GEORGES LENTZ (b 1965 )
Through a number of high profile international performances, Georges Lentz has established himself as one of Australia’s leading composers—this despite the fact that he is far from being a prolific writer. Given to self-criticism, he rarely embarks on new compositions, is mostly shy of accepting commissions, and tends to work on each of his pieces over a number of years, often tackling several of them at the same time.
Born in Luxembourg (Europe) in 1965, Georges Lentz grew up in the picturesque town of Echternach with its medieval abbey, an environment that has influenced his music as well as his general outlook. He studied violin and music theory at the Luxembourg Conservatoire, the Paris Conservatoire National Superieur, and the Hannover Musikhochschule. He studied composition in Luxembourg with Alexander Mullenbach and followed Peter Sculthorpe’s classes at the University of Sydney. Since 1989, he has been working on a cycle of pieces called “Caeli enarrant…” (“The Heavens are telling…”—beginning of Psalm XIX), which are based on astronomy and reflect the composer’s spiritual beliefs, questions, and doubts. He has been living in Australia since 1990.
Georges Lentz’ compositions have been widely played in many European countries as well as in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China. Many leading ensembles have performed his works, including the Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Continuum New York, Ensemble Oriol Berlin, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble 24 Sydney, Vilnius String Quartet, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, and the Cleveland New Music Ensemble. He has been a guest lecturer at universities in the United States and Australia.
Georges Lentz was awarded a special commendation as one of the top entries at the 1991 International Composers’ Competition in Vienna, and in 1997 he won the ‘Paul Lowin Prize’ for orchestral composition, the most prestigious composition prize in Australia.
Since 1994, Georges Lentz has been working on a large work-in-progress called ‘Mysterium’ (“Caeli enarrant…” VII). A section from ‘Mysterium’ was premièred at the 1997 “June in Buffalo” New Music Festival (N.Y./U.S.A.). In October 1998, a revised version of “Caeli enarrant…” III was premièred at the Berlin Philharmonie by Ensemble Oriol Berlin conducted by Peter Rundel. The European première of Birrung was given in June 1999 by the Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam. In February 2000, Ngangkar for orchestra, commissioned by Edo de Waart and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, was premièred at the Sydney Opera House for the opening of the SSO’s 2000 Philips Master Series. Ensemble Continuum New York first performed a new chamber music work, Nguurraa, at the ISCM World Music Days in Luxembourg in October 2000. In February 2001, Camerata Australia premièred Te Deum laudamus for strings at City Recital Hall in Sydney, before taking the piece on their tour of North America. Three territorial premières of Ngangkar took place in 2001: the Japanese première in August (Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Suntory Hall Tokyo) and the British and German premières in September (BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin). A performance of Ngangkar by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra was performed in April 2003. Another new orchestral work for Edo de Waart and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Guyuhmgan , was given its first performances in the SSO’s Philips Master Series at the Sydney Opera House on August 22, 24, 25, and 27, 2001. The work was performed in June 2002 by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Markus Stenz. Another performance of Guyuhmgan by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra was made in September 2003. The work also topped the list of 9 recommended works at the 2002 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. In March 2002, the Australian Chamber Orchestra performed Te Deum laudamus throughout Australia in concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Canberra.
2002 also marked the release of a chamber and ensemble CD music by Lentz, which was released on the Naxos label in November.
Another orchestral work was premièred in June 2003 by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra conducted by James MacMillan, while another for orchestra with solo viola, co-commissioned by the BBC and the Echternach International Music Festival, was premièred by the Luxembourg Philharmonic and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in 2005.
Georges Lentz’ works are published by Universal Edition in Vienna.
Pizzicato interviews Georges Lentz