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Martin Friedel : Represented Artist

Random Audio Sample: The school of natural philosophy : twelve pieces for solo piano by Martin Friedel, from the CD School of natural philosophy

Martin Friedel was born in Germany. His family migrated to Australia, and settled in a small sawmill community on the Great Dividing Range in Victoria. Awarded the Daffyd Lewis Scholarship to study science at Melbourne University, he gained an honours degree in Physics and Mathematics and a PhD in Chemistry, concurrently studying piano with Victor Stephenson and, later, conducting with Robert Rosen.

He subsequently turned to music, and has supported an independent existence through composition, his works traversing a wide range of form and genre.

Between 1976 and 1988 Friedel composed and directed music for many theatre productions for major Australian companies, including the legendary Australian Performing Group (Pram Factory), MTC, Playbox (now Malthouse), collaborating with notable Australian writers such as Jack Hibberd and Frank Hardy.

In 1981, a Fellowship from the Australia Council supported his 6-month residency at the fabled Brecht Berliner Ensemble in East Berlin.

Between 1989 and 2006 he created scores for more than 50 films, with commissions from the ABC, BBC, and the Paris-based production company Les Films D'Ici, and worked with producers such as Sir David Attenborough. He created scores for more than 20 natural history features, his work recognised by an Emmy (1998), Best Score at the New York and Chicago Film Festivals and two AFI nominations.

Martin Friedel has composed six operas including South of North (performed at the International Music Theatre Workshop in Munich in 1986), FOXY (winner of the Australian One Act Opera Competition, 1990), Seduction of a General (premiered at the 1992 Adelaide Festival) and Sweet and Bitter Conversations (Edinburgh Festival 1987).

Many of his compositions have been commissioned and premiered by the Melbourne based ASTRA. His four large-scale cantatas, based on themes from science - Conversations before the Silence (1990), The Third Planet (1995), Cities of the Mind (2003 - winner of the innaugural Potter Commission Prize), and Electric Songs (2005) - have all been premiered by ASTRA. Recent chamber music includes Airsongs for violin and piano, Invisible Landscapes for piano and instrumental sextet, and a collaborative work with the noted spoken word poet TT.O., based on his 24 Hours.

During his research into Melbourne low-life during his residency as Creative Fellow at the State Library of Victoria (2005) he created the cantata Underworld Songs premiered by ASTRA at the Abbotsford Convent in 2013. His collection of piano pieces, The School of Natural Philosophy, was recorded by Michael Kieran Harvey and released on the MOVE label. His longtime involvement in beekeeping resulted in the 'interspecies collaboration' Dance of the Bee, commissioned and performed by ASTRA as part of the 2015 season of new and innovative work presented by the Arts House in Melbourne. It featured a swarm of bees in a transparent enclosure whose live images were projected during performance, their amplified songs mixing with the sound of the ASTRA choir and three grand pianos.

In 2004, in collaboration with the noted cinematographer Simon Carroll, he created soundscapes for History of a Day, a large-scale multi-screen audiovisual installation, commissioned by Film Victoria and premiered at ACMI, subsequently exhibited at the Samstag Museum of Modern Art in Adelaide in 2007. Current projects (2017) include Arboreana (the forest) and Change the World, settings of Brecht texts for the ASTRA concert marking the centenary of the Russian revolution.

Martin Friedel — current to September 2017

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Airsongs : for violin and piano (2009) Commissioned by Miwako Abe.
Digital sheet music sample Electric songs : cantata for soloists, choir, theremin, bells and instrumental ensemble (2006) Commissioned by Astra Chamber Music Society.
Cities of the mind : Cantata for soloists, choir, string quartet, double bass, percussion and keyboards (2002) The composition and first performance were supported by the Ian Potter Music Commissions.
Five songs from the astronauts : for soprano, baritone and instrumental ensemble (1995) Commissioned by the Astra Chamber Music Society as part of the cantata, 'The Third Planet'.
The third planet : Cantata for solo voices, speaker, SATB choir and instrumental ensemble (1995) The composer was supported by the award of the Jacobena Angliss Fellowship
Seduction of a general : opera (1991) Seduction of a General was commissioned with funds from the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council. The first performance was made possible by funds from the Performing Arts Board and the Victorian Ministry of the Arts.