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Wolfgang Heinz Otto Bottenberg: Biography

Wolfgang Heinz Otto Bottenberg
1930 - 2018
Region: Québec

Wolfgang Heinz Otto Bottenberg

Wolfgang Bottenberg was born in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, in 1930. Only after immigrating to Canada, in 1958, did he start formal musical studies. He received a B.Mus degree from the University of Alberta in 1961. Further studies in composition took him to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he studied with Scott Huston and Paul Cooper, receiving a Masters degree in 1962 and a Doctorate in 1970.

In 1965, he joined the Faculty of Music of Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. Since 1973, he has been teaching at Concordia University in Montreal, helping in the formation of its emerging music program. In 1993 he was promoted to the rank of full professor; in 1997 he retired from teaching as Professor emeritus.

As a composer, he wrote approximately ninety works in practically all genres, including opera and large scale works for choir and orchestra, but also small pieces for solo instruments and chamber music. For him, all music originates with the experience of singing, As a consequence, he has particular affinity to Gregorian Chant, and to Renaissance and Baroque counterpoint. Of contemporary tendencies, he leans towards those which maintain continuity with the achievements of the past. His earlier compositions showed distinct stylistic influences, such as serialism and aleatoric techniques. In his more recent works, a personal idiom has emerged which is essentially tonal and strives towards formal coherence and expressive nuances.

Bottenberg has also been active in writing music for children and for church congregations. He is particularly interested in writing music accessible to serious amateurs and to musicians in their formative stages. Some of his compositions have incorporated specific medieval melodies. Among these are Cuncitpotens genitor Deus for choir and orchestra, the Sonata Ave maris stella for organ, and Illuminations for violoncello and piano.

Beyond musical composition, Bottenberg is actively engaged in pedagogical research, and in issues connecting philosophy and music. In 1983, he concluded a research project concerning the pedagogical value of reading medieval and renaissance music in the original mensural notation. In 1993, he published the first scholarly and complete performances of the compositions of Friedrich Nietzsche in a two-CD release. He has also been active as a builder of historical stringed instruments, publishing Building a Treble Viola da Gamba in 1980.

CAPAC, Canadian League of Composers


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