Notizzettel - © Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
„To compose means to travel. I travel alone. The destination is printed on the ticket. But when I arrive, I already have the next ticket in my hand, to another, different destination. I constantly think about leaving. This should not be mistaken with being unhappy. It is inner curiosity that drives me on to continue with the trip, even though it means, that this may lead me into a labyrinth.“


Snow in May
Foto: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Finally there will be snow in May, including in the chamber music hall of the Berlin Philharmonic. “If you, mother, go into the mountain, it will snow.” So says the son on the way to Narayama, where old people are brought to be abandoned. Here is an excerpt from the email exchange with the choir mistress, Franziska Welti: for months now we have been working on the piece Snow – On the Inadequacy of Dying [Schnee – von der Unzulänglichkeit des Sterbens] by the Japanese composer Mayako Kubo. Now the premiere is imminent, i.e. things will get serious in just a few weeks. For me it is absolutely a premiere in several respects: the Singfrauen Berlin sing – together with the Classical Lesbians – contemporary music! My wonderful colleague Sibylle Fischer and I are both conducting and have parts as solo singers, and it is the first collaboration between the two choirs. Also taking part is the queer choir Canta:Re conducted by Thomas Noll. That means the audience will be sung to by almost 100 singers…!

Sunday, May 26th, 2019, 4pm
Kammermusiksaal Philharmonie Berlin
Tuesday, May 28th, 2019, 8pm
Klosterstr 67. Berlin 10179
Snow – On the Inadequacy of Dying
For female choir, two solo sopranos, violoncello and percussion
Classical Lesbians, Singfrauen Berlin
Lead / Solo Soprano: Franziska Welti, Sibylle Fischer
Violoncello: Ehrengard von Gemmingen
Percussion: Almut Lustig

“Today I am Red” for Saxphonequartet – Review
Foto: Mayako Kubo

“Poly-stylistics of anecdotal character move against and with elements of dance and tones from traditional song materials, sparingly used contemporary musical techniques (e.g. quarter-tone, glissando), and natural bird sounds. Single-movement arch form. Episodes of increasingly rich tempo culminate into rapid, almost stuttering barrel-organ music, which then gives way to play and improvisation on bird whistles. Rudimentary polyphonic, primarily homo-rhythmically organized textures in triple or quadruple meter. Fathomless, partly grotesque but also playful engagements with a dirge from Austria’s Burgenland ("Heute bin ich rot, morgen bin ich tot..." [Today I am red, tomorrow I am dead]) that is ultimately smothered as a “cruel song for crueler times” (Kubo). All that remains are “birds that sing at the cemetery”.”

Michael Zwenzner, May 2019, reproduced with permission from Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, score published at the Verlag Neue Musik



Foto: Andreas Schild

When a young musician performs my composition so perfectly and so fantastically, I feel as though I’ve been checkmated. The accordion student of Gerhard Scherer has managed just that. “il re solo” means “the lonely king” and is part of the suite “Chess” [Schach] for 16 young musicians. The young musicians’ play is becoming more and more technically perfect, and more and more engaged. And the older composers? I wonder.

May 4th, 2019 2pm
Genezarethkirche Berlin Neukölln
part of the festival Neuköllner Originaltöne
„il re solo“ for accordion
Noga Baake accordion

Berlin Diary in the Hands of an Azerbaijani Pianist
Foto: Jeremy Knowies

Berlin is indeed teeming with international artists. A young pianist from Baku, Fidan Aghayeva-Edler, has 10 fingers that can play 10 different dynamics – not an easy task by any means, for any pianist! I wrote “Montaru 3b” in 1989 for an exhibition at the New National Galery during the 100th anniversary of Willi Baumeister. The piece is 30 years old now, and this year we have the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus in Dessau. How history unfolds before our eyes! Fidan Aghayeva-Edler is playing Berlin Diary: 1. A Waltz, 3. Montaru 3b, 7. Berlin Air.

April 16th, 2019, 8:30pm
Unerhörte Musik
Mehringdamm 34, 10961 Berlin
Berlin Diary
Fidan Aghayeva-Edler, Piano -




Melancholia in Times of Cherry Blossoms
Foto: Hartmut S. Bühler

When the time of cherry blossom and cherry blossom festivals (hanami) rolls around, melancholia grips me a little. Unconsciously I compare the time of hanami in Germany and in Japan. There all the roads are lined with blossoming cherry trees – but in my chosen home Berlin I remain a little “darkened”.

April 9th, 2019, 8:30pm
Unerhörte Musik
Mehringdamm 34, 10961 Berlin
Irene Kurka, Soprano
…verfinstert… […darkened…] (2015) Text by Ingeborg Bachmann


Finally in Brno
Hana Hrachovinová

Finally I get to travel to the city of Janáček, Brno!! Ever since I was a student I always wanted to visit Brno. Now I am having a concert at the Janáček Conservatory in front of the music students there. “Izanagi or Orpheus” will be played by a Czech harpist. I will be accompanying her playing stones. In my opinion, stones and harps are among the most primal sounds in all of music – and, therefore, must be part of Izanagi’s music as well.

March 21st, 2019, 7 pm
Brno Conservatory
„Izanagi or Orpheus“
Hana Hrachovinová: Harp
Mayako Kubo: Stones



Today I am Red on the Radio

During the show, the host mentioned a quote by Toru Takemitsu: The notes of Japanese instruments are boundlessly free in the moment of their sounding. I do not agree with that sentiment. Thoughts about the ideal sound of Japanese instruments come primarily from Zen. The idea is that sounds created by humans should approximate the sounds of nature as best they can. Unfortunately, I would need another 100 years to understand such a metaphysical ideal – or maybe even more. The stance of my Japanese colleagues is for me at once fascinating and exotic. Their cryptic commentaries on their own works are often more interesting than the sounds of the works themselves.

Here is a sample of “Today I am Red” (Heute bin ich Rot) from the show “Musik-Panorama”, broadcast February 11th, 2019 on Deutschland Funk radio. Performed by the Xenon Quartet.

Heute bin ich rot (Deutschlandfunk "Musik Panorama", 11.02.2019)

New Music in Church
Foto: Bernd Hohnstock

Buddhist temples and Christian churches are often venues for interesting art events. Composers of contemporary music increasingly benefit from these opportunities. St. Peter is the art station, a place of a unique dialogue between faith and liturgy and contemporary art and new music. This late-Gothic church space, remodeled again and again over the centuries, is now largely free of both artworks and pews – an empty space of spirituality. Contemporary artists utilize this emptiness to design their new ideas, again and again. Theirs works, given over to the congregation for a time, confront us with existential questions, and inspire the life of the faithful during service. (From the church’s information page)

March 9th, 2019, 1:00pm
Sankt Peter Köln, Jabachstraße 1, 50676
Köln, lunch concert; Irene Kurka, soprano
…darkened… (2015) text by Ingeborg Bachmann

What Remains in the End?

Izanagi and Izanami have been a long-standing part of my compositional work. The piece “Only my Voice Remains” (Nur meine Stimme bleibt) is a study about the opera “Izanagi”. Koto and recorder depict Izanami’s silence through simplistic means. Izanami must endure the unfulfilled reunion and the breach of trust by Izanagi, the Japanese Orpheus. When her body no longer exists, all that remains is her voice in the air.

Sunday, March 10th, 2019, 5:00pm
Festsaal Rathaus Charlottenburg
Otto-Suhr-Allee 100, 10585 Berlin
“Only my Voice Remains”
Gaby Bultmann, recorder
Makiko Goto, koto

Xenon Saxophone Quartet
Foto: Ira Weinrauch

Cologne remains the high seat of contemporary music after all. If Stockhausen would be still alive, he would be so proud. The composers, musicians, and the music school there are of exceptional quality and produce interesting works. The Berlin folks should take a note from their book. David Smeyers conducts a concert “Step by Step, New Music by Japanese Composers” [Schritt für Schritt, Neue Musik japanischer Komponisten] where the Xenon Saxophone Quartet performs my piece “Today I am red”.

Jan. 25th, 2019, 7 pm,
Japanese Cultural Institute Cologne
Universitätsstr. 98, 50674 Köln
„Today I am red“
Xenon Saxophone Quartet

The new Singing Bowl in Bielefeld
Foto: Christian Weische

The singer Irene Kurka wrote: Has anyone had that happen to them? I owned a singing bowl that I had for about a year. When I recently unpacked it ahead of a concert (Dec. 12th, 2018 at the Lukas Kirche in Berlin) and struck it, it sounded like a broken bucket. Nothing was visible from the outside, but I suspect there was a crack inside it. Now I have a new one, but unfortunately, I could not find one with the same tone. At least I can now sing a composition with singing bowl by Mayako Kubo on Friday in Bielefeld."

Jan. 11th, 2019, 7 pm
Zionskirche, Bielefeld
Contemporary Music in Church
“darkened”. Irene Kurka: Soprano

The Singing Bowl with a Cold
Foto: Mayako Kubo

The singing bowl has a cold. Extreme temperatures have probably damaged it somehow. It sounded like a duck without a quack. Nevertheless, the singer managed to perform my music exceptionally well, and the vespers was of great quality. It was a truly ecumenical service: Protestant and Catholic preachers, with Buddhist sounds.

Dec. 12th, 2018, 6 pm
Lukas Kirche
Ecumenical Vespers, “darkened”.
Irene Kurka: Soprano





Izanagi dances in Prague
Foto: Gisela Weimann

Izanagi is my life’s work. Old Japanese mythology combined with contemporary themes such as gender, power, or climate make it infinitely fascinating to me. A Czech harpist and myself playing stones will be accompanying our Czech dancer. Gisela Weimann built us an impressive stage.

November 27th, 08:00 pm
Izanagi or Orpheus for Dance, Harp, and Stones in Prague

Villa P651, Pevnostni 651/8, Prague,
Gisela Weimann: Stage

Can you learn composition?
Foto: Mayako Kubo

Once a month there is a large round table of the composition department at the traditional Prague conservatory. There experienced professors meet with seasoned and young composition students. I gave a talk about the meaning of composition, and about the task of the composer. I also encouraged two female composers among the 25 composition students in attendance to keep fighting and developing themselves. One of the professors asked me why I was not teaching. I told him you can’t learn composition, and you can’t teach it – to which he simply replied: “then I am unemployed”. It was a nice/serious discussion.

Nov. 29th, 2018, 5 pm,
Prague Conservatory
Talk with Czech composers and composition students




Mazel Tov International
Design: Carola Ludwig

There are a few numbers that immediately give us goosebumps: 1918, 1938, 1989, 2018. What numbers!! Our concerts during the “Mazel Tov International” will not only showcase musical developments in Europe and their influence in the East, but also present some politically and socially relevant compositions. The concert includes two contemporary composers living in Berlin, and four Jewish composers from very different walks of life.

November 23rd 2018, 07.30 pm,
Schwartzsche Villa Berlin Steglitz,

Grunewaldstraße 55, 12165 Berlin
The Gutmann-Maile Ensemble Berlin, Hans Maile, volin / Yossi Gutmann, viola / Benjamin Walbrodt, violoncello / Yuko Tomeda, piano
Works: Menachem Wiesenberg / Jeffrey Ching / Dinu Lipatti / Charlotte Seither / Ernst Toch / Alfred Schnittke



Finally: “Susanne”
Foto: Mayako Kubu

There will finally be a premiere of my composition “Susanne” for three violas, which I had written for a deceased friend. The young violinists of the Hanns Eisler music school will find themselves confronted with techniques of New Music.

November 15th, 2018, 07:00 pm
Susanne“ School for Music "Hanns Eisler"

Berlin, Schlossplatz 7, GKS 1
Simone Jandl and her students play works for 1-4 violas by Frank Bridge, Jean-Marie Leclair, York Bowen, Max Weinzierl, Garth Knox, Béla Bartók, and Mayako Kubo





Shipwrecked in St. Petersburg

My great guitar solo “Shipwrecked” was written in remembrance of the tsunami of Fukushima. Now Gaku Yamada performs the piece in front of a Russian audience.

Did the audience hear the waves of the tsunami in my music, I wonder?

October 29th 2018
St. Petersburg. Shipwrecked, Gaku Yamada: Guitar








Sapporo Otani University

Otani University has its beginning in 1665, when it was established as a buddhist seminar by the Higashi Honganji. Subsequently, it was reorganized as a modern university in 1901. 

Sapporo Otani Universitiy is a college of art. I feel honored, because I give a lecture at such a deep traditional University. I will be talking about the challenge of composers in the society and about the role of music creation in the schools of Berlin.

2018 Oct. 26. 6.30 p.m.
Sapporo Otani University

“darkened” at St. Matthews Church
Foto: Andreas Schild

St. Matthews Church stands in the middle of the Kulturforum, surrounded by important buildings: the New National Gallery, the Philharmonic, the New State Library, the Gemäldegalerie. The church is known for its love of contemporary art and music. Irene Kurka will accompany the service.

October 21st, 6.00 p.m., Service
Sermon: Rev. Christhard-Georg Neubert, Art Commissioner of the EKBO
Liturgy: Rev. Katrin Rebiger, Heilige-Geist-Gemeinde Berlin
New Music for solo voice; works by Mayako Kuno, Wistinghausen, Cage, and Corbett: Irene Kurka, soprano.

Journey to Hokkaido

It's not going to happen to me, is something you have to keep telling yourself when living in Japan. But it does happen. Again and again. And then the people – and especially the officials – always say: it was something unforeseeable. The tsunamis are always higher than you think, the earthquakes always stronger. In Sapporo, I will be talking before scientists and culture creators about my work as a composer, and my life in Berlin. And I am also going to ask them, how everyday and cultural life have changed after the quake.

October 28th, 4:00pm Lecture at the Sapporo Art Center „hue pocket“
as part of the Fall Symposium of Cultural Studies in Hokkaido

Autumn in Japan

The term “home” is very vague and emotional. Japan is my homeland, but Neukölln in Berlin is my home. At Waseda University in Tokyo I will be talking about the task of the composer. Is it enough to simply compose your own music? Is it enough to fight for an aesthetic world?

October 24th, 4:30pm - 6pm Lecture at Waseda University
Lecture at Waseda University

Department: School of International Liberal Studies
Bild. 11 Room 501
Tokyo 169-8050, Japan

The Cologne Guitar Qartet speeds through China
Cologne Guitar Quartet

The industrious Chinese people might not have time to come to the first China performance of “Breathing Space” [“Atem Pause”]. Times have changed: who still listens to modern guitar music, where the guitar is beaten and scratched?

The Cologne Guitar Quartet bravely tours through China with their multifaceted program.

Oct. 18th, 2018 7:00pm Mong Man Wai Hall, Tsinghua University, Beijing
Oct. 19th, 2018 7:00pm Tianjin Grand Theater-Concert, Tianjin
Oct. 21st, 2018 7:00pm Xián Concert Hall, Xian
Oct. 23rd, 2018 7:00pm Chongqing Guotai Concert Hall, Chongqing

Singing Bowl
Foto: stux |

The singing bowl is a mystical instrument. It connects the worlds of East and West, and the times of Past and Present. In “darkened”, Irene Kurka sings with just a single singing bowl, but she manages to bring together many times and places.

September 12th, 2018 7pm
„darkened” [„verfinstert“]“ Irene Kurka
St. Helena in Bonn


My Traces: Tracking a Composer

It is a documentary overview of scenic music up to 2007. Contents: A portrait of Mayako Kubo. Production: 2007 Shio Nagai/Mayako Kubo

String trio “Turning points” (2007) / Musical theater “Montaru 3B” (1989) / Opera “Rashomon” (Graz)(1996) / Opera “Rashomon” (Tokyo)(2002) / Memoria perpetua Double bass solo (2002) / Musical theater “Hyperion-Fragmente” (2002) / Scenic Music “Margareten weiss in Flaschenbegleitung” (2004) / Opera “Osan” (Tokyo)(2005)
Run time: 20 Minutes

Narayama Suite I - IV

The ancient Japanese legend “Narayama Bushi Koh” is an important story about getting old, and has always fascinated me.
My Narayama Suite for piano is my first attempt to climb that “Mount Narayama”.

Hans Maile violin, Benjamin Walbrodt violoncello, Yuko Tomeda piano

An Diotima

The viola solo “For Diotima” comes from the musical theater “Hyperion Fragments”. The viola symbolizes Diotima's steadfast character, but also her exceptionally pure love. Thank you, Yossi Gutmann! He improved many unplayable parts.

When will the opera Ovartaci have its premiere?
Foto: Christian von Steffelin

The Berliner Atonale has 12 composers as its members; and each of them was assigned one scene of the new opera Ovartaci – crazy, queer & lovable. You compose your scene all by yourself – without any knowledge of how the other scenes are going to turn out. The only guideline you have is the libretto, but there is no overarching motif, melody, or harmony. Each of the 12 composers has to imagine on their own who Ovartaci was. AND IT WORKS! The idea of the libretto writer Tanja Langer unfolded beautifully. The opera is literally as crazy, queer, and lovable as the title suggests. Now it will be performed for the first time in concert form – a complete premiere with a stage production will follow soon!

June 15th, 2018, 8.00 pm
Staatsoper unter den Linden Berlin, Neue Werkstatt
as part of the concert Berliner Atonale.
From the opera Ovartaci: PUMA, BLUME, SCHMETTERLING (2016)
Ramina Abdulla-Zade, Soprano
Claudia Herr, Mezzo-soprano
Thorbjörn Björnsson, Baritone
Sabrina Ma, Percussion

Today am I red
Foto: Michael Jungblut

In music, even the most terrible things are sung so beautifully, you would never think to plug your ears. The dirge “Today am I red” (“Heute bin ich rot”) is a nursery rhyme from the Burgenland region of Austria. The children sing: Today am I red and tomorrow am I dead. I watched a rendition of that song on the television, where a father from Homs was holding his dead child in his arms. The only questions in my mind were: will that child get a proper burial? Are there even coffins in that size? Will someone pray at the grave? But perhaps only the birds will sing.

 Text: Today am I red and tomorrow am I dead, Today lie I still in my father's bed, They carry me out and never more herein, All, my gentlemen, for which I still ask you: For an "Our Father, who art....."

June 14th, 2018, 8.00 pm
Staatsoper unter den Linden Berlin, Neue Werkstatt
as part of the concert Berliner Atonale.
„Heute bin ich rot“ for saxophone quartet and four bird whistles world premiere Saxophon Quartett

5th Mazel Tov International

Collaborating with the viola player Yossi Gutmann isn't easy work – but it is rewarding. And we are meeting ever-increasing approval when it comes to our motto of presenting music that goes beyond borders and generations, but is rarely performed or not performed at all.

The Gutmann-Maile Enemble Berlin has once again selected some sophisticated works: from a string trio by Arnold Schönberg, to Haubenstock-Ramati, to a UA by Yehuda Yannay. Haubenstock-Ramati once told me that during the premiere of the opera “America” at the Deutsche Oper in 1966, there was “a lot of politically motivated audience at the premiere...” For that reason and others, he decided to never again travel to Germany. In that sense, we consider our project as the historical research of New Music: we want to make heard the music that was written because of or despite extraordinary circumstances. Across all generations, and through all cultural backgrounds. And we are always grateful when the audience points toward unknown works.

June 10th, 2018, 7.30 pm
Schwartzsche Villa Steglitz, Grunewaldstr. 55, 12163 Berlin
The Gutmann-Maile Ensemble Berlin:
Hans Maile, violin/ Yossi Gutmann, viola/ Benjamin Walbrodt, violoncello/ Yuko Tomeda, piano
Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, String Trio
Stefan Lienenkämper, 5 Studies for Piano
Arnold Schönberg, String Trio
Josef Tal, Suite for Viola
Mayako Kubo, Narayama Suite for Piano Trio
Yahuda Yannay, New work for String Trio UA

Only my voice remains on youtube

At the end of the premiere of Nur meine Stimme bleibt (“Only my voice remains”) it really was only the voices of the musicians, of koto and recorder, that remained. It was a beautiful but also exciting premiere. Composers have a very close, emotional bond with their works, like mother and child. Here is a YouTube video of the premiere:

Photograph: Ezry Keydar

A new recording of my guitar quartet Atempause (“Breathing Space”) was released on CD (label: Jsm Guitar Records) and titled “Phasma” – which means 'specter' or 'apparition' in Greek, and is not, as I immediately thought, related to Captain Phasma from Star Wars. The innovative and bold Cologne Guitar Quartet has taken my composition and examined it closely, breathing new life into it. Their interpretation of my work is as crystallized as Michael Kaplan's metal costume, but the humoresque tones can be heard everywhere. The CD is available on amazon, but the music can also be found on Spotify Open. Here are the links. 

Voice and Singing Bowl
Foto: Hartmut S. Bühler

After the successful concert in Paris, soprano Irene Kurka repeats her performance of “darkened...”. A new singing bowl accompanies her voice. The singing bowl is a very strange instrument. When it sounds in the sauna, I find it very calming. But in my piece “darkened...”, the singing bowl sounds at times both refreshing and ominous.

May 27th, 2018 – 12.00 am
Galerie KunstRaum Dorissa Lem in Köln-Ehrenfeld
“darkened...”, after the poem Exile by Ingeborg Bachmann
Irene Kurka, soprano


Original Notes for Children

My first music for children was a violin concerto I wrote for my son when he was only 8 years old. After that I wrote some important pieces for children and teenagers, including opera and orchestral pieces. A colleague of mine for many years, Gerhard Scherer-Rügert, kept urging me to write an original piece for his students. That is how I created “Chess”, “5 Japanese Dances”, and “Math Class”.

As part of the Neuköllner Originaltöne
Genezareth Church, Herrfurthplatz 14, Berlin Neukölln

May 5th, 6.00 pm
Math Class, students of the class: Gerhard Scherer-Rügert
Tableaux, Klara Winter, piano

May 6th, 8.15 pm
Duo of Chess for soprano and tenor recorder
Luca Rummel, Gabriel Vogel



How Many Strings on a Koto?
Foto: Lixue Lin

Japan offers many more art forms than just sushi and manga. The stringed instrument “koto”, for example, has already made itself known in the West. Now European composers have begun to write music for koto. I created a new piece for recorder and 13-stringed koto while I was in Paris – where the rain lasted not 13 but a whole 31 days. For my work, this was a blessing in disguise. Now two virtuosos from New Music are premiering my new work.

As part of the Neuköllner Originaltöne
Genezareth Church, Herrfurthplatz 14, Berlin Neukölln
May 6th, 8.30 pm
“Only my voice remains...” world premier
Gaby Bultmann, recorder
Makiko Goto, koto


Visual expressions like light, dark, green, colorless can apply to music as well. Is quietness black? Is a deep voice dark? What are bright notes? Is silence also a darkness? Where language and color are not enough to get through, music can reach you like a vein of water, running deep beneath the earth. The poem “Exil” ('Exile') by Ingeborg Bachmann is not just colorful, but also quite contemporary. Poets have letters, composers have notes, and singers have their voice to express these things.

That is why I decided to use both bright and dark notes when composing “Exile”.

18th March 2018 Open Studio 19 p.m.
1501 at Maler Andrey Chukin,
17. Rue Geoffry l´Asnier 75004 Paris
„Darkened..“ after "Exil" by Ingeborg Bachmann for Sopran
Irene Kurka, Sopran



Encore! PianoDuo
Foto: Uwe Arens

The Japanese-German piano duo Takahashi/Lehmann performs my piano piece “Omoigakezu – Oh You Suddenly!”

March. 13th, 2018, 20.30pm
Unerhoerte Musik Mehringdamm 34 , 10961 Berlin
Piano Duo: Norie Takahashi and Björn Lehmann





Parisian Life in the Rain

When it rains in Berlin, I know exactly where to go for a walk and where the trees show their most beautiful greens. But in Paris, it has now been raining nonstop since January 1st, 2018. The river promenades are flooded. All you can do is stay in your apartment and compose. Luckily I have met some very interesting composers during the “Cité Internationale des Arts”. Under the title “4 composers” we try to elaborate on the innermost workings of our compositions and our creative process. Joachim Schneider primarily writes microinterval music, Antonio Covello composes on the computer, and Marina Schlagintweit is a great improviser with her voice. I, of course, compose on the piano.

January 31st, 2018, 7 pm
Open-Studio 8120 Cité Internationale des Arts,
18. rue de l´hotel de Ville
75004 Paris


The Japanese-German piano duo Takahashi/Lehmann performs my piano piece “Omoigakezu – Oh You Suddenly!”. The piece once again features my favorite theme, the “dance from Awa”. The theme consists of three notes. While writing this piano piece the theme suddenly popped into my head. For weeks I was humming the three notes in the Awa rhythm, and ended up composing a very different piece than I had originally planned. By the way, the Takahashi/Lehmann PianoDuo has actually been to the Awa region in Japan and witnessed the dance there. They really perform with full, dancing passion.

Jan. 28th, 2018, 4 pm
Konzertsaal, Zellestr. 12, 10243 Berlin
Klavierduo: Norie Takahashi and Björn Lehmann

Mazel Tov International

The chamber music series Mazel Tov International is growing, and the audience loves it more and more each year. European musical history during the 20th and 21st centuries strongly reflects events in politics and society. This 4th concert features works that directly or indirectly express such events in the world. My own work, “Exile”, features a Japanese and a Jewish folk song, both juxtaposed and used in parallel. It is not a sign of globalization, though. Think of Puccini's “Madam Butterfly”, which uses Japanese folk songs as well as the American national anthem; music is valid everywhere! Mazel Tov!

Duo Evening December 10th, 2017, 7 pm
Schwarztsche Villa Berlin Steglitz,
Grunewaldst. 55, 12165 Berlin
Yossi Gutmann, viola, Yuko Tomeda, piano
Music for viola and piano by Tzvi Avni, Luca Lombardi, Ödön Partos, Mordecai Seter, Alexadre Tansman, and “Exile” as world premiere



Turning Points in My Life
Foto: Erik Ouwerkerk

My path was never a straight one, not in Japan and not in Europe. Everywhere I encountered labyrinths, and still encounter them today. But there were many friends who helped me during my meanderings. They gave me advice – which I ignored. They offered me shelter – for which I did not give them thanks. They provided me with food and warmth – which I refused out of spite. For music alone I am full of gratidude and awe.

But I keep asking myself: what is going to happen to me? For this program I selected works that influenced me musically, but also some of my own pieces created during important turning points in my life.

Portrait Concert
Unerhörte Musik, Mehringdamm 34, Berlin 10961

Dec. 05th, 2017, 8.30 pm

The Gutmann-Maile Ensemble Berlin
Hans Maile, Violine / Yossi Gutmann, Viola / Benjamin Walbrodt, Cello / Yuko Tomeda, Piano

Mayako Kubo, Turning points (2007) Streichtrio
Luca Lombardi, Drei Stücke aus Addii (1995/1996) Klaviertrio
Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Streichtrio (1948/ Fassung 1978),
Mayako Kubo, An Diotima (2005) Viola solo
Isang Yun, Duo für Viola und Klavier (1974)
Mayako Kubo, Narayama Suite (2017) Klaviertrio UA

There are no “Easy Rules”

For Marina Tsvetaeva there are no easy rules in her love. Yes or No, Love or Death. I like this attitude towards life. How difficult it is, to consequently live up to your own ideals! She had to sacrifice her life to do so, and the life of her son. What a life she lived!

I felt the burning heat inside me while composing to her poem. “The Easy Rule” will now be sung by a young lady.

Nov. 24th, 2017, 3 pm, as part of the “Voice Day”,
Studio Saal at the Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule Berlin,
Charlottenstr. 55
Lia Naviliat Cuncic, soprano
Martin Schneuing, piano

Sagawa Music Prize

For “Sanriku Songs” for string orchestra and soprano, the Kyoto Philharmonic-Chamber Orchestra was awared the Sagawa Music Prize 2017. A great honor for me and great prize for the orchestra.

Ordinarily, contemporary music in Japan is largely passed over by the critics. But this time the verdict was highly positive, as the prize's jury can attest to: “The concert spoke not only to listeners of contemporary music, but to a much broader audience. The conductor, Maestro Ichiro Saito, demanded from each member of the orchestra both autonomy and interplay, in order to bring forth a truly vivid performance. 'Sanriku Songs' by Mayako Kubo, written for the victims of the tsunami, was performed by Eiko Morikawa with a clear and very appropriate singing voice.”

Stumbling Blocks at Every Turn
© John-Noel Attard

German cities frequently feature so-called “stumbling blocks”, tiny memorials let right into the pavement. There are almost 50,000 of them throughout the country – but none of them in Munich. The Israeli Cultural Societies of Munich and Upper Bavaria are opposed to these “stumbling blocks”. Their reasoning: “People step on them, or simply pass them by without noticing”.

I hope they are more amenable to my stumbling blocks of sound. My piece “Stolpersteine” (Stumbling Blocks) consists of 12 little waltzes... but as soon as the waltzes get going, foreign elements enter and disrupt them. It makes you look – or listen – twice. Even the pianist has to do a double take and check his notes again. Just as though he had stumbled over a block on the street.

“Stumbling Blocks” for Piano
November 14th, 2017, 8.30 pm
Unerhörte Musik, Mehringdamm 34, Berlin
as part of the concert with Bärmanntrio
John-Noel Attard, piano


Soprano Quartet “Life of a Woman Artist”
© Gisela Weimann

Life of a heroine or life of a woman artist? The differences aren't as big as you would think. Life as a female artist truly is not easy these days. Many life alone and work freelance; so what is it that drives them towards creating art? They can't stop themselves from painting, making poetry, or writing compositions. Visual artist Gisela Weimann recorded her own difficulties in her journal. That text is now performed by the Girls Choir in Hannover. I find it amazing (and archaic) that they still call these young women singers “girls”.

Soprano Quartet “Life of a Woman Artist”;
From the choir piece “Love, Art, Foreign, Women”
November 9th, 2017, 7.30 pm
Richard Jakoby Saal at HMTMH Hannover, Emmichplatz 1
Soloists from the Girls Choir Hannover
Andreas Felber, Conductor

Audio example: LKFF 3. Satz.mp3
Flyer: application/pdf iconMayako_Kubo - Künstlerinnenleben.pdf

Breathing Space at the Stadtgarten
Cologne Guitar Quartet

As part of the concert series TRIPCLUBBING of the Cologne Philharmonic, my piece “Breathing Space” will also be performed. Four “cool guys” – passionate, hot guitarists from four different nations – make my music sound so incredibly exciting I am going to need some breathing space of my own.

Breathing Space for Guitar Quartet
October 12th, 2017, 9:00 pm, Stadtgarten, Köln
Cologne Guitar Quartet :
Tal Botvinik, Tobias Juchem, Ptolemaios Armaos and Henrique Almeida

Geras in Amsterdam
Photo: Vogt-Sarah Harzer (Akkordeon)

Photo: Annelies van der Vegt (Klarinette)

The new festival “Nieuwenoten-Amsterdam” under the artistic direction of Fie Schouten begins on September 10th. Specialists of the New Music movement will be meeting in Amsterdam, where the Dutch audience is generally open to all sorts of foreign sounds. The duo of Fie Schouten and Marko Kassl will be there to transmit a whiff of meadow air from Geras to their listeners.

Geras Variations
for Clarinet and Accordion

September 10th, 2017, 3:00 pm,
De Ruimte, Amsterdam
Fie Schouten : Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Marko Kassl: Accordion


DLF-K Portrait Mayako Kubo „But I can do it through notes“

The Composer Mayako Kubo. By Matthias R. Entreß

Mayako Kubo is a free composer in every sense of the word – free of the trends of the New Music movement, free in choosing her instruments, and free to adapt to the skills and traditions of any ensemble or performer; and thus, ultimately, free from any constraints of a “personal style”. The form and sound of her music may not seem particularly Japanese, but the philosophy of her artistic work speaks volumes about her heritage. (Matthias Entreß)

Midnight Murder Mystery on the Radio “But I do it through notes”

radio Instead of listening to a midnight murder mystery on the radio, this time why not tune in to a portrait show. Entreß describes my work: in the feverish thicket of languages, in the musical Tower of Babel, Mayako Kubo charges against the “fathers” towards her own expressive self.

The Berlin composer Mayako Kubo, by Matthias Richard Entreß
June 20th, 2017 – 00:05 am to 01:00 am,
Deutschlandfunk Kultur 97.6Hz “Neue Musik”

For Diotima

Musik im Exil I am not a passionate reader of German literature, with one single exception: Hölderin. His Hyperion has been a companion in my life for many years. My viola solo “For Diotima” is from my musical theater “Hyperion Fragments”. To me, Hölderin is the quintessential intellectual exile. Dealing with the exile of musicians and their students from the Near and Far East, politically and historically relevant compositions are performed as part of the series “Mazel Tov International”. This year, the theme is viola and piano.

The lives and the works of all the composers featured in this concert are marked by migration and exile. Yet they do not necessarily see that experience as a loss, but also a gain in freedom. Works by: Yehuda Yannay, Isang Yun, Saburo Moroi, Kosaku Yamada, Paul Hindemith

„An Diotima“ for viola
Part of the series “Mazel Tov International”
Sunday, June 18th, 2017, 19:00
Schwartzsche Villa Steglitz
Grunewaldstr. 55, 12165 Berlin
Yossi Gutmann (viola), Yuko Tomeda (piano)

Musical Dialogues in Paderborn

Dialogus Iuvenum The German youth music contest “Jugend musiziert” will be held in Paderborn this year. The air at such a competitive event is thin and hot. But for young, aspiring musicians, “Jugend musiziert” is a great opportunity for exchange in musical dialogue.

„Dialogus Iuvenum“ for violin and accordion
Tuesday, June 6th, 2017 Gesamtschule Elsen, Paderborn
part of the federal youth music contest „Jugend musiziert“






A Song for Marianne
Foto: M. Kubo

Lied für Marianne I had the great fortune of finally meeting a woman at GEDOK Berlin; she supported me, she understood me. But our work together was to last only one year. A Song for Marianne is meant to help me with this indescribable loss.

“A Song for M” for hour of commemoration of Marianne Schulz-Hahn
2017 Mai 31th, 6 p.m. Chapell at the Dorotheenstädtischen Friedhof,
Chausseestr. 126,
10115 Berlin
Adelheid Krause-Pichler (Flute)






Ovartaci in Aarhus

A small clip on Youtube, from the performance “Puma stays Puma” from the opera Ovartaci.

Ovartaci - Crazy, Queer and Lovable. “Puma stays Puma”
by Mayako Kubo, after a text by Tanja Langer
VIA University Aarhus, May 2017
Thorbjörn Björnsson (baritone), Ramina Abdullah-Zadé (soprano), Claudia Herr (mezzo-soprano), Sabrina Ma (percussion)
Video recording: René Dybdal

Trip to Tel Aviv
Foto: TijsB | licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Tel Aviv Museum of art I constantly hear news from the Near East and deep concern grows between my brows. But hearing news of a performance of my “Atem Pause” in Tel Aviv smooths over my wrinkles.

I hope that my composition will make someone smile. New Music is meant to provoke thought, but sometimes it can simply warm the hearts of the audience.

„Atem Pause“ for guitar quartet
Saturday, May 20th, 2017 – 6:30 pm
as part of The Felicja Blumental International Music Festival
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Cologne Guitar-Quartet

Ovartaci returns home without a bicycle

Ovartaci Museum Ovartaci loved riding his bicycle. He was allowed to ride a long way from the hospital, and so I included an actual bicycle as a percussion instrument. Aarhus is this year's European Capital of Culture. I will be visiting there together with colleagues from the “Atonale” – but I will not be taking a bicycle with me. Our percussionist will be kindly lent a Danish bicycle in Aarhus.

There are Ovartaci museums and also the hospital where he spent most of his life. This tour will be a hunt for clues about sources of inspirations for Ovartaci, but I am also looking for inspiration myself.

„Puma stays Puma“ after texts by Tanja Langer and a scene from „Ovartaci – crazy, queer and lovable“ for baritone, two sopranos and percussion
Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 – 7 pm 
Ovartaci Museum in Aarhus, Denmark
Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 – 3 pm
Science Center Skejby, in Aarhus, Denmark
Thorbjörn Björnsson (baritone), Claudia Herr (mezzo-soprano), Ramina Abdullah-Zade (soprano), Sabrina Ma (percussion)

After 60 Seconds
Foto: Neues Museum (Anna Seibel)

Neues Museum (Anna Seibel) A colleague said to me: „Many of the music pieces tonight are boring after 60 seconds“. I instantly understood what he meant. 60 seconds are time enough to realize the intentions of the composer. And after 60 seconds, you are then faced with the question: "what now?" Should we blame today's information overload for the fact that hardly anyone these days seems able to patiently listen to an unknown piece of music?

Indeed, after 60 seconds I, too, was at a loss how to handle my notes. The four different sounds of flute, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon are mixed into chords, and unisons and parallel tutti movements create melodic cheerfulness. I also included little oases for soloists. But despite all that, the piece can still fall apart and become boring. Then again, boredom is always a subjective feeling. It is created in the head of the listener. My piece "After 60 Seconds" is meant to depict the difficult but also cheerful work of composing music.

After 60 Seconds for flute, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon UA
April 9th, 2017, 11.15 am
Neues Museum, Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design Nürnberg, Luitpoldstraße 5, 90402 Nürnberg
Ensemble : Pegnitzschäfer-Klangkonzepte
Marion Ludwig, flute
Simone Sitterle, clarinet
Wilfried Krüger, French horn
Shunsuke Ohomori, bassoon


Fahrradschild „Charin, Charin...!“ is how the Japanese describe the sound of a bicycle bell, and from that sound they also derive one of their words for bicycle. Bicycles are the center of the project, and music teacher Detlef and I want to use them for our sound. The project is about experimental composing: improvisation, performance, musical theater, movement on bicycles and with bicycles.

Together with students we compose a musical piece and perform it on stage. Let’s create “real” experimental musical theater! The resulting piece could even be a political statement. Join us in experiencing the culture of bicycles!

2017 March 23. 6 p.m.
Universität der Künste / Probensaal
Bundesallee 1-12
10719 Berlin
Festival „Maerz Musik“ Berlin
Students of Evangelische Schule Berlin Zentrum, Mitte
Assistant: Jakob Platzek
Team: Detlef Franz, Mayako Kubo

What comes after a festival?
Foto: Kubo

Baermann Trio During the famous Awa folk dance festival in Shikoku there is dancing for four whole days and nights. After such a festival you are completely exhausted, but despite the exertion everyone is always looking forward to dancing again at Awa the next summer. There must be some secret in the Awa music; whenever it sounds, I have to dance and just cannot stop.

My clarinet trio “Matsuri” (Japanese: “Festival”) is based on the dance music of Awa. The Bärmann Trio, who I have dedicated “Matsuri” to, also cannot stop playing the piece. Last year we had several successful concerts in both Germany and Japan. And every time they play “Matsuri”, the Bärmann Trio tells me: it's a beautiful piece, but it sure leaves you bushed. Now you know the secret of the Awa dance!

„Matsuri“ for clarinet trio
Bärmann Trio: Sven van der Kuip clarinet, Ulrich Büsing bass clarinet, John-Noel Attard piano
2017 Feb. 6. 19.30
Japanisch-Deutsches Zentrum Berlin JDZB
Saargemünderstr.2 14195 Berlin

12 Composers Write an Opera
Foto: Tanja Langer

The chamber opera “Ovartaci” is an experiment. 12 composers each write one scene. I know the text, but not the music. I wonder what my colleagues are coming up with?

The Danish artist Ovartaci (1894-1985) created a fantastic body of work – while in a mental institution. He believed that he had been a mountain lion, a flower, a butterfly, or that he had once lived in Ancient China. His ideal was the female being, and after two attempts at unmanning himself he was finally granted his transformation when he was 63 years old. The opera is an homage to an extraordinary human being, who created works full of fantasy while suffering from severe schizophrenia – at all times convinced that in doing so he was giving the world his love. More details:

„Mountain Lion Metamorphosis“ after texts by Tanja Langer; and one scene from „Ovartaci – crazy, queer and lovable“
January 11th and 12th, 2017. 8:00 pm each day
Staatsoper im Schiller Theater – Werkstatt
Bismarckstr. 110, 10625 Berlin
Thorbjörn Björnsson (baritone), Claudia Herr (mezzo-soprano), Ramina Abdullah-Zade (soprano), Alexandros Giovanos (percussion), Dirk Girschik (director)

What, How, and for Whom

What do I compose? How do I compose? These are questions that any composer will deal with alone throughout their lives. But the question: for Whom? is often even more complicated. For yourself? For the dead? Or simply for commission? How am I to compose a piece for world peace? In the end it doesn't help peace much, but remains merely as self-aggrandizement.

Why did I think of peace while writing “Fantasy – Ode to Joy” for the brass orchestra of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF)? The JGSDF are very important. Unlike us composers, the soldiers deal very directly with natural disasters and war.

The large brass orchestra of 65 soldiers, all professional musicians, not only play marching music but also rock, folk, and classic. After the Second World War, founding a new military in Japan was very controversial. Even today, many Japanese oppose its existence. The mistakes made in WWII must not be repeated. My own wish for preserving the 71-year peace has found its expression in this composition of mine.

The new CD was published under the label brain music records. The premiere will be on January 9th, 2017 at Hyogo Performing Arts Center. On January 8th there will also be a public rehearsal at the same location.

„Fantasy - Ode to Joy“ for large brass orchestra and soprano, UA, commissioned by the JGSDF
January 9th, 2017, 11:00 am
Hyogo Performing Arts Center
JGSDF Music Festival
Brass orchestra of the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) Middle Army. Higuchi Takahiro: conductor, Mai Tsugumi: soprano
January 8th, 2017, 6:00 pm, public dress rehearsal, Hyogo Performing Arts Center
CD: BOCD-7613 Brain Music

Beethoven meets Mayako Kubo

Who is my role model? For me, almost all the classical composers are role models and an inspiration, and I keep learning so much from them. But even among them, Beethoven is in a class of his own. If I could be his apprentice, I'd love to make coffee for him and help him with clean copies of his work. That, to me, should be the education of anyone studying composition. Not theory, not printed notes, but getting to know a composer as they are writing down their music.

Nov. 15th, 2016, 8.04pm – 10.00pm, WDR 3
„Beethoven trifft Mayako Kubo“ presented by Sabine Weber
Ludwig van Beethoven, Streichquartett op. 18-1
Mayako Kubo, String Quartet Nr. 1 "Glockenläuten" (“Ringing of the Bells”), German premiere
Ludwig van Beethoven, Streichquartett op. 59-2
Auryn Quartett

Breathless „Breathing Space“
Cologne Guitar Quartet

„Atempause“ („Breathing Space“) is literally composed of the letters A-T-E-M-P-A-U-S-E. They are sung and plucked on strings. The Cologne Guitar Quartet has won a prize with this piece during a contest of contemporary music in 2015. Now all prize winners can be heard in concert in Karlsruhe. I will be listening to my „Breathing Space“ with bated breath.

October 22nd, 2016, 7.30pm,
Schloss Gottesaue, Karlsruhe
„Atempause“ for Guitar Quartet
Cologne Guitar Quartet

Mother and Son

The relationship between mother and son is often very different from what she would like. 20 years ago I composed a little duet for my son, violin, and his friend, accordion. The two youngsters performed the piece splendidly. But now my son no longer plays the violin. The composition, however, remains; CD: kr 10042, performed by Susanne Zapf, violin, and Jan Jachmann, accordion. The sheet music is published by Verlag Neue Musik.

November 13th, 2016, 11.00am,
Künstlerhaus Betanien, Berlin Kreuzberg as part of the festival “Klangwerkstatt“
„Dialogus Iuvenum“ for violin and accordion
Rebekka Wagner, violin, and Maxine Bell, accordion




Love, Art, Strangers, Women
Berliner Mädchenchor

What does an artist's life insist on? Of course: love, art, strangers, women. For the anniversary concert of the GEDOK 90 I have written a big choir piece for 90 female voices and 5 sopranos. It sings about the inner and outer world of female artists: joyous, dark, powerful, destructive – but also full of hope.

Reading many texts by various female poets, I got a feeling for the life of a heroine. Poets are heroines. Painters are heroines.

Saturday, October 8th, 2016, 7.30pm
Heilig Kreuz Kirche, Zossener Str. 65, 10961 Berlin

Love, Art, Strangers, Women – The Life of Female Artists
for women's choir and 5 sopranos UA
Text: Elke Erb | Meiko Matsudaira | Gisela Weimann | Ingeborg Bachmann
Choir: Vokalconsort des Berliner Mädchenchor | Classical Lesbians | Singfrauen Berlin | Ensemble Nagomi
Soloists: Irene Kurka | Maacha Deubner | Sibylle Fischer | Franziska Welti | Franziska Welti | Miho Kinoshita
Choir Directors: Yukari Ishimoto | Sibylle Fischer | Franziska Welti
Musical Director: Sabine Wüsthoff

Singfrauen Berlin

Tobbi sings Herbeck
Alexandros Givanos

Tobbi presents a new take on 6 songs after poems by Ernst Herbeck. An artist's life takes place at the border between normal and abnormal life. Often that border is blurred: what appears is “an unfiltered access to the unconscious” or “a new way of experiencing the world” at the historic building of the Alte Nervenklinik der Charité at Charité Campus, Berlin Mitte. Featuring a lecture by psychiatrist Dr. Bernd Haslinger of the Charité Berlin.

Friday, September 30th , 2016, 7.30pm as part of the Atonale Concert “auf dem Weg zu einer Oper OVARTACI“ Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie der Charité, Bonhoefferweg 3, 10117 Berlin
6 Herbeck Songs for Baritone and Drums , UA new version
Thorbjörn Björnsson: Baritone; Alexandros Giovanos: Drums

Thorbjörn Björnsson

By Night and by Fog in Late Summer
Luisa Lohmann

After such a nice summer, autumn is just around the corner. With it come dark nights and thick fog. It makes you dream, safe inside your home: what would I do at night, in the fog? This piece is just right for getting into an autumnal mood, and it makes you think about the future.

It is an homage to two poets: Reinhold Koestlin, and the Neukoelln poet Marion Bretschneider. For a well-to-do person in the 19th century, a scene of night and fog would surely evoke an image of romantic love. But at night in 21st century Neukoelln you could just as easily meet a woman going through the trash looking for returnable bottles.

„By Night and by Fog“ for clarinet and bass clarinet
September 17th, 7:00pm
Pyramide, opening of the exhibit „Urban“ by GEDOK Berlin
Riesaer Str. 94, 12627 Berlin
Luisa Lohmann, clarinet

Ode to Awe
The japan ground self-defense force middle
army music band

The most important legacy left to us by German soldiers was music. In the year 1918, Beethoven's 9th Symphony saw its very first performance in Japan in the prison camp in Bando, on the southern island of Shikoku. The brass and string instruments belonged to the soldiers. They played for themselves, for their comrades, and for their country. What a mind-set, and what will! The results are visible still today: European music is present throughout Japan. One example of those musical fruits can be found in the Japanese Military Music Corps (established 1951). It is a phenomenal band of professional musicians that are also soldiers. Where you ask for 'hard power', you find 'soft power': Ode to Awe!

When the musical director of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces asked me to compose a piece for the band, I immediately answered: YES! The result was a large brass-band piece: “Fantasy Ode to Joy”.

They are already practicing diligently, and in September 2016 they will record the piece. It is set to be published on their new CD in December, under the label brain music records. The first public performance will take place on January 8th, 2017 at City Hall Nishinomiya.

Mazel Tov in Japan II

Mazel Tov in Japan IIThe history of German and Austrian composers in Japan is largely unknown. Japan was a refuge to persecuted musicians, most of them Jewish, and helped them survive. Despite their hardships, they managed to establish and develop themselves there as musicians and educators.

While investigating the stories of those musicians I encountered many interesting biographies, as well as their musical works. The second Mazel Tov concert will also feature a piece by Toshio Kashiwagi, who has sadly been mostly forgotten these days. I myself have also written a piece for the pianist Elzbieta: “Stumbling Block”.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2016, 8pm
Elzbieta Sternlicht – evening with piano
Schwartzsche Villa – Berlin Steglitz

Toshio Hosokawa| Toshio Kashiwagi| Mayako Kubo Stumbling Blocks (2015) UA | Toru Takemitsu | Joseph Laska | Alexander Tcherepnin


Geras is everywhere
Marko Kassel | Robert Beck
Foto: Nils Imhorst
Felix Kroll | Sabina Matthus-Bébié 
Alfred Melichar
Foto: Reinhard Winkler
Stefan Neubauer
Foto: Severin Neubauer

Sabina Matthus-Bébié und Felix KrollMarko Kassel und Robert BeckIn May, the Geras Variations are in full bloom: in Aachen, in Vienna, and in Berlin. Before, no one knew where Geras was. Now many have heard of Stift Geras. I am always amazed at how many duos there are for accordion and clarinet. Wonderful musicians with not a hint of fear of something new, and they always tell me of their great ideas. The mix of accordion and clarinet is magical. Sometimes the sound is as colorful as an entire orchestra, but flowing in harmony as though it was a single instrument.

Alfred Melichar„Geras Variations“ 
for Accordion and Clarinet/Bass Clarinet

May 13th, 2016, 8 p.m., , Klangbrücke im Alten Kurhaus, Kurhausstr. 1, 52058 Aachen
Marko Kassel Accordion | Robert Beck Clarinet


May 24th, 2016, 7:30 p.m, Arnold Schönberg CenterSchwarzenbergplatz 6, A-1030 Wien
Alfred Melichar Accordion | Stefan Neubauer Clarinet

May 31st, 2016, 8:30 p.m, Unerhörte Musik Berlin
Mehringdamm 34, 10961 Berlin
Felix Kroll Accordion | Sabina Matthus-Bébié Clarinet


Bucket Symphony “Scrub, Scrub, Splash!”
Foto: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Putz, Putz, Patsch! Foto: Erik-Jan OuwerkerkWorking with children is always a joy for me. They get fidgety when the music is boring, but when they get into making music themselves they can create the most unbelievable sounds – even from a bucket.

27 students of Sandsteinweg Elementary (Grundschule am Sandsteinweg, SAMS) from the 3rd grade (under teacher Eva Henke) worked together with two composers (Mayako Kubo / Laurie Schwartz) to create the bucket symphony “Scrub, Scrub, Splash!”. Together we explored the motions and sounds of buckets and developed them into music. This bucket symphony is a truly cooperative effort of the composers and the students themselves.

May 11th 2016, 5 p.m.
Gymnasium of the SAMS
Hornblendeweg 2
12349 Berlin

The Waves of Sanriku Reach Kyoto

The coast at Fukushima is called Sanriku. It is beautiful. 5 years ago, just after the catastrophic tsunami on March 11th, 2011, I went to visit the Sanriku coast. It would have been beautiful then as well, had it not been for all the houses drifting on the water like so many discarded cigarette packets. The Tanka poet Meiko Matsudaira sent me ten of her tanka poems one month after the disaster. They were both powerful and disconcerting. I felt my inner urge telling me: I have to turn this into music. At the end of June, my „Sanriku Songs“ had their premiere in Berlin; now they are going to be performed in Kyoto.

The waves of that tsunami had reached my heart then, and now, five years later, they can wash over the hearts of the audience in Kyoto as well.

„Sanriku Songs“ for soprano und strings
April 17th, 2016, 2:30 pm
Kyoto Concert Hall
Ichiro Saito (conductor), Eiko Morikawa (soprano),
Kyoto Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra


Together with Beethoven in Bonn
© Beethoven-Haus Bonn,

It is a rare thing to see New Music alongside Beethoven. The Auryn Quartett makes the impossible possible. My first string quartet is going to be played in between two of Beethoven's own (op. 18 No. 1, op. 59 No. 2). As I was composing, I kept thinking of my mother; you really could say that I wrote the piece in her memory.

The string quartet is based on the popular folk song „Oh wie wohl ist mir am Abend“ (“How lovely is the evening”). Its compositional structure however is strongly influenced by the poem “Am Abend” (In the Evening) by Ingeborg Bachmann: Abends frag ich meine Mutter / heimlich nach dem Glockenläuten,/ wie ich mir die Tage deuten / und die Nacht bereiten soll...... (Evenings I ask my mother / in secret when the bells have tolled / how the days might still unfold, / how the night is to be spent...)

String Quartet No. 1 „Tolling of the Bells“
April 22nd, 2016, 8:00pm
Beethoven-Haus Bonn



Mazel tov in Japan

The history of the German and Austrian composers who went to Japan at the beginning of the 20th century is largely unknown. Although a military dictatorship since the early 1930s, Japan offered refuge to the persecuted, mostly Jewish composers and musicians. However, through the alliance with Nazi Germany, a peaceful life there was by no means self-evident. Nevertheless, many of them were able to establish themselves in Japan and even flourish there as musicians, composers, conductor and not least, as educators.

Thanks to the pioneering work of musicians such as Leonid Kreutzer, Joseph Rosenstock, Klaus Pringsheim, Western music was introduced, received and accepted in Japan. Interestingly, these musicians were not perceived as enemies to the reactionary, nationalist cultural policies of the Japanese military government of the 1940s. Over the ensuing decades, Western music was revered and became itself part of Japan’s culture, more than in any other Asian country. The Japanese forerunner and mediator between Japanese and Western music was the composer and conductor Kosaku Yamada. Additionally, the Japanese composers Yasuji Kiyose and Fumio Hayasaka supported the actions of the Western composers and musicians, either as their students or as propagators of their teachings.

In postwar Japan, this reciprocal influence led to a unique musical language. Composers such as Toru Takemitsu, Toshio Hosokawa and Mayako Kubo are the main representatives of this generation. They find their inspiration in Japanese classical music, but also integrate all the "achievements" of Western influence in their works, which in turn influences contemporary music in Europe. (Zenaida des Aubris)

Piano recital with Elżbieta Sternlicht
Sunday, March 13th,2016 7pm;
Schwartzsche Villa Steglitz Grunewaldstr. 55, 12165 Berlin

With works by:
Josef Rosenstock(1986-1964) - Sonate e-Moll Op. 3 (1919)
Klaus Pringsheim (1883-1972) - Short Piano Studies (1947)
Joseph Laska (1986- 1964) - Japanische Melodien (1935)
Fumio Hayasaka (1914-1955) - Klaviersuite (1941)
Kosaku Yamada (1886-1965) - Genji story (1917)
Mayako Kubo (1947) - Viertel des Lebens (2003)

Geras won't stay in Geras
Foto: Nils Imhorst


Geras won't stay in Geras. The innovative duo Beck&Kassl will be performing my „Geras Variations“ for the first time in Germany.

I'm excited to see if the German audience will appreciate a whiff of fresh air blowing in from Stift Geras.

2016 Feb. 12. 7.30 pm, Music college Muenster Ludgeriplatz 1
Festival of contemporary music “ Klangzeit Muenster”
Robert Beck clarinet. Marko Kassl Accordion


Where is the Bärmanntrio going on tour?
Minato Mirai Hall Yokohama


February and March are a busy time for the Bärmanntrio. Aside from their regular orchestra duties (they are members of the Hessisches Rundfunk Orchester), they will also be giving three concerts in Germany and four in Japan. Their performances feature names like Mendelssohn, Schumann, Saint-Saens, Glinka, and of course Kubo. The Japanese audiences tend to be a little conservative. My clarinet trio “Matsuri” will blow some fresh notes into the concert halls.

2016 Feb 7th 11.00 am
Nebbiensches Gartenhaus Frankfurt
Bockenheimer Anlage, near Hilton Hotel Frankfurt am Main
2016 Feb 12th 7.30 pm
Hoch'sches Konservatorium, Humperdinck Saal
Sonnemannstr. 16, 60314 Frankfurt
2016 Feb 13th 7.30 pm
Alt-Königstift Kronberg
Feldbergstr. 13 61470 Kronberg

Japan Tournee
2016 Feb 29th 7.00 pm
Dolce Artist Salon Osaka, Flyer
2016 Mar 2th 2.00 pm
Workshop and concert in Totsuka Musikgymnasium, Yokohama
2016 Mar 3th 10.00 am
 Workshop and concert in German School Yokohama
2016 Mar 4th 12.10 pm Flyer
 Minato Mirai Hall Großer Saal Yokohama

The largest cooperative composition in the world
Foto: Johannes Zillhardt


125 of the most important contemporary composers have joined in the initiative of the Forum Zeitgenössischer Musik Leipzig [FZML; Forum for Contemporary Music Leipzig] to collectively compose “Party Pieces”. After the world premiere in New York, this largest cooperative composition ever will now have its very first European performance on January 20th. One of my little pieces is also part of it. The beautiful complete score “CAGE 100 Box” is available from the FZML and contains the “Best Edition 2014” published by the Deutscher Musikverleger-Verband [Association of German Music Publishers]. Congratulations!

The performance with 125 different styles and instrumentations will be conducted by Gerhard Müller-Goldboom. It will be a truly enormous effort. Thank you so much, Gerhard!

2016 Jan 20th, 7:30 pm
Ensemble WORK IN PROGRESS Berlin
Gerhard Müller-Goldboom, director
UT Connewitz Leipzig, Wolfgang-Heinze-Str. 12a, 04277 Leipzig

O so suddenly!
O so suddenly!“ Nr.2 (2015) UA,  for piano, four-handed by Mayako Kubo
December 17th 2015,  Staatsoper im Schillertheater Berlin (Werkstatt)
Piano: Norie Takahashi | Björn Lehmann
Sound and camera: Martin Daske | Editor: Tribord Studio Berlin

By Night and Fog

Here's a little peek at the recording of the premiere of “By Night and Fog”.
Luisa Lohmann, clarinet

Geras sounds
Photo: Kubo


The Austrian accordion player Alfred Melichar and the clarinetist Simon Reitmaier have performed a very convincing premiere of my “Geras Variants” in the marble hall at the Geras stift, and there was passionate applause. Here is the newspaper article on it.

Link to news article (german) 








Congratulations to the young guitar quartet
Kölner Gitarrenquartett,


The Kölner Gitarren Quartett has won the sponsorship award at the Contest for the Interpretation of Contemporary Music 2015.

They played my piece “Atem Pause” (“Breathless”) with literally breathless intensity.

Link to press release (german)


Shaping the future: Japan in Europe
Photo: Norihide Miyoshi

Japan is a beautiful country. It's known in the West especially for sushi and manga. But there's so much more!

Japan also has some tough tasks ahead of itself: energy, communications with neighboring countries, climate, whaling, etc.

Early in December, figures from economics and politics met at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and thought about how to improve Japan's image. I did my contribution at a discussion panel with Adolf Muschg and Masatsugu Ono. My statement: art must not be exploited to polish up the country. Art is independent, but it also has a big responsibility towards society.

A Cultural Exile
Irene Kurka |   Photo: Hartmut Bühler

Natalia Pschenitschnikova Photo: German Vinogradov

Berlin is full of asylum seekers, but also of cultural exiles. I myself am not forced to live in Germany, but 40 years ago I did not want to remain in Japan. As I saw it, there were no perspectives in art for me there. The poem “Exile” by Ingeborg Bachmann described my situation at that time exactly. I still struggle with the German language, but I'm happy with brown bread and miso soup.

„darkened...“, after the poem
Exil by Ingeborg Bachmann
Januar 5th 2016, 8:30 pm Unerhörte Musik
Mehringdamm 34, 10961 Berlin
Natalia Pschenitschnikova, soprano

darkened...“ , after the poem
Exil by Ingeborg Bachmann UA
January 23rd, 2016, 4:00 pm
GEDOK Galerie, closing ceremony of the exhibit
Motzstraße 59, 10777 Berlin
Irene Kurka, soprano

O so suddenly! - Atonal at the Staatsoper
Norie Takahashi, Björn Lehmann

In life as in composing: sudden events leave you speechless, or prompt you to turn them into something positive. The goal is to be ready to deal with the unexpected; but the unexpected can also be a sudden delight. I have set myself a little task: to turn the Awa-dance melody I suddenly encountered into a fun little piece.

"O so suddenly! Nr. 2" for piano, four-handed
December 17th 2015, 8:00 pm
Staatsoper im Schiller Theater (Werkstatt)
Bismarckstr. 110, 10625 Berlin
PianoDuo : Norie Takahashi and Björn Lehmann

Sabbatical 2015

The first half of 2015 was my sabbatical. Away from the constant pressure of deadlines and the feeling of “gotta do”. It also happened to coincide with the renovations of my little composer home, which was just as well. I could finally say with vigor and conviction: I don't have a desk! But somehow I just couldn't enjoy this time off at first. I kept thinking: “I have to work!”. But when you can't use either desk or piano, what is a composer to do? Just sleep and take walks. A grand fermata!

I did spend a lovely summer in Austria, though, in the small village of Geras in Lowe Austria. The air smelled of hay and storks had a nest up above. Thanks to the “Geras klint” association I had a chance to do my composing in the marble hall of the local “stift” (a property donated to the clergy). That certainly helped reinvigorate my creative powers.

Praise be to an artist's sabbatical!

Geras – Variations

The Geras stift lies in Lower Austria, 30km from the Czech border. A relic from the middle ages – and maybe an inspiration from above? The tall ceilings of the building greeted me every day with beautiful paintings by Paul Trogers, depicting Jesus and the Multiplication of the Loaves. Every day I was surrounded by beautiful marble and stucco. Can this be a place for a modern-day composer? Oh yes! Perhaps it was the atmosphere there that increased my creativity. I managed to write two chamber music pieces during the three weeks I spent there. One is now going to see its premiere in the very marble halls of its creation.

Geras Variations for accordion and clarinet/bass clarinet
Alfred Melicher, accordion
Simon Reitmaier, clarinet
Oct. 18th, 2015 4:00 pm, marble hall,
Stift Geras, Lower Austria

Symposium at the Goethe Institute Tokyo:
Cultural Education in the East and the West
Foto: JP Wolff

Children in the East and the West are not the same, but they are similar. But the grownups, I mean the teachers and cultural experts, are very dissimilar. When I compare my two opera projects, “Dreamplay” 2012 in Berlin and “Dreams” 2014 in Kuki, I am forced to notice the so very different views on culture in both countries. At the Goethe Institute Tokyo we will for the first time gather both Japanese musicians and educators, and German teachers and experts on cultural education from Berlin.

The event itinerary includes visiting a school, many lectures, and a round table discussion at Tokyo University. I am very much looking forward to all the different opinions. Everyone is welcome to participate in the symposium. The entry is free.

Oct 21st, 2015, 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm,
Goethe Institute Tokyo, German and Japanese, with translation


Tower of Pisa in Tokyo
Tsunehito Tsuchihashi

Gaku Yamada

Finally you can listen to (see) the Tower of Pisa in Tokyo.

Two daring young guitarists have the courage to have an evening performance with two duo compositions, one by me and one by Lachemann. “Salute for Claudwell” by Lachemann is a legendary piece of contemporary guitar composition. My duo piece “Attempt at a Tower of Pisa” was created after I visited the Tower. When I was facing the giant slanting structure, I closed my eyes and imagined how the Tower was built, and that I was running around inside.

I will be present at the concert and give a short introduction.

Attempt at a Tower of Pisa, with addition

Oct. 30th, 2015 7:00 pm,
Tokyo Art Museum, Tokyo

Chofu, Sengawa 1-25-1
Gaku Yamada, guitar 
Tsunehito Tsuchihashi, guitar

Miso Soup and Dark Bread
Kwansei Gakuin University

Tradition-rich Kwansei Gakuin university has invited me for a lecture. The topic is my relationship to European music and Japanese literature, as exemplified by my opera works. I will be talking about my everyday work. The title of my lecture is “To me, Composing means eating Miso Soup with Dark Bread”. Both miso soup and dark bread are an everyday food to me. It is difficult to find good miso in Germany. Just as difficult as finding good Japanese literature. Finding good dark bread and listening to good European music is a daily struggle. Perhaps my own work is a mix of both...

Oct 31st, 2015, 2:00 pm
Cho-Memorialhall der Kwansei-University
Nishinomiya, Kotoen, 1-11-12

Reinhold Köstlin and Neukoelln
Luisa Lohmann

What connection is there between Reinhold Köstlin (1813-1856) and the Berlin city district of Neukölln? The Neuköllner poet Marion Bretschneider and also Köstlin himself both wrote a poem called “In night and fog”. I ask myself: what sort of things do you do at night, in the fog? What sort of clandestine action takes place? It stimulates the imagination. A proper citizen of the 19th century may imagine a romantic love scene. In 21st century Neukölln, you may encounter a lady rummaging through containers of empty bottles at night, in the fog. Or you may see her thinking about collection empty bottles. Those sorts of fantasies are the basis for my compositions.

In Night and Fog”, for clarinet and bass clarinet (one performer)
Luisa Lohmann, clarinet
July 5th, 2015, 5:00 pm
Mendelssohn Remise, GEDOK-Concert

Fever after String Quartet – Audio Samples

Last year my first string quartet „Tolling of the Bells“ had its premiere performed by the Auryn Quartet. You can hear the bells ring in the third movement. Here is a recording of the premiere at the Schlosssaal in Mondsee.





The second string quartet „Space intimate“ was first performed by the Sonar Quartet. Here is a recording of the premiere.



I am increasingly fascinated with composing string quartets. But when the third one will be ready, the stars alone know. Both pieces have just been published by Verlag Neue Musik.

No breather when you „Stop for Breath“
Mosaic Guitar Quartett


The young Mosaic guitar quartet from Cologne risks running out of air as they play „Stop for Breath“. There is a lovely recording on Youtube.

Compared to a string quartet, I can be a lot more relaxed when composing a guitar quartet. But that doesn't mean that it's easier. Having four of the same instrument, such as four guitars, often makes me very angry; switching tone color is not an easy thing to do!

„Stop for Breath“ for guitar quartet
Feb. 6th, 2015, 7:00 pm,
Konzertsaal Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Aachen

The Fun of Working Together

Working together with performers can be tough. Is the composition too difficult or unplayable? Does it match their musical taste? At the premiere I'm always so worried.

But working together with the Bärmanntrio was very successful and I had a lot of fun. “Matsuri” (Japanese for “festival”) is not an easy piece. The trio gave me ideas on how to improve the piece, and never tired of trying things out. Now we get to hear “Matsuri” in Berlin.

„Matsuri“ for clarinet trio, Bärmanntrio:
Sven van Kuip, clarinet
Ulrich Büsing, bass clarinet
John Noel Attard, piano

Dezember 16th 2014, 8:30 pm, Unerhörte Musik
BKA Mehringdamm 34, 10961 Berlin



Mystery of the Guitar Sound

One may wonder why the music for “Izanagi and Izanami” sounded so very Japanese in Tokyo. The young guitarist Tsunehito Tsuchihashi played “Izanami's Tears” and “Izanagi's Call” at Tokyo Art Museum. Both pieces sounded like shamisen music. The air in Japan, the home of Izanagi and Izanami, is moist and smells of the sea. Was that why?

Now both pieces are also going to be played at the Goethe Institute in Tokyo. Perhaps they'll sound European there... Christine Ivanovic will be presenting her book “Izanagi and Izanami” to a Japanese audience for the first time.

“Izanami's Tears” and “Izanagi's Call” part of the book presentation “Izanagi and Izanami” by Christine Ivanovic at the Goethe Institute Tokyo:

Dezember 16th 2014, 7:00 pm,
Aoyama 1 Chome, Minato-ku, Tokio
Tsunehito Tsuchihashi, guitar



Music against Japanese Composure

Yesterday, today, tomorrow – every day the earth trembles in Japan. But in their everyday lives, the Japanese are more composed than they are afraid. „What can we do to earthquakes but ignore them?“ they say and give me a friendly smile. I do a serious face and answer their composure with a composition:

„Aftershock“ for piano.

Dezember 2nd 2014, 7:30 pm, Concert of the GEDOK Berlin
Schwartzsche Villa, Grunewaldstr. 55, 12165 Berlin

application/pdf iconKonzert_Nov2014_GEDOK_Einladung_web.pdf



“Private Space”

For the longest time I've realized that the materials for my music originate in personal experiences. Music is the product of what I feel and how I react, and that does not come from some great ideal or thesis. Writing music is an intimately subjective process.

For that reason, I call my Second String Quartet “Private Space”. It's capricious and oftentimes scattered. The daring virtuoso quartet Sonar Quartett will develop my private space acoustically.

November 22nd 2014, 6:30 pm,
Ackerstadtpalast Berlin, Ackerstr. 169, 10115 Berlin
String Quartet No. 2 “Private Space” word premiere,
Sonar Quartett Berlin





Izanagi und Izanami in Tokio

My concert trip to Salzburg was beautiful and relaxing. How amazing to take a walk around Mondsee lake! Life in the megacity Tokyo on the other hand is tiring and loud, but also very interesting. People working and living all around the clock. I am not sure if the audience will have time to quietly listen to the music of Izanagi and Izanami.

Guitarrist Tsunehito Tsichihashi, trained in Berlin, has assembled an interesting program. In between Bach and Henze, there are Izanagi and Izanami. Japan is the home of this pair of gods – but will they feel at home? I will be giving a brief introduction to the compositions.

November 22nd 2014, 7:00 pm,
TAM, Tokio Art Museum, 1-24-1 Sengawa, Chofu city
Tsunehito Tsuchihashi, guitar



Their Dreams Now Come True

The students at Kiyoku Elementary School can scarcely believe it: their dreams are becoming music and will resound in a giant hall. But the teachers are even more excited than the students. They have helped shape this project and helped me tremendously. The school is preparing a grand event for its very own opera. I have written the score according to the children's abilities.

The story for the opera comes from their dreams (and nightmares). They create all the props themselves, they play in the orchestra, they sing as the opera choir, and they dance! There's even solo singers!! Finally we can see and hear the children's dreams on stage. Bravo to the students of Kiyoku Elementary School!!!

November 28th 2014, 2:00 pm,
Kuki House of Culture, Grand Hall
Composition and text:
Mayako Kubo (4th scene: text by Mirei Sugaya, 5th grade)
Director: Norio Baba
Conductor: Kosei Miwa
Solos, choir, orchestra, dance, stage design:
Schüler der Kiyoku Grundschule 3. bis 6. Klasse
Costumes: Kenzo Takada
Duration: 45 minutes

The Sea at Fukushima does not rest
Photo:  Asacyan | licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The National Youth Ensemble New Music (Landesjugendensemble Neue Musik, LJENM) keeps on thriving, and my composition “The Sea”, which I wrote especially for the Ensemble, also does not rest. Working together with the conductor Gerhard Scherer was a long and often difficult process, but I'm always surprised by how the impossible suddenly becomes possible. The young musicians of the Ensemble are brave and very talented. As long as the polluted waters still flow into the sea at Fukushima, “The Sea” will keep on sounding.

October 18th 2014, 8:00 p.m.
Tischlerei der Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bismarckstr. 35, 10627-Berlin

October 30th 2014
Grandhotel Ahrenshoop, Schifferberg 24 Ahrenshoop, 18347 Ostseebad

November 8th 2014, 6:00 p.m.
Sophiensäle, as part of the program of Klangwerkstatt Festival für Neue Musik, Sophienstr. 18, 10178 Berlin

Landesjugendensemble Neue Musik
Conductor: Gerhard Scherer, Soprano: Karina Repova

What do Japanese Children dream of?
Photo:  Okada

The children's opera project „Dreamplay“ started in September at Kiyoku Elementary School. The school is located in Kiku City, one hour by train from Tokyo, and here rice paddies can be seen between the small houses. „Dreamplay“ was first shown three years ago at Jens Nydhal Elementary School in Kreuzberg, Berlin. The dreams were those of the students there. This time I collected the dreams of the Japanese children. There are funny dreams, but also many nightmares.

132 students learned together with me how to improvise and to experiment. My task is to get the students as well as the teachers to open up, and to let themselves be elated by the spirit of experimental music. There's still two and a half months until premiere. I will update on my progress...

Britten, Kreuzberg Kids and the LJENM

On a radio show titled „Composing for children and adolescents“ my two latest compositions “On the Bridge” and “The Sea” were broadcast. The author of the show, Matthias Nöther, presented my works on equal grounds with music by Britten and Maxwell Davis. The students at Jens Nydahl Elementary School in Kreuberg, Berlin are just amazing.

The National Youth Ensemble New Music (Landesjugendensemble Neue Musik, LJENM) worked hard familiarizing themselves with the complicated notes. 19-year old singer Karina Repova was simply magnificent. I think Britten, too, had a feeling for how grateful young people are.

Sequence from radio broadcast "JetztMusik", SWR 2
September 15th 2014, 23:05 Uhr


Title: Pädagogik, Avantgarde oder beides? - Komponieren für Kinder
           (Education, avant garde or both - Composing for Kids)
Author: Matthias Nöther
Web page of SWR

Oh how well do I feel in the evening when the bells are
ringing over Moon lake
Auryn Quartett | Photo:  Thorsten Krienke  
licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Sarah-Luise Traubel

I have been invited to participate in the well-established festival “Musiktage Mondsee” as Composer in residence. Themed “Johannes Brahms, companions and opponents” four of my compositions will be performed.

I am especially glad to have my first string quartet “Glockenläuten” premiered by Auryn Quartet. This piece is based upon the folk song “Oh how well do I feel in the evening when the bells ring for peace and quiet”.

During the premiere I will surely not be peaceful and quiet when Auryn Quartet let the bells ring. My heart will be full of tension and unrest.

August 30th 2014,  7:30 p.m., Opening, Schloss Mondsee
Sanriku Lieder for Sopran and Stringquintet
Sarah-Luise Traubel, soprano
Ernst Weissensteiner, bass
Auryn Quartett

September 2nd 2014,  7:30 p.m., „Liebesleid“, Schloss Mondsee
 and Repeating Illusions für Violoncello und Klavier
Wen-Sinn Yang, cello
Henri Sigfridsson, piano

September 5th 2014, 5:00 pm,
portrait of composer Mayako Kubo, Schloss Mondsee

September 5th 2014, 7:30 pm,
„Brahms the progressive“, Schloss Mondsee

First stringquartet „Glockenläuten“,
Commissioned work of Musiktage Mondsee, World premiere

Auryn Quartett

祭り- Matsuri
Baermann Trio:
Sven van der Kuip (clarinet),
Ulrich Büsing (clarinet),
John Noel Attard (piano)

A celebration is called Matsuri in Japanese. Natsu-Matsuri is the most important summer celebration and resembles the European carnival. The piece called Matsuri illustrates the collective noise made during the Awa-Odori dance. Awa-Odori is one of the many passionate summer dances performed by the people from the island of Shikoku. People dance to a simple two-four time rhythm at a sound level of 100 dB for four days until they collapse. Every street is transformed into an endless giant disco. The magic phenomen of dancing in a crowd is a mystery to me.

I guess I have to learn to let myself go to be able to dance freely. Therefore, in this piece, I have tried to let go during the process of composing it, as well. The world premiere of this piece will be in Frankfurt on July 19, 2014 at the Japanese Culture Center, performed by the Bärmann Trio.

I am curious how the audience will react to it. Maybe they will also start to dance?

July 19th 2014, 6:00 p.m., World Premiere
Japanese Culture Center Frankfurt
Rossmarkt 13, 60311 Frankfurt am Main

July 20th 2014, 8:00 p.m., World Premiere
Ev. Community Hall
Kirchgasse 1, Niestetal-Sandershausen

My Marvelous Neighbours

The poets that created the Neukölln Haikus are all living in our neighbourhood. When our group of artists from Grauwackeweg started to collect those poems three years ago we spotted astonishingly true-to-life Haikus.
Ulrike Sowodniok will perform seven Haikus with her magic voice and we shall talk about the unlimited opportunities of singing and composing in the 21st century.

Talk concert: Ulrike Sowodniok, sopran and performance, Mayako Kubo and moderated by Adelheid Krause-Pichler

July 9th 2014, 7:30 p.m.,
GEDOK GALERIE Berlin, Motzstraße 59, 10777 Berlin-Schöneberg

Before the Tower of Pisa falls...

If you have heard about something a thousand times, then you will fashion your own picture of it. For example the tower of Pisa. I have seen lots of photos and have often heard about it. When I finally saw stood in front of the structure, I found myself not thinking about its grandiose architecture, but about the difference between my imagined tower and the real one before my very eyes. That's how the piece for two guitars "Essay about the tower of Pisa with an Epilogue" came about.

The young guitar duo from Hamburg, Duo Cordinha, wants to climb the tower before it falls down.

Essay about the tower of Pisa with an Epilogue

June 24th 2014, 8:00 p.m.
Hamburg University of Music and Theater, Fanny-Hensel-Saal
Harvestehuderweg 12,  20148 Hamburg

Duo Cordinha, Veronika Grütter and Jochen Brückner

On the Admiralbridge
Photo:  Andreas Schild
On the bridge:


Together with my friend Christine Meyke every year I am working on music performances with the kids of Jens-Nydahl-Elementary School. It is exciting and rewarding. On the Admiralbridge there are coming together the kids from Kottbusser Kiez with the kids of the Bürgermeister-Herz-Elementary School from Graefe Kiez. We have a special introductory naming game (Namenspiel) which is a special composition of mine. One by one the kids are introducing themselves and singing all together: There are men all around the earth. The stage costume design has been created by the internationally known fashion designer KENZO.

As I am considering my work as some kind of building bridges I will not limit myself on the Landwehrkanal in Berlin. I also want to bend over the sea. It was Kerstin Wiehe who for the first time initiated this kind of experimental compositon in public schools. Now I will practice this for the first time at Kiyoku-Elementary School in Japan. In September 2014 I am going to work there for three month together with Japanese pupils. I very much hope that in the near future you will listen to kids from Berlin as well as from Japan chanting together on the Admiralbrücke.

„On the Bridge“
June 19th 2014, 2 p.m.
, Admiralbrücke, Berlin Kreuzberg
Pupils of Jens-Nydahl-Elementary-School and Bürgermeister-Herz-Elementary-School
In case of bad weather the concert will take place at the school: Kohlfurterstr. 20, 10999 Berlin

June 23rd 2014, 6 p.m. Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche, Zossenerstr.65, Berlin Kreuzberg

Audio Example: Epitaph for RHR

performed by Wiener Ensemble Collage
Recording by ORF

8 Years Air of Vienna
© Universal Edition

If you breath the air of Vienna for eight years you might have some right to feel as a Viennese. I for myself can hardly judge if my pieces have this special Vienese sound. But it is true that I am an addict to the light footed melancholy of Vienna.

My teacher, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati has been my mentor for years. He used to teach me composition in the famous Cafe Schwarzenberg, where the light melancholy of Vienna was in the air. He gave me the idea of how important music is, and he encouraged me to patiently continue in composition: Just go on, be patient! He died 20 years ago.

We now gather at a Round Table and we are giving a concert in his honour.

„Epitaph für RHR“ World Premiere
June 17th 2014, 17:00 Uhr Round Table, 19:30 Uhr Concert

Arnold Schönberg Center, Schwarzenbergplatz 6, 1060 Vienna
Wiener Ensemble Collage, Rene Staar, Dir., Johannes Fleischmann, Vl., Rafal Zalech, Vla., Roland Schüler, Vc., Alfred Melichar, Akk.

Izanagi and Izanami a newly discovered piece by
honored austrian writer Erich Fried

As Erich Fried wrote his first radio play, “Izanagi and Izanami”, - referring on a famous mythical story on the founding of Japan from the 8th century and using some of the most beautiful poems of ancient Japanese poetry - there was only little interest and understanding within the German speaking world.
Two times the piece went on broadcast in the early sixties – and got out of sight and sound for decades. Nobody ever remembered it until its recent rediscovery in the depths of the National Literature Archive in Vienna. Nowadays scholars estimate its rare beauty and strict sense for the lyrical tone which seems to be so apt to the old fashioned love story of Izanagi and Izanami, the gods and siblings, man and woman, who once created Japan, its islands, its gods, its people...

These days, Fried's piece has been published for the first time ever. The book is out of print now – and we will celebrate this event with a book promotion at the Institute for Japanese Studies at Vienna University. When I first listened to my friend, the editor of the book, Christine Ivanovic, talking about Fried's attempts to recover this old Japanese story, I was delighted and inspired to composing a couple of pieces based on his text.... Two of them, short pieces for solo guitar “Izanagi's voice” and “Izanami's tears”, will be performed at the book promotion by Yorgos Pervolarakis whilst David Czifer and Max Mayerhofer will read from the book.

Please come and listen: June 16th 2014 at 8p.m. Institute for Japanese Studies at Vienna University

Erich Fried „Izanagi und Izanami“, from the estate published by Christine Ivanovic,
IUDICIUM Verlag München 2014application/pdf icon Izanagi-und-Izanami.pdf

Who is Elser?
Photo:  Hitomi Uchikura

Who is Elser? It is amazing but Georg Elser seems to be almost completely unknown not only to strangers but also to Germans. Artist Ade Frey told me a lot of stories about Königsbronn, where she was grown up and which was also the home of Georg Elser. Now she is integrating his story in her art installation – and I am designated to become part of it, too.

Will I be able to act as Elser did? Would I have proved to act as brave? I am going to summon him with hammer and zither.

„Elser! Elser!“ for stone, hammer and zither

Juni 5th 2014, 7:30 p.m.
GEDOK-Galerie, Motzstr.59,
10777 Berlin-Schöneberg

Installation: Ade Frey, Performance: Mayako Kubo
Flyer: application/pdf icon Grenzen.pdf


Fukushima – The Suffering Sea

How can music express what happened in Fukushima? Music cannot consolidate the victims. But what can I do? A plethora of contaminated water is outpouring in the sea day by day. The ocean is polluted. The countryside is polluted.

I wrote “The Sea”, a piece commissioned by the ‘Landesmusikrat Berlin’, for the state youth ensemble ‘Neue Musik Berlin’. It is my way to express my anger and concern, even if music can never describe what has happened there. Music is just music.


It is a big challenge for the young musicians to create the complex rhythms and sounds. The vocalist has to surmount complicated changes of intervals. Even I had to sweat during the rehearsals. But the cooperation is wonderful.

2014 May 17th 8:00 pm
Concert House Berlin, Otto Werner Saal
„The Sea“ World Premiere
Landesjugendensemble Neue Musik Berlin
Conducter: Gerhard Scherer, Soprano: Karina Repova, Chorus: Neuer Chor Berlin

Clarinet Phobia
Photo: Tim Swinson
licensed under CC BY 2.0

The clarinet is an instrument I always tried to avoid. Why? Is it the sound? Or the playing technique? I’m more familiar with guitar, violin and flute. To fight this fear I lately created compositions for the clarinet. “Matsuri” is a piece created for the ‘Bärmann Clarinet Trio’. The debut performance will take place in July 19. in Frankfurt.

Furthermore “Memoria Perpetua V-b” will be performed by the ‘Carte Blanche Trio’ as premiere in May. This doesn’t mean that from now on I am able to encounter the clarinet without fear.

2014 May 23th 8:00 pm, Teminitzkirche in Netzband
Clarinet Festival Carte Blanche
"Memoria Perpetua V-B"  World Premiere
cl in es: Sabina Matthus-Bébié, cl. in b: Andrea Nagy, Bass cl.:Thea Nabicht

A strong woman with high sensitivity
Foto:  Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Since long time my piano piece „Berlin Diary“ is part of the repertoire of Agnes Krumwiede. I cannot say if I am a strong woman but I’m sure Agnes is.

With pliable pressure her gentle fingers are gliding across the keyboard. Listening to her cause us to forget that she is a politician as well.

2014 March 5th 7:30 pm
Dehnberger Hoftheater
Dehnberg 14, 91207 Dehnberg


2014 March 8th 7:30 pm
Concerthall of Musicschool Schweinfurt



Izanagis peregrination

After a fantastic concert in Vienna Izanagi went on the tramp to Salzburg without Izanami.

Yorgos Pervolarakis inspired the audience with his very intense performance of “Izanagis call”.
2014 March 10th 8:00 pm
University Mozarteum
Mirabellplatz 1, Salzburg

Intellectual eccentricity – whereto?
Sheet music: Verlag Neue Musik, NM 1263

CD: Kreuzbergrecords, kr 10112

The Trio Ku consists of three Japanese musicians, who all studied in Berlin. Now they are based in Hiroshima. “Wohin?” is written for trio Ku. Here is a short version of the report about the CD recording of “Wohin?” that made me happy:

"The watermill and the girl. Both are enticing. You want to possess them. Did the boy ask why? Our life is turning like a watermill; restless aspiration. Where does it lead to?"

"The Berlin based Japanese Composer created this extreme and passionate oeuvre on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. Kubo's music always has a starting point that is highly personal; she does not appreciate intellectual eccentricity. This can be sensed listening to this haunting piece. With the first notes it puts a spell on you that still pursues you for a long time after the abrupt end. The piece is based on Schubert’s “Wohin?” which passes through the measure in abstract alienation." 
Manuel Rösler, Ensemble 1-2014


Izanagi meets Izanami in Vienna
Photo: Markus Lackinger |

Finally Izanagi and Izanami get together again, in Vienna, where two pieces for guitar, Izanamis Tears and Izanagis Call will be performed. During his exile in London Erich Fried was fascinated by the mythical tale about the origin of Japan. Izanami and Izanagi who were sister and brother and simultaneously man and wife stepped down from heaven over a hovering bridge and created in loving embraces all the islands and gods of Japan. When she gave at last birth to the god of fire Izanami had to die. In desperate sadness Izanagi enters the underworld to get his wife and sister back...

Yorgos Pervolarakis, a member of Miscelanea Quartett, will perform both pieces.

2014 February 20th, 07:00 pm
Theatermuseum Vienna
Lobkowitzplatz 2, 1010 Wien

Dear Artist, please draw for me!
- Kippenberg/Semjon -

If someone asks me: “Can a sheet of music be considered a drawing?” I say: No! Music is always music, whether it sounds in a room or in the head. 

Two sheets of my music for Cage will be exhibited at the Gallery Semjon.

I would be glad, if the visitors can discern a -major, -minor,
-major und -major while viewing them. 

The Gallery will be transformed into a magical place with over 60 drawings and sheets of music swinging and floating, as if in an aquarium.

Vernissage:  2014 Feb. 1st, 7:00 pm, Gallery Semjon
Schröderstr. 1, 10115 Berlin
Exhibition: 2014 Feb. 1st to March 8th
Flyer: application/pdf iconLK_Einladung.pdf

Sounds of Berliner Wall
Photo: Sandra Setzkorn

With the composers of Atonale we are going to present our music in the Werkstatt of Staatsoper Berlin. My piece, „Mauerfragmente“ – Fragments of The Wall – composed in 1994, will be performed.

There isn’t much left of the wall after more than 20 years. But this music contains many sounds of walls and I hope the sounds remain forever. The performance will be wonderful. The Modern Art Sextett did the first performance of „Mauerfragmente“ 20 years ago!

What is Atonale e. V.?
12 Composers living in Berlin are cooperating since 2009. All of us are participating intensely in the activities of the New Music scene. The concert shows how we are thinking and composing and at the same time it is an inheritance of the music history of the 20th and 21st century.

2014 January 10th, 8:00 pm 
Werkstatt of Staatsoper Berlin
Bismarckstr. 110, Berlin 10625
Modern Art Ensemble with Christine Paté and Franka Herweg
Tickets: 15 / 10 Euro 
Flyer: application/pdf iconFlyer-Atonale.pdf

YACOB in the season of blizzards

In the Christmas season we usually listen to the music of Haendel, Bach and songs like Jingle Bells. What’s about alternatives? When we have time for Family and friends, we also can take time for recognition what we are and what happened to us. 

YACOB will perform Kaddesh 1944, composed by Evelina Nowicka. The letter of her grandma, writing on the wagon to Auschwitz, inspired her. My Sanriku Songs are written for the victims of the 2011-Tsunami.  Simple Symphonie by Benjamin Britten to celebrate his 100th Birthday. Recently I arranged some Christmas Songs for YACOB.

Let´s sing together!

2013 Dec. 20th 19:30, JDZB Japanisch- Deutsches Zentrum
Saargemünderstr. 2, 14195 Berlin (U3 Osker-Helene-Heim)
Yosuke Funabashi, Conducter,Sun Yung Hwang, Violin,   Sara Gouzy, Soprano

Flyer: YACOB_Einladung.pdf



The four letters C-A-G-E are horizontally and vertically sounding together in a chord. In so doing my birthday present for Cage arose. It is really exciting to listen the music by 125 composers from all over the world coming together.

2013 Oct. 17th 20:00, New York Miller Theatre New York
Cage 100 Festival Party Pieces by 125 composers
Richard Carrick and Ensemble Either/Or

Easy rule is not always easy!

For a long time I have worked together with Eiko Morikawa. She sang the title role Masago of „Rashomon“ at Tokyo-Premiére. We got a triumphal success.
In November Eiko will sing „Das leichte Gesetz“ – a easy rule – with an accompaniment by Axel Bauni in Toyko.

November 5th 2013, 19:00
Goethe Institut Toyko

Goethe Institut Toyko



Five Japanese Folkdances in Neukölln

My composition for piano named "Five Japanese Folkdances" for four hands was performed with great success last May. So the pupils of the Paul Hindemith Music School will present the dances to my music.

Marieke Ruegert will choreograph the dances. She has also directed the stage of „Spinnfaden“. The young dancers will partly put kimonos on. On stage the piano will be played by Wolfgang Panwitz and me.

Gutshof Schloss Britz Kulturstall
2013 September 15th, at 11 a.m.



The radio broadcast "Foreign Composers looking for Freedom”

2013 September 2th at 22:05:

Kristin Amme has moderated the interviews with four composers on the radio station BR4 Klassik, Horizonte.. She was asking for their intentions to write new music in Germany.

People want to know why I am staying in Germany. I said: "Germany is a country for artists and New Music." Two pieces were on air: “Fremde Nähe II” and “Meeresstille” from “Sanriku-Lieder”.
  German article on Website of BR

Repeating Illusions

How many times am I lucky in my life? : very few.
How many times do I make the same mistakes in my life? : very often.
I am trying to never make the same mistake twice. But this is an illusion.
Are there some repeating illusions? Or am I repeating illusions?
Or I have an illusion, as if something is repeated.

This is the concept behind the piece „Repeating Illusions“ for Violoncello and Piano. Maybe this piece is a repetition of my already existing compositions. Or maybe the illusion of a new piece? The world première of  "Repeating Illusions" by Mayako Kubo:

August 25, 2013 at 5 p.m.  at the
Mendelssohn Remise
Jägerstr. 51, Berlin.

Interpreted by Ehrengard von Gemmingen (violoncello) and Yuko Tomeda (piano).

Flyer: application/pdf iconsonntagsmusik_GEDOK.pdf

Four Women Poets and Four Colors of May

Four women wrote poetries about May. How different their expressons are! There are many Mays, so each Song shows different colors of May.

„In den See des Vergessens“ by Ulrike Prasse
„Das leichte Gesetz“ by Marina Zwetajewa
„Einen wunderschoenen Fruehling wuensche ich Ihnen!“ by Caroline Pinger
„Der Fuchs und das Maedchen“ by Synke Koehler.

July 2nd. 2013, 19:30
Schwartzsche Villa

Grunewaldstraße 55
12165 Berlin-Steglitz.

Martin Schneuing accompanies the phenomenal french singer Sara Gouzy on the piano.

The radio broadcast "Atelier new Music" will air
interview and music 

June 29th 2013 at 22:05

Irene Constantin will approach my way of working under the motto "Opera, the supreme discipline" on the radio station Deutschlandfunk.



Life is full of abruptness. While working on compositions many unexpected things happen. Sometimes I have no idea how to manage them. But there are rare moments as well when it’s possible to enjoy these unexpected incidents.

The skilful piano duet „The Lontano“, Noritaka Ito and Nozomu Takahashi, will perform „Oh du Plötzlicher!“.

On June 23rd  2013 in Shoennji, Onomichi and on June 29th 2013 in the Yanaka-Music-Hall in Tokyo. Mr. Takuo Ikeda will give guidance for the concert.

Autumn Woman in May

Autumn Woman will be performed on May 26th 17:00 at the St. Annen church in Berlin Zepernick.

The duet of the Ensemble Socell 21, Irene Kurka, soprano, and Burkart Zeller, Cello is a highly talented and inspiring performance.
Three poems in Autumn Woman are written by Ulrike Prasse and one poem, as a Japanese Tanka, is written by Meiko Matsudaira.

The four poems are reflecting the state of mind of a woman in four seasons.

New piano piece for four hands

Together with Wolfgang Panwitz I will perform my new composition for piano named Five Japanese Folkdances for four hands: 

Genezareth Church, Herrfurthplatz 14, 12049 Berlin
2013 May 5th, at 5 p.m.

Wolfgang Panwitz is a famous piano teacher. The rehearsal with him is quite strictly, but funny. This caricature shows his piano playing.





My first d- minor music

This is my first adventure writing music in d minor.

Shoji Nakagawa will perform my Green Chaconne on his preciously baroque lute:

 18th of May, 2013 in Nagoya.

In this music you can listen to the colour mixing of green. On the one hand the woods around Ise-Schrein and on the other the song of Schubert „With the green belt of lute“.

Website of Shoji Nakagawa:





Curiosity is spirit of experimental music - talented children in
Berlin Kreuzberg

Children of the Jens-Nydahl Primary School and three students of the Berlin University of the Arts are working with me on an experimental composition. The Children are very interested and full of curiosity.

The performance will take place in a concert of QuerKlang ­- Nachhall :

Exploratorium, Mehringdamm 55, 10961 Berlin-Kreuzberg
29th of April 2013, 6:00 p.m.

Flyer download: application/pdf iconflyer-nachhall.pdf

New CD by Miscelanea Guitar Quartet

Atem Pause is released in the second edition: ARSIS 4235

Miscelanea Guitar Quartet is playing Atem Pause all over the world and it is a big success in every concert. Please enjoy the performance by you tube:

Workshop Discussion in Berlin – Title / Text / Tone

"The Listener become aware about those things he has not considered or heard before." nmz

There was an interesting discussion in Berlin. I talked about my composition with Dr. Adelheid Krause-Pichler. The music magazin "Neue Musikzeitschrift" reported about it.

Article (german)

New CD

My trio Wohin? (Where to?) for violin, guitar and piano has been played again in Japan by ensemble KU. It was inspired by the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and was premiered there.




This exciting ensemble has recently recorded the piece for the label Kreuzberg Records, together with works of Gabriel Irany, Daisuke Terauchi and Helmut Zapf. The CD (kr 10112) will go on sale this winter; the score has been published by Verlag Neue Musik. We celebrated the release party at GG Salon in Tokyo on December 19.

Thereafter, a solo album of Gaku Yamada playing my pieces for guitar is being planned. In January 2013, he performed my work Schiffbruch (Wreckage) in the wonderful Suginami Hall with its marvellous acoustics.



Audio example „Wohin“

interpreted by ensemble KU

Choir Concert
The Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus has commissioned and premiered an a cappella composition: Kami-ichi-mai (A piece of paper in my hand) was performed in Osaka on September 14, 2012 (and repeated in Tokyo on October 12). The text is based on five Tankas by Meiko Matsudaira. I already adapted some of her poems in my Sanriku Songs (see below). As the conductor told me promptly during the intermission on skype, the concert has been highly successful ...

Anniversary year
One of my latest work is Three Solfeggios for F. d. G., a piece for soprano solo. The Bundesmusikakademie Rheinsberg commissioned it for the tricentennial of Frederic the Great’s birthday. The premiere performance took place in the Rheinsberg castle. It had to be repeated three times ...

The solfeggios came up again in September in Schloss Liebenberg.













East-Western Divan
The 25 members of YACOB, the Young Asian Chamber Orchestra Berlin, come from Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan. As one of their founders, I was happy to attend their latest performance: In June 2012, they played in Berlin-Neukoelln, celebrating the annivery of bohemian immigration. The next concerts in Berlin are scheduled for June 28, 29 and 30, 2013.
The Sanriku Songs were premiered in Berlin in 2011. These three pieces for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra are based on a poetry cycle of Japanese writer Meiko Matsudaira. She wrote them while still under shock of the earthquake catastrophe in Japan. They will be performed again on the occasion of the anniversary of the earthquake in March 2013 in the theatres of Kiel and Luebeck.


A piano piece of mine, inspired by the same poems, was premiered in May 2011.  Nachbeben (Aftershock) was commissioned by German pianist and cultural politician Agnes Krumwiede. In March, Noritaka Ito received standing ovations for it in Cambridge, Massachussetts. He presented it again in Japan on November 16, 2012 in the Kanasawa Art Hall.

Below, you can listen to excerpts from Nachbeben, played by myself.