Christian Blaha

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Blaha, Christian Cyril; Christiaan Blaha

(Middelburg, 1972 - )

Composer, conductor, arranger, pianist and church musician, active in Middelburg (2000-present)
Christian Cyril Blaha

From the age of seven, Blaha took piano lessons at the Zeeland School of Music with, amongst others, Leen de Broekert and Gé Audenaerdt. After high school, he studied music technology in Hilversum for one year, prior to his study at the Brabants Conservatorium in Tilburg. There he spent ten years studying piano, composition and choir direction with amongst others, Joop Albracht, Paul Komen, Alexandre Hrisinade en Louis Buskens. Besides that, he took organ lessons with Bram Beekman, singing lessons with Frans Fiselier and orchestral conducting with Ed Spanjaard in Amsterdam. For choral conducting and composition (cum laude), he received a Master of Arts for both. Furthermore, he participated in master classes with Alfred Reed, Menachim Breuer and Romain Bischoff whom he assisted at the Dutch Vocal Laboratorium. From that time onwards, Blaha now works fulltime as a freelance composer, director, arranger and pianist.

Compositional Style

Blaha writes music ranging from masses, cantatas and piano sonatas to popular songs and symphonies. His current oeuvre contains over 70 pieces. Blaha writes in a modern, inventive style with elements based on Baroque, Romantic and Classical, but also Gregorian and futuristic music. He does not use accidentals; his music falls in between tonal, modal, and atonal. Within his pieces, Blaha pursues an open, intelligible structure, by including a limited amount of musical data. He commonly applies a modern variant of the sonata form, with for example two atonal themes.

Career

Blaha received commissions i.a. from the Dutch Promenade Orchestra, Limburg Symphony Orchestra, Xenakis Ensemble, Pianoduo Post-Mulder, New Amsterdam, and Belcanto Strings (Daniel Raiskin). He composed over 80 works (including 3 symphonies, operas, chamber music and choral works). Momentarily he is working on his 4th Symphony ‘The Great War 1914-1918’ and on a song cycle with Peter Slager from the famous Dutch band BlØf. He is also an all round arranger who made arrangements for i.a. Rik Mol, Stephan Geusebroek and Glennis Grace. Blaha also writes music for (choir) festivals and federations from Brabant and Belgium. Works by him were performed during the Choir Manifesto of the Southern Netherlands, The Festival of Flanders, and The Brabants Componist Festival.

In 2008, the composer was commissioned to write an overture preceding a concert program with works by Franz Schubert and Jacob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy by the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. The commissioner Ed Spanjaard was the conductor of the orchestra with whom Blaha had been taking lessons with priorly. The piece ended up as a symphonic poem called 'Vergänglichkeit', inspired by a text by Herman Hesse, which shared the same name. It consists of a modest and a more turbulent part which are both repeated and eventually come together. The music contains various references to Schubert such as the orchestration in the beginning, which refers to his eighth symphony ('Die Unvollendete').

Christian Blaha is founder and chief conductor of the professional chamber orchestra Zeeuws Chamber Orchestra TY and the semi-professional chamber choir Melopoëia. Furthermore he is conductor of Middelburg's Chamber Choir and accompanying pianist of Choir Light Music A58 with whom he won the national choir festival competition in the category ‘big choir light music’ 2008 and 2010.

In 2011, Blaha’s 'Intermezzo für Klaviertrio' won the second price of the Music Prize of Gemeente Hilvarenbeek. Blaha is also closely connected to the University College Roosevelt (international honors college of Utrecht University), where he regularly teaches music theory classes. In addition, his 'Concerto Antico' was performed by the Zeeuws Youth Orchestra and former UCR piano student Marten Noorduin in 2008. Blaha is regularly asked to give courses in conducting, composition and music theory.

Career in Zeeland

Within the borders of Zeeland, Blaha is regularly commissioned by the Zeeland Orchestra, the Zeeuws Youth Orchestra, Zeeuws Chamber Orchestra TY, New Music Festival Middelburg and the Zeeland Summer Festival. Among the performers of his works were Hieronymus Trio, the piano duo Post/Mulder, the Dutch Promenade Orchestra, pianists Jan Willem Rozenboom and Marcel Worms, organist-pianist Rien Balkenende, the Middelburg Chamber Choir and Zebrass.

Blaha composes for jubilees and commemorations. For instance, in 2010 he wrote half an hour of music based on texts retrieved from the Zeeland Archive based on the theme on the occasion of the bombardment of Middelburg. When the Zeeland Library celebrated its 150th anniversary he wrote, 'Bibliotheca Zelandica', a piece for choir and piano on a text by Sip Beth. The musical theme was based on 'Laag water aan de Schelde' by Gerard Von Brucken Fock.

Other works by Blaha include the symphonic poems Michaël en de Draak en Antarctica, the latter composed for the Daniël Raiskin trio in combination with the ZEEUWS JEUGDORKEST. In 2010, Blaha composed a song cycle for the theater performance Hotel Lijkzicht. Een Koud Bad, another, classical song cycle, was written from the perspective of Zeeland inhabitants which drowned during the flood of 1953.

As a conductor, Blaha has been active in the Zeeuws Men's Choir and the Kuiperspoort Orchestra. He also regularly shows up as a guest conductor during performances of his own works. Together with Dr. Tassilo Erhardt, he founded a choir to perform his and other works. The two also worked together on an exhibition of the New Music Festival Middelburg in the Zeeland Library.

Publications

Only a few of his compositions, e.g. 'Bibliotheca Zelandica' and 'De Vier Vrijheden' have been published (see list). Some other works were published under direct management.

Compositions (not updated since 2010)

Published (Middelburg, s.l.)

  • Klaviertrio nr. 1 (1997)
  • Klaviersonate nr. 1 (1997)
  • Zzaj (1999)
  • Bibliotheca Zelandica (2009)


Overview of Works

Drama

  • Nebbens: Muziektheater (soli SATB, koor SATB, kamerorkest pk 1 slgw. hrp str.)
  • Hotel Lijkzigt (koor SATB, ensemble 2 vl. vla vlc. cb. basgit. dr. pn.)


Orchestral

  • Ritterspiele (symfonieorkest) (2001)
  • Noach (kamerorkest) (2003)
  • Michael en de Draak (symfonieorkest) (2004/05)
  • Antarctica (kamerorkest en strijktrio) (2006)
  • Concerto Antico (symfonieorkest) (2008)
  • Vergänglichkeit (symfonieorkest) (2008)
  • Symfonie Nr. 1 ‘Jahreszeiten’ (symfonieorkest) (2009)
  • Symfonie Nr. II (symfonieorkest) (2010)


Ensemble

  • Klaviertrio nr. 1 (1996/97)
  • Intermezzo für Klaviertrio (1998)
  • Nonet – fl. (1999)
  • Kammerkonzert (hrp pn. en strijkorkest) (1999)
  • Serenade voor 13 instrumenten (2hb. 2 cl. 2bassethrn 4 hn 2 fg. cb.) (2000)
  • Piano-trio nr. 2 (2001)
  • Nazomerfestival overtüre (carillon 2 trmp. 3 trmb. slgw.) (2002)
  • Toccata (piano vierhandig) (2002)
  • Canon à 4 voci (bezetting variabel) (2003)
  • Rondo à 4 voci (bezetting variabel) (2003)
  • Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme (vl. org.) (2004)
  • Toccata (vl. org.) (1996/2004)
  • Concerto voor pianotrio en strijkorkest (2005)
  • Sonate voor viool en piano (2006)
  • Nubes Concerto (fl. ob. cl. vl. vlc. pn.) (2007)
  • 5 Rozenkranzsonaten der Lichtreichen Geheimnisse (vl. en toetsinstr.) (2008)
  • Doppelkonzert (2 vl. en strijkorkest) (2008)
  • Serenade voor strijkers (strijkorkest) (2011)


Solo

  • Sonata per violino solo (2009)


Keyboard Instruments

  • Klaviersonate nr. 1 (1996/97)
  • Klaviersonate nr. 2 (1997)
  • Zzaj – piano (1999)
  • Präludium Factus est repente (org.) (2002)
  • Fuga à 5 voci ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ (org.) (2008)


Choir with Accompaniment

  • Lied over het gedoopte bestaan (2002)
  • Psalmus CL (2002)
  • Psalmus CL (2) (2002/04)
  • Bevrijding (2003/04)
  • Missa St. Antonius en St. Sebastian (2006)
  • Missa Adventus et quadragesimae (2006)
  • Missa (2006/07/09)
  • Zingen zonder grenzen (2006)
  • Missa Nicolai à due voci aequalis cum organo (2008)
  • Het Eeuwige Licht (2008)
  • Bibliotheca Zelandica (2009)


Choir à capella

  • Creator alme siderum (2000)
  • Magnificat (2001)
  • Ein kleiner Jaherszyklus (2001)
  • De Vier Vrijheden (2001)
  • Pater Noster (2002)
  • Ave Verum (2002)
  • Veni Creator (2002)
  • 7 meditaties op de kruisweg (2002/03)
  • Een aantal canons op teksten van Peter v.d. Ouden (2003)
  • 7 Maria canons (2004)
  • Muziek vanuit de kelen (2004)
  • Missa à 5 voci (2005)
  • Preces en Responses (2006)
  • 3 motetten (2009)
  • Litaniae B.M.V. (2010)


Vocal Ensemble

  • Stefanus (SSATBarB) (1999)
  • Ein kleiner Jaherszyklus (soli of koor SABar) (2009)
  • Rimpels (SSAA) (2006)


Solo

  • Ave Maria (sopr. org.) (2000)
  • Een Koud Bad: ‘24 Liederen onder water’ (sopr. bar. en strijkkwartet) (2008/09)
  • 3 liederen (stem vl. vla. vlc. pn.) (2009)
  • 2 liederen (stem, vl. vla. vlc. pn.) (2010)
  • Controleer uw maatregelen (sopr. bar. pn. en strijkorkest) (2010)
  • vogeltje op groene tak (stem) (2010)


Instrumental Arrangements

  • Konzert d-Moll Bwv 1042 (Bach) (f. cl. acc. pn. en strijkkwintet (2009)


Vocal Arrangements with Accompaniment

  • Wonderful Life (Vearncombe) (2006)
  • Blind for You (Di-Rect/Soerjadi) (2006)
  • De troubadour (Kuhr/Hartsema) (2007)
  • Why do fools fall in love (Lymon & Teenagers) (2007)
  • Zeeuws Volkslied (Hol) (2007)
  • Wilhelmus van Nassaue (anoniem) (2008)
  • Oeverturen (Coelers) (2008)
  • Spring dan (Coelers) (2008)
  • Wij doen niets (Coelers) (2008)
  • Draaiorgelliefdeslies (Coelers) (2008)
  • Nachttrein (Coelers) (2009)
  • Wachtsprookje (Coelers) (2009)
  • Can’t hurry love (Supremes) (2009)
  • My Guy (Wells) (2009)
  • 11 Italiaanse liederen (Scarlatti, Giordani, Tosti e.a.) (2009)
  • 4 Chansons (Montand, Brel) (2010)
  • Fietsmedley (Clouseau – Fiets, Boudewijn de Groot – De eenzame fietser e.a.) (2010)


Arrangements à capella

  • Geef mij je angst (Hazes) (2007)
  • Lullabye (Joel) (2007)
  • Nothing else matters (Metallica) (2007)
  • White Christmas (Berlin) (2007)
  • Kijk omhoog (Nick & Simon) (2010)
  • Creep (Radiohead) (2011)

Audio Fragment

christianblaha.nl

Author

-Dok Kunneman (UCR), 2012

Editor

-Jordan Scott (UCR), 2017


Sources

-‘Biografie.’ Christian Blaha. 2010: christianblaha.nl , 18 feb. 2012.

-Blaha, Christian. ‘Lijst van werken van Christian Blaha.’ februari 2012.

-‘Een eervolle opdracht uit Limburg’, in: krantenbankzeeland.nl, PZC, 16 januari 2009

-Eisenga, Douwe, ‘Het opwarmende muziekklimaat’, in: Zeeuws Tijdschrift 55/1-2 (2005) 9-11.

-‘Programmatoelichting Jubileumconcert 2004.’ Middelburgs Kamerkoor., 17 maart 2012.

-Met dank aan Christian Blaha voor het interview op 15 februari 2012.