Peter Michael Hamel

Peter Michael Hamel (born in Munich, 15 July 1947) is a German composer. His works have been associated with the minimal style of composition, and in the late 1970s with the New Simplicity.

Peter Michael Hamel ranks as one of the best known and most successful German composers of his generation. He studied musical composition, psychology and sociology in Munich and Berlin with Günter Bialas, Büchtger, Carl Dahlhaus and Georgiades as teachers, attended workshops with Karlheinz Stockhausen and continued his education abroad, spending several extensive periods in Asia. Hamel has entered into an intensive engagement with musical cultures from outside Europe, especially Indian classical music. He has drawn inspiration from Asian philosophies and from encounter with the works of Jean Gebser and C.G.Jung to present music that seeks to make itself accessible to the listener through meditative experience and self-exploration. Also he worked and studied with American composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman and Terry Riley.

In 1970, he founded "Between", an international group of improvisational music with whom he made several records, published by intuition/wergo and in 1978 he initiated the Freies Musikzentrum in Munich, an institute for musical education and therapy. In 1976, his book "Through Music to the Self" was published, obtaining wide circulation in Europe and the U.S.

Since 1997, he is the successor of György Ligeti as professor for composition at the music academy of Hamburg. His orchestra and chamber music is published by Schott, Bärenreiter and E.R.P./Celestial Harmonies. He composed four operas, many pieces for orchestra as "Gestalt", violin and piano concertos, spiritual compositions as "Missa" for soprano, choirs and orchestra, "Shoah" (radio-composition about the Holocaust), a lot of chamber music like four string quartets and he is constantly working as a selfperforming artist (piano, prepared piano, pipe organ, voice and live-electronics). His first symphony has been premiered by Sergiu Celibidache in 1988, his second symphony had its first performance in Munich on April 29th, 2008 with the Munich Philharmonic. In 2007 Hamel's "Of the Sound of life" for great pianist Roger Woodward has been published by Celestial Harmonies. Woodward will premiere these Piano Etudes on January 19th, 2009 in the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts, Munich.

From "A few thoughts on composer PMH" by Terry Riley: "...Peter's heart did not seem to be aligned alone with the post Webern traditions that had emerged so prevalently in Germany. His sensibilities were attracted more to American minimalism and Indian music and to some degree Rock and Jazz. In this sense he stands apart in the field of modern music of Germany. He has recognized the vast importance of improvisation and being 'in the moment' in music performance. He realizes the importance of experimentation and of finding new ways to notate his ideas. However, his music is at the same time rooted in the great German tradition and today he is recognized as a major figure whose compositions have greatly enriched the development of 20th and 21st century repertoire..." (published in: "Ein neuer Ton" (Alliteraverlag, München, 2007)

He is the author of a book titled "Through Music to the Self" (1976).


*Hamel, Peter Michael (1976). "Through Music to the Self".

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