Alexander Liebermann: Music as Autobiography

“I like to think about music as a biography in sounds.”

Featured Work: Ear Training Challenge — Uirapuru (Musician Wren)

From bird song to quantum physics, composer and teacher Alexander Liebermann’s music explores the universe at levels minute and momentary, and epic and intangible. His ever-evolving collection of works, of which only a glimpse is offered here, invites deep wandering and listening.

His recent pieces include a soundtrack for the documentary film, “Frozen Corpses Golden Treasures,” about a search for the tombs of ancient steppe nomads; and “ear training challenges,” in which he transcribes voices of the natural world, such as those of wolves and whales. Learn more about his background, and his thoughts on music, teaching and tolerance, below.

Other featured works:

Ear Training Challenge — Weddell Seal
“I wrote ‘The Festivities in Minos’ for Alexandros Lyra. The composition is based on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur… In this clip, @alexandroslyra brilliantly performs my piece on the ruins of what was once the grand Minoan Palace of Phaistos.”

5 Questions for the Artist:

1. What is music to you?

Music is many things. It can be associated with tradition, dance emotions or feelings. In addition to feelings, I like to think about music as a biography in sounds; as a composer, I create sense by arranging notes. I believe that all of the music notes I write are the result of each of my experiences, up until the moment I write them.

Therefore, the music I compose is the product of all the impressions, encounters, traditions and feelings I have had throughout my life. Every composition is like an autobiography. I like to believe that this is true for all music.

2. What did you make in the past, and why?

I grew up in a musical family. My father is a violinist, my grandfather was a trumpet player, and my mother is a classical music enthusiast. Even though I started playing the violin at age two (as one does!), I never really knew if I would embark on a music career. In fact, before studying music, I studied history and philosophy for one year.

However, when I heard John Williams and Ennio Morricone’s film music, I knew that I wanted to become a composer.

3. What are you making now, and why?

Currently, I am pursuing my doctoral studies at Manhattan School of Music, where I am also teaching ear training to undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, I am a faculty member at Juilliard’s preparatory division Music Advancement Program, where I teach ear training and music theory.

Besides teaching, I continue to compose music whenever I can. Recent works include a monodrama for soprano and ensemble commissioned by the Deutsche Oper Berlin and a soundtrack to the documentary film Frozen Corpses Golden Treasures. Even though I embarked on a music career, I never stopped reading and learning about my other hobbies, such as philosophy, astronomy, physics, biology and history. Most of the works I write are referencing those subjects. In one of my last compositions, the performer explains the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle while playing music that structurally represents quantum behavior.

4. What are your hopes for the future?

My biggest wish for the future is that humankind will start to think as a collective and that there will be no more discrimination based on race, skin color, gender and sexual orientation, etc. I believe that education is one of the critical ingredients to stop discrimination. Our system needs to be improved, and education needs to be accessible for all.

5. What else would you like to say?

I want to quote Steven Hawking on the importance of teachers:

‘The human mind is an incredible thing. It can conceive of the magnificence of the heavens and the intricacies of the basic components of matter. Yet for each mind to achieve its full potential, it needs a spark. The spark of enquiry and wonder. Often that spark comes from a teacher.’

As long as I am teaching, I hope to become such a teacher.

Artist supplied bio:

The music of award-winning composer Alexander Liebermann has been played in Europe, North & South America, and Asia by renowned artists, ensembles and orchestras such as fiddler Gilles Apap, baritone François Le Roux, pianists Philippe Bianconi and Jeff Cohen, the New York Virtuoso Singers, the RBO Leipzig, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Nice Philharmonic, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Stradivari-Soloists with members of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Mr. Liebermann received his BM from the Hanns Eisler music conservatory in Berlin where he studied with Maria Baptist and his MM from the Juilliard School where he studied with Samuel Adler, Philip Lasser, and Steven Stucky. Currently, Mr. Liebermann is enrolled in the doctoral program at Manhattan School of Music where he studies with Reiko Fueting. He is a faculty member at Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program since 2017.

Find Alexander Liebermann on Instagram and YouTube.

Learn more about the Ask Artists interview series and submissions.

Julia Travers, Instagram

I’m a writer who runs the Ask Artists interview series. Find interviews here along with some other stories. More of my work: https://linktr.ee/JuliaTravers

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