- Roswitha Sperber
(b Hamburg, Nov 17, 1946). German composer. In 1966 she entered the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Hamburg, where she studied music theory and composition with Diether de la Motte and Ligeti. From 1973 to 1980 she taught music theory at the Hochschule für Musik in Lübeck and from 1974 at the Hamburg Hochschule, where in 1988 she became a professor of composition and music theory. She has received many prizes and grants, including a three-month stay at the Boswil Künstlerhaus in Switzerland and a year at the Villa Massimo, Rome. Birnstein’s output includes orchestral, choral and chamber music. Her rigorously structural, crystalline and linear thought processes were originally stamped by the music of Webern, but it was Steve Reich’s minimalism, first encountered by her in 1972, that provided new inspiration at a time of disenchantment with the Darmstadt School. Her choral piece In terra (1978) is an example of how she used a form of ‘pattern technique’ based on small motivic units to produce her own minimalist style. In the 1980s she wrote a number of multi-layered compositions, including the Sextet (...