Manfred Werder (born 1965, living and working in Zürich, Switzerland) is a composer and pianist. He studied at the Lucerne Conservatory and at the Berne Conservatory (achieving the recognition ‘Virtuosité avec distinction’), as well as in Paris with Claude Helffer. His scores take very different forms, from concise instructions that briefly sketch a sonorous situation to words found in, and quotations taken from, books by different authors. Nevertheless, all of them converge in his vocation to awaken sensibility towards the ‘sounding of the world’.
Winner of international composition awards such as the Forum Junger Komponisten of WDR Köln (Germany) in 1992, he has been an artist in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 1994, the Cal Arts California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles and the Q-O2 in Brussels, among other places. He has presented his work in different cities in Chile, Japan, the United States, Germany, South Korea, Mexico and other countries, having worked both in concert halls and art centres and in urban and natural spaces performing sound interventions.
Outstanding among his work are pieces such as ‘Stück 1998’, a procedural composition of 4000 pages, each of which is performed only once by different musicians in a given context, or his Performer Series works, a set of compositions for soloists and ensembles of different sizes that indicate a temporal configuration of sound events and silences, which grow as their pages are interpreted; for example, Ein(e) Ausführende(r) is almost 700 Pages in length. His compositions have been performed by internationally renowned instrumentalists within the contemporary and experimental music scene such as Rhodri Davies, Patrick Farmer, Eva Coronado, Antoine Beuger and Michael Pisaro.
His essays, in which he addresses different aspects of his practice as a composer as well as themes related to listening and the sound of the spaces we inhabit, have been published in books such as ‘Desplazamientos: indicaciones en los bordes/Textos, entrevistas, partituras’ (Chile, 2013), ‘Chine/Europe: Percussions dans la pensée’ (France, 2005), ‘Words and Music’ (United Kingdom – United States, 2012) and magazines such as ‘Revue & Corrigée’ 93 (France, 2012) and ‘Musik Denken’ (Switzerland, 2007). His work has also been written about by other musicians and theorists such as Ana Cecilia Medina (‘LLEOM Laboratorio de Literaturas Extendidas y Otras Materialidades’, Mexico, 2014), Will Montgomery (‘Five Ways of Looking at Manfred Werder’ in Kunstmusik, Germany, 2013), John Lely (‘Manfred Werder, in Word Events’, United Kingdom – United States, 2012) and Taku Sugimoto (‘Logic and Notation’, in Tacet Experimental Music Review, France, 2013).
Different interpretations of his work have been published by Edition Wandelweiser and other record labels such as Heresy (Spain), Winds Measure Recordings (United States), Skiti (Japan), Cathnor (United Kingdom), Futow (Japan), and Nueni Recs. (Basque Country). His collaborations with other composers have been published by the Japanese label Slub (with Taku Sugimoto), and the American Erstwhile Records (with Toshiya Tsunoda) among others. As an interpreter at the piano he has published a CD with hatArt, performing the work ‘Bridges’ by the American composer James Tenney.