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Two Liceo composers making waves for Beethoven’s 250th Anniversary Collection

Two Kagay anon composers are rocking the internet via an international collection of compositions honoring the 250th Anniversary of composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Last December 10, Prof. Horst Hans Bäcker and Mr. Niño Cesar Tiro paid a courtesy call on City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno to update him on the project’s latest developments.

“Niño's piece is the most played among all 250 piano pieces since Susanne Kessel premiered it,” Bäcker told Mayor Moreno. “Volume 9 (where our pieces will be published) will be on market by the end of January 2020.”

The pair has been invited to visit Germany next year where Kessel, the pianist from the Beethoven’s birthplace in Bonn who initiated the project, will play their compositions as part of the worldwide celebration of Beethoven’s birthday (nmz, badblog, 2015).

"Beethoven Year 2019/2020 is full of concerts and we are free to choose when we want to be a part of one," Bäcker notes.

However, the duo admits going to Germany is beyond their means without sponsors to cover their expenses, but remain open to corporate and individual sponsors who wish to support their trip.

Bäcker’s Fantasie über Ludwig van Beethoven and Tiro’s Phantasie für Ludwig compositions are among the 250 piano pieces selected to be published and distributed worldwide in Volume 9 of The 250 Piano Pieces for Beethooven Book Series featuring 250 piano pieces by 250 composers from 43 countries all over the world to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday in 2020.

Kessel has worked on a number of remarkable collaborations with various composers. Since 2013, she has been inviting composers of new music, jazz, and film music from around the world to compose piano pieces inspired by Beethoven and his body of work to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the great German’s composer’s birthday in 2020.

Bäcker reached out to Kessel in 2013 when he was still based in Germany and was invited to send in his composition. When he moved to Cagayan de Oro in 2016,  Bäcker  told Tiro about the project upon hearing some of the latter’s compositions. Tiro reached out to Kessel and was likewise invited to send in his composition for the collection.

“Even when I was still in college, I already wanted to write music based on the notes represented by the letters of a person’s name,” Bäcker said. “I discovered that if I use German, Italian and French names of notes, I ended up having 12 letters of the alphabet not represented by notes.  By using the 12 semi tones in an octave, you can put these 12 tones there, then you have every letter with a note!”

“By using the note symbols represented by the letters of his name, now I have a complete Ludwig van Beethoven melody!”

In a social media post on her event page, Kessel said: “Welcome piano piece No. 197: Horst-Hans Bäcker (RO/DE) – Fantasie über Ludwig van Beethoven. A nice piece that is composed out of the note-letters of the name Ludwig van Beethoven.” 

Bäcker is the Associate Dean of Liceo de Cagayan University’s Conservatory of Music, Theatre and Dance as well as its Professor for Composition and Orchestral/Choral Conducting and Conductor of the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra.

Born in Bucharest, Romania but educated in Germany, Bäcker studied Composition under Ludwig Werner Weiand at the Conservatory in Wuppertal and Gyula Horvath at the Mozarteum in Salzburg; conducting under Kurt Prestel and Performance Practice of Early Music with Nikolaus Harnoncourt.  He completed his Masters in Composition under Jürg Baur at the Rhineland Academy of Music in Cologne.

A self-confessed advocate of avant-garde music, Tiro grew up in a musical household and taught piano in the family owned studio. His sister was also a pianist who oriented him in classical music every time she played. In college, he wrote under the pseudonym Ludwig when he wrote some of his avant-garde pieces.

“Beethoven is like No. 1 for me!” said the self-styled anachronistic, eccentric and outright melodic composer from Cagayan de Oro.   

“Phantasie für Ludwig is a Sturm und Drang piece in A minor based on the Beethoven style of Classical Romantic composition. There are a few nods there and there from the meister’s monumental works. The dissonance and melodic and harmonic tension in this piece conveys the ups and downs in a composer’s life and depicts Beethoven succumbing the frailty of the human mind and body. The works ends in A, neither a major nor minor, symbolizing the continuing struggles that everyone, especially Ludwig, faced in life.”

“Welcome piano piece No. 199: Nino Tiro (PH) – Phantasie für Ludwig. A piece of high romantic piano music, film-music style by a composer and music teacher on the Philippines,” said Kessel in the event page of her project. “The piece is about Für Elise. Something that you love to play when you are with friends and someone asks you: Please play something for us. Thank you, Nino!”

Tiro is the only Filipino composer included in the project. He is currently a faculty member of the Liceo de Cagayan University Conservatory of Music, Theatre and Dance and principal double bass player of  the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra.

The premieres of the piano pieces are being held in Beethoven’s birthplace in Bonn, with further premieres scheduled in other cities as well. Radio recordings (WDR) and CD productions will accompany the project. All 250 pieces will be published by 2020 by EDITIONS MUSICA FERRUM and will be available for purchase internationally. 

In a recent post at her event page 250 Piano Piece for Beethoven, Kessel announced, "After 6.5 years of work: Next Sunday, 1st of December 2019, the monumental, historic collection of 250 new piano pieces for Beethoven's 250th birthday will be complete! Two weeks before the official start of the "Beethoven-Year 2019/2020." (with Ena Marie E. Tiro)

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