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Interview with Composer Daniel Schnyder

Tuesday, 2 November 2010 , ora 9.44

Daniel Schnyder was composer in residence at The Moritzburg Festival 2010. Born in Switzerland but living in New York, Daniel Schnyder distinguishes himself through a style which combines the patterns of classical music and the sonorities of jazz music. Daniel Schnyder believes in the ideal of a composer who is also a performer: he presented his works himself, as a saxophone soloist.

I am not an ideologist; I am not saying I compose good music or that the music I make is better than that of other composers. But I can't help noticing the current situation. In the sixties and the seventies, passing judgement was common. Classical music today faces the same problem: some have tried to turn it into some sort of dogma or religion. You see, all great composers - Beethoven, Mozart, all of them - break the rules and that is what makes them great: they innovate; they introduce new rules for the creation of music. Through my music, I combine elements from the 20th-century style of the Americas and Europe - I am referring to form, to development, because the form of the works draws from classical music, not jazz. However, the rhythm derives from non-European music, what I interpret comes from swing jazz style, sometimes even the musical phrasing has the same source, but all these are part of our common culture. Today's performers hear a rhythm on the radio and, with all their training in classical music, they can't render it.

You were born in Switzerland, but have been living in the United States for a long time. How has this influenced you?

I live in New York and the advantage it brings to me is that there you can find thousands of musicians coming from all over the world, even from Romania. It's incredible, wherever you may look, you see Indian, Arab or African musicians, and I have worked on projects with all these different groups.

What Romanian musicians do you know?

Alexandru Gavrilovici - concertmaster with the Berne Orchestra; we have performed together several times. It's difficult to say, many names spring to mind, but, doubtless to say, you definitely have some fabulous musicians here in Romania.

Cristina Comandașu
Translated by Ruxandra Câmpeanu and Elena Daniela Radu
MA students, MTTLC, Bucharest University