory to Stravinsky for violins (1978-79) (I version for 12 solo violins; second version for string orchestra);
Seven Memorial Stones in memory of the Holocaust victims (1997);
Impulses for 3 trumpets, 3 trombones and string orchestra (1999; space version – 2002).

Triptych for violin, percussion and string orchestra (Violin Concerto N1) (1970-71);
Secret Structures for string orchestra and bassoon/bass clarinet/tube (1982).

Chamber music:

Glory to Bach Concerto for harpsichord, flute, bassoon, oboe, clarinet, 2 violas, French horn and violoncello (1977);
Ruins Under Sofia Octet for clarinet, bassoon, 2 French horns and harpsichord (1972);
Violated Silence Sextet for flute, French horn, violoncello, viola and clarinet (1976);
Moscow Quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon (1978);
Glory to Bela Bartok for string quintet (1978);
“Oh, Happy Man, What a Marvellous Horn and What a Beautiful Melody…” after poems by Petrarch, for oboe, clarinet, bassoon and piano (1981);
Sublime and Terrestrial for celesta, French horn, viola and violoncello (1997); Berlin Divertimento for flute, clarinet and cembalo (1968);
Picture for trio viola, French horn and violoncello (1975);
Attempt to Communicate for oboe/clarinet and bassoon (1978-79);
Interchange for Three Players on the Seine (1981-83);
Relations for violin, piano and orchestra (1982-83);
Thing of Samuel Beckett for French horn, violoncello and cembalo (1987);
Jesus Christ for viola, French horn and cembalo (1995-96);
Sonatina for two violins (1966);
Sonata-conversation for flute and bassoon, lyrics by Fransois Villon (1967);
Piece for piano and violin (1968);
Preltan – two pieces for viola and piano (versions for viola/violoncello and piano, viola and French horn, violoncello and cembalo, viola, French horn, violoncello and cymbal (1973);
Scripts for flute and piano (1981);
Stone Reflections for trombone/French horn/tube and piano;
Four sonnets for solo clarinet after lyrics by Beher (1969);
Dialogues for solo viola (1973);
Lateo for double bass (1973);
5-1 Euphoria for double bass (1974);
Facinus 1 for flutes (1977), 2 for oboes (one musician) (1982);
Quotidian 1 for violin solo (1977);
Five Images through the Window for one musician-percussionist after James Joyce (1997).

For piano:

Five pieces for piano on a dodecaphonic series (1968);
Yugi (Play) for 4 hands (1980);
The Secrets of the No More New World (1984-86);
The Other Christmas Music (transcendental messages).

For two pianos:

Himalayas God (1990);
Crystals (1999-2000).

For five pianos:

Decipio 3 Claviriada in 3 movements for 5 pianos (concerto for piano and orchestra of pianos) (1977-78).

For piano and instruments:

Fragility and Vitality (2000).

Vocal music:

Amekdil (Symphony N1) for soprano (1967);
Song for soprano and piano after lyrics by Erich Kaestner (1969);
Poem for bass and orchestra, lyrics by Bojilov (1969);
Piece for soprano and piano, lyrics by Vogelweide (1975);
The Woman for voice and piano, lyrics by Maurer (1975);
The Smoothness of Sea for soprano and percussion, lyrics by Pasolini (1984-86);
Six capriccios for baritone and piano, lyrics by Federico Garcia Lorca (1991).

For organ:
Differences – album (1975-76);
Stay in My Life (Saint John: 15,9) for organ (1993);
From Master’s Legacy – cycle for organ and 3 trombones or other instruments (1998).

Electroacoustic and electronic music:

For 2 variable Groups and Tape (1974).

Decipio 1 for double bass and tape /or for 4 double basses/ (1976);
Decipio 2 for oboe and tape or for 5 oboes and caw bells (1977);
Decipio 4 for trombone and tape or for 5 trombones and voices (1978);
5 Reflections on Texts and Songs by Solomon for solo violin and imaginary orchestra/tape/string instruments (1979-80);
6 In Memory of Marcel Proust and Luigi Nono (Saxophoniade) for saxophone and tape/12 saxophones (1995);
7 Harpiade East-West for solo harp and imaginary orchestra of harps (tape or 32 harps) (1990);
8 We Are Like a Flash of Lightning for bassoon and tape (3 bassoons and double bass) (1995-96).

Amekdil (Symphony N3) Temporary Situations for big orchestra – CD, LP.

For imaginary orchestra:

Visualised Dreams for 4 imaginary orchestras (1979-82);
Three Expressions for soprano and imaginary orchestra/tape, lyrics by Malkovsky, Filombe, Volken (1981);
Capriccio for St. Francesco for baritone and imaginary orchestra/tape (1981-82);
Infinities’ Approaching for enlarged instruments and tape (1982);
Six Orpheus Songs for violin and tape (1988-89).

Electroacoustic pieces:

Rotation (in memory of a Cosmonaut) (1974);
Sevtopol (1974);
Phoenix (1974);
Thoughts about Dostoevsky (1979);
Memory of Kafka (1979);
Meeting Orpheus (1979-80);
H2O Music (1980);
Music With Paper (1980-81);
Airmusic (1980-81);
Ro-ma-vi-lla-ma-ssi-mo (1981);
Musical Visual Correspondence II (1981-82);
Electroacoustic Dance (1984-85);
Electroacoustic Scherzo (1984-85);
Rite, Endless Figure, Kukeri and Bagpipes – electroacoustic pieces in quadraphony (1983-85);
Psalm for Freedom (1983).

Music for computer:

Imaginary Trio (1980);
Venetians (1984-85).

Choral music for a capella choir:

Bestiarium, after Guillaume Apollinaire (1976);
Maria from the cycle of Bible names for choir (1994).