Biography


"Born in Ireland, now a Swiss resident,
Brennan perfectly matches the romanticism
of the one place with the watchmaker
exactness of the other"

Brian Morton, THE WIRE

Celtic Roots and Swiss Watchmaker Exactness
  Pianist and composer John Wolf Brennan, born in Dublin, Ireland, has been widely acclaimed as an outstanding musician. His distinctive style, marked by a deep interest in contemporary archeology, a very personal quest for an adventurous avantgarde, an ongoing research of his Celtic roots and his "Swiss watchmaker exactness" ("The Wire") sets him apart. His compositions cover a wide spectrum of musical concepts and methods, ranging from piano pieces ("inside and outside" - prepared and unprepared) to vocal scores ("Night.Shift" - an opera after a libretto by Rudolph Straub, based on W.H.Auden's "The Age of Anxiety"; "Sculpted Sound", "Euratorium", "Bestiarium", "PaniConversations", works for choir), from chamber ("Epithalamium" after James Joyce's "Chamber Music"; "Alef Bet - an Ori-ental Peace Piece" for Israeli oboist Ori Meiraz; "A Golly Gal's Way to Galway Bay" for James Galway, "Nearly Charming") to orchestral works, both for classical and jazz ensembles, creating music rich in (a)tonal textures.
   
Composition, Improvisation and...
 

At the University of Fribourg, he studied musicology, film and literature. He continued his studies at the Musikhochschule Luzern: piano (Eva Serman), harmony (Peter Benary), conducting (Alois Koch, Hans Zihlmann, belcanto singing (Walter Meier) and organ (Monika Henking). Further studies in composition with Karl Berger at CMS Woodstock/New York and James Wilson at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. Masterclasses in composition with Ennio Morricone, Edison Denissov, Klaus Huber, Heinz Holliger and Hanspeter Kyburz.. Together with Marianne Schroeder, Jean-Luc Darbellay, Michel Schneider, Christian Henking, Alfons Karl Zwicker and Michael Radanovics he is a member of the Swiss composer's group "Groupe Lacroix".

   
...Comprovisation: Performances and Projects
  Concert tours regularly bring him to Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Japan, Canada and the USA. He has recorded five solo albums ("Flügel", "The Well-Prepared Clavier", the blue trilogy) as well as with Lindsay Cooper, Norma Winstone, Julie Tippetts, Corin Curschellas, Magda Vogel, Alexandra Prusa, Charlotte Hug, Shirley Anne Hofmann, Gabriele Hasler, Marianne Schroeder, Alex Cline, Robert Dick, Hans Kennel, Arkady Shilkloper, Tscho Theißing, Daniele Patumi, Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford, Chris Cutler, Peter Whyman, Eddie Prévost, Simon Picard, Marc Unternährer, Urs Leimgruber, Christy Doran, Gene Coleman, Christian Wolfarth, Christian Weber, Bertrand Denzler. Brennan has also worked with Guillermo Gregorio, Peggy Lee, Dylan van der Schyff, Jennifer Walshe, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Chris Massey, Joëlle Léandre, Tim Berne, Ray Anderson, Elton Dean, Nana Vasconcelos, Klaus Koch, Fredy Studer, Don Friedman, Mark Sanders, Paolo Moura, Steve Goodman, Peter Schärli, Lars Lindvall, David Hopkins, Fritz Hauser, Peter Hollinger, Steve Argüelles. Currently he is performing with his international quartet "Pago Libre" (w/Arkady Shilkloper, Tscho Theißing & Daniele Patumi); "Momentum" (w/Christian Wolfarth, Bertrand Denzler & Christian Weber), "Trio Aurealis" w/Robert Dick & D.Patumi); "MinuteAge" (w/Margrit Rieben and Reto Senn); "pipelines" (w/Hans Kennel and Marc Unternährer); "Shooting Stars & Traffic Lights" (w/Alex Cline, John Voirol, T.Theißing and D.Patumi) and Gabriele Hasler in "OrganIC VoICes". With "SinFONietta" and the "Creative Works Orchestra", he has also conducted and written for major orchestras.
   
Sculpted Sounds: "Calculated Ecstasy"
  His continuing interest in literature and the performing arts has led him to write numerous works for theatre, dance, sound sculptures, installations and acoustical environments, such as the "klangschiff" (a steamboat on Lake Lucerne), a setting of Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" in a forest, watermusic in a swimming pool, an aleatoric quartet for two prehistoric lurs, alphorn & prepared piano, new music for the Glockenspiel at the Swiss Centre, London, and "Sculpted Sound", concrete poetry by Hans Arp, Eugen Gomringer, André Thomkins and others set to music. John Wolf Brennan also works as music teacher, gives lectures and workshops (Cortona weeks, ETH Zurich). With his wife Béatrice and their three daughters Móreen, Enya and Jayne he lives in Weggis/Lucerne, Central Switzerland.

A w a r d s :

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 1989 Werkjahr by the Dienemann-Foundation/City of Lucerne

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 1991 Grant by the SARNA Jubilee Foundation for "Bestiarium"

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 1993 Stipendium of the BINZ39 Art Foundation Zurich & the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland

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 1993 Prize of the NFA (National Flute Association, USA) for flute pieces
"3 ver-flix-te Flötenstücke"

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 1994 Award of the Jubilee Foundation of the United Bank of Switzerland UBS

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 1994 "Miglior disco del anno" in the Jazzpoll of "MusicaJazz",
for the CD "TEN ZENTENCES"

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 1995 Portrait Concert of the IGNM (Internat. Society for New Music)

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 1996 "Album of the Year" in "Jazzthetik", Munich, for the CD "Pago Libre"

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 1997 Invited by the Hindemith Foundation to write the octet
"Nearly Charming" for the Moscow Ensemble for Contemporary Music

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 1997 London fellowship by the Zuger Kulturstiftung Landis & Gyr
 1998 New music for the Glockenspiel at the Swiss Centre, London
commissioned by the Swiss Arts Council "Pro Helvetia"
 2000 Grant by the MARKANT-Stiftung Schwyz for the opera project "Night.Shift", libretto by Rudolph Straub after W.H.Auden
 2002 12 "Sélections" (Swiss Grammys) by Swiss Radio International
for twelve CDs in succession (1997 - 2002)
 2002 Prix de la Fondation SUISA 2002

 

CH-6353 Weggis