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Koering, René

Born in 1940 in Andlau, Alsace, René Koering started his music studies with the piano and oboe at the Strasburg Regional Conservatory. He acquired early on such striking musical maturity that his first work – commissioned by the Donaueschinger Musiktage – was forthwith premiered by the Südwestfunk Orchestra of Baden-Baden conducted by Hans Rosbaud. Completing his musical apprenticeship in Darmstadt in the 1960s (for him, the most crucial of his teachers was Bruno Maderna), he was there able to cultivate a knowledge and experience of music that was open to all the music of his time. After a fervent serial period, René Koering turned towards an expressionist style from which a certain spectacular element was never absent. For example, in instrumental music he developed overt virtuosity, apt at literally putting its performers centre stage, and, in vocal or stage music, he was at home in an epic, at times dream-like vein. Particularly attracted by twentieth-century post-romantics (Mahler and Scriabin) and by Schönberg and Berg, he thus lies in a post-serial tendency that he makes a point of incorporating into the pursuit of new acquisitions rather than the elimination of this heritage. And though René Koering has a taste for epic music, as his opera Radetsky Marche shows, one should not forget other indisputably successful works such as the string quartets and his Piano Sonata. René Koering has never shied away from a responsibility for transmitting the musical message. Among his various institutional positions mention should be made of: director of France Musique from 1981 to 1984; director of the Festival of Radio France and Montpellier (it was in 1984 that he founded this highly original musical crossroads); superintendent for music in Montpellier (this task included the supervision of Montpellier Opera and of the Orchestre National de Montpellier); and director of music for Radio France between 2000 and 2005. In all these positions, two æsthetic axes guided him: the discovery of new performers in repertory works, and, especially, the revelation of unknown works (forgotten scores or first performances) by celebrated performers. In all his activities, linked as they are to composition and diffusion, René Koering has a decidedly singular voice in French musical life.

Frank Langlois