Composing in the 21st century
Statement of the artist for the «Postcard Project» of the House of World Cultures
´How can we learn to live with, to understand and - yes! - love heterogeneity, difference, unevenness, contingency? How can we preserve our heritage of structure, order and foresight - and yet live a life in improvisation, embracing and dancing with the unforeseen? How can we let go of our self-importance and become aware? How do we learn again to listen, not to explore, to hear, not to observe?´
Sandeep Bhagwati, 2007
Sandeep Bhagwati, born 1963 in Mumbai, Indo-German composer / performer / writer / conductor / curator, now resident primarily in Germany, of mostly stage, chamber and multimedia works that have been performed in Asia and Europe.
Sandeep Bhagwati studied composition with Edison Denisov and Boguslaw Schäffer and conducting with Kurt Prestel at the Salzburg Mozarteum from 1984-87 and composition with Wilhelm Killmayer at the Musikhochschule Munich 1987 –1990, where he graduated with distinction in 1990. He also attended the annual Cursus de Composition et Informatique Musicale at IRCAM in 1995/96 where he encountered Brian Ferneyhough and Tristan Murail, was composer-in-residence at Royaumont 1997 and at the Abbaye de la Prée (near Bourges), both on scholarships.
Among his honors are the Europäischer Kompositionspreis from the Akademie der Künste in Berlin in 1991 and the Ernst-von-Siemens-Förderpreis ( in 1992 and 2003, both for festivals he founded. He has served as a fellow at the ZKM Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe (1998/99) and IRCAM (97/98) and served as composer-in-residence to the Orchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn (1999-2000). His music has been featured at many leading festivals, including the Münchener Biennale (1998), Eclat Stuttgart (1999), Sangat Mumbai (2000), maerzmusik berlin (2002) and Darmstadt (2003), and his music/theatre/text/light/audio installation-performances have been shown in Berlin, Klagenfurt, Linz, Munich, Paris, Stuttgart, and Ulm.
Sandeep Bhagwati is also active in other positions. As a writer, he has written many articles for European and Indian publications, many of which appear in the collection “Komponieren im 21.Jahrhundert” (1998, Beiträge zur elektronischen Musik 9, Kunstuniversität Graz ISSN 1024-5391). He is a regular contributor of music feature programmes to German public radio stations. He served as artistic director of the concert series “KammerMusikUtopien” in Munich in 1989/90 and with Moritz Eggert, he co-founded the bi-annual Contemporary Music festival “A*Devantgarde” in Munich in 1991 and served as its artistic director from 1991-95. He also assisted Hans Werner Henze and Gerd Kühr with workshops at the Münchener Biennale from 1992-94 and founded the festival “KlAngRiffe – Festival for Risky Music” in Karlsruhe in 2003.
With Gauri Tripathi and the Ondine Ensemble, he gave composition and dance workshops for children in London in 1993 and 1997. He has taught as Professor for Composition and MultiMedia at the Musikhochschule Karlsruhe from 2000. He also taught as a visiting professor of electronic music at the Institut für Elektronische Musik of the Universität Graz in 1998.
As a performer, he has acted in his own performances as body artist, text and voice performer and as live-electronics performer. In connection with his site-specific works he has designed and re-defined concert spaces,has designed light and audio installations and has created ephemeral video/object installations. He also is a competent conductor, but has – for lack of time for an additional career - up to now conducted mainly his own music, albeit with good ensembles and at important venues.
Sandeep Bhagwati currently lives in Quebec, Canada.
Author: House of World Cultures
Quênâh – Szenen einer Katastrophe (music theatre work, text by the composer, after interviews with Bosnian refugees, Elias Canetti, Franz Kafka, Michel Butor, Heiner Müller, Gabrielle Adler, Henry Miller), 7 mixed voices, 1995
Macht Masse Mensch (music theatre work, text by Gunna Wendt, the composer, after Elias Canetti), baritone, 3 actors, 5 mixed voices, small orchestra (16 players), 1995
chants translucent ephemeral (music theatre work/performance, text by the composer), any 1-36 voices, computer ad libitum, 1996
Three Women Trois Femmes Drei Frauen (music theatre work/installation, text by the composer), female voice, actress, female cello, computer, 1996-97
Ramanujan (5 act opera, libretto by the composer), 10 soloists, violin, small orchestra (20 players), live computer, 1997
Jungfrau von Orleans (incidental music, play by Friedrich von Schiller), violin, viola, cello, live electronics, 1998; The Bacchae (incidental music, play by Euripides, actresses also sing, make sounds), 5 actresses, 1998
stroboscopic arias (abstract-movement scenes, text by the composer), voice, female dancer, double bass, 2000 – (ongoing work; may be performed by one player)
Tag – Sinfonia sacra (text by Novalis), boy soprano, soprano, baritone, mixed chorus, large orchestra, 1993
Ritual Virility Machine, large orchestra, 1998
Entrances, large orchestra, 2000; l´essence de l´insensible, small orchestra (12 players) (around hall, without conductor), click track, 2000
Wörterbuch der Winde (texts by Percy Bysshe Shelley, St.-John Perse, the composer), Chinese ensemble (male voice \Chinese opera tradition, sheng, gu zheng, pipa, liuqin, yangqin, percussion), Western ensemble (soprano, flute, clarinet, viola, cello, double bass, percussion) (2 conductors), 2002
inside. a native land (concerto), trombone, 8 orchestral groups (24-64 total players) (without conductor), live electronics, 2002-04; Rasas, small orchestra (16 players), 2000 – (ongoing work)
Sonata, cello, piano, 1990
Variations (string quartet no. 1), 1991
Exterritorial I, ´Flucht/Fremde´ (players also shout text by Edmond Jabès), viola, cello, double bass, 1993
alaam al-mithral (string quartet no. 2), 1995
why sing why cry, violin, cello, 2000
a whirl of perspectives, violin, 2000
PindarExzisen (texts by Pindar, Friedrich Hölderlin), untrained female voice, speaker, shaman, dulcimer, zither, viola, 2002
awkwardly skirting disaster, cello, 2001-03
Exterritorial III, ´Finisterre´ (text by Fernando Pessoa), 12 mixed voices, organ, 1993
Exterritorial II, ´Still allein´ (text by Ernst Herbeck), baritone, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, percussion, 1993
Raggerlieder (text by Bernhard Ragger), soprano, piano, 1994
Katarakt Meer Katarakt (text by Dylan Thomas), soprano, string quartet, 2 percussion, 1995
Tre Canti di Sigismondo d´India, mezzo-soprano, string quartet, 1995; Viel Glück (text by Hans Ulrich Treichel), high voice, piano, 1999
Grünbein Lieder (text by Durs Grünbein), mezzo-soprano, string quartet, 2000
songs on nothing (text by Dilip Chitre), mezzo-soprano, violin, 2002
Lieder des Lichts (text by Raoul Schrott), mezzo-soprano, cello, 2003
To those born far away from home (text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, violin, cello, 2003
no body no cry, CD, 1998
4´33" absolute zero remix, CD, 2001
Die Gesänge der Ghat Biwa, CD, 2002
Deine dumme Hand Holtz CD 2002 two to two to two two, CD, 2003-04
Cantus ad ventum (site-specific performance/open-air event, text by the composer), 5 early music voices, 3 mixed choruses, 4 hot-air balloons, 1995
Mind the Gaps (performance, text by the composer), female voice, speaker, 12 objects (in vitrines), light/room installation, live electronics, 1995
Schnee Schrift Sprache Schweben (performance, text by the composer), 2 folk voices, speaker, Alphorn, dulcimer, zither, film, 1995
Zukunftsmusik (performance, all players also roar, speak, whisper), soprano, English horn, trumpet, violin, double bass, 1999
making music (site-/date-specific light/audio/object installations, audience-participation/text performances, text by the composer), voice, dancer, small orchestra (14 players), 2000
neither here nor there (site-/performer-specific light/audio/film installations, text performances, text by the composer), butoh dancer, kathak dancer, performer (with interactive body suit), carillon, percussion, 2000
urban.dis.urban (multimedia-concert installation), film (by Yvette Mattern), 2001 (includes compositions, remixes by 10 composers)
>>forwardI20.02.2002Irewind<< (site-/date-specific performance/palindromic music), 2002 (a compilation of many works by various composers using palindromes)