34. Reiko Fueting: The Art & Philosophy of Composition / Reiko’s Story

Questions on Reiko’s Mind:

What is “contemporary” art, or what is “contemporary” in art?


I believe in the responsibility of the artist.  This responsibility needs to result in art that is relevant.  Relevant art consciously deals with the specifics of our time, our natural and social (political) environments.  That, however, creates a challenge: the challenge to balance the autonomy of the art work (and the artist) with the artist’s responsibility toward society.  But I see a dynamism in the challenge that carries much potential.

Reiko Fueting

Reiko takes us through his story as a composer, his journey to where he is today, what his creative process is like, the meaning behind music, his thoughts on time and philosophy as they relate to composition, how the lay person should look at music, the challenges in teaching music and advice to those who wish to become composers themselves.

Reiko Fueting
Reiko Fueting

Reiko is a composer and composition instructor at the Manhattan School of music. He maintains the position of Department Chair for Theory & Skills.

Music featured in the interview:

Heard in the Intro – Weg, Lied der Schwäne

Komposition für Ensemble (2015) [Fl, Cl, Pc, Pn, Vln, Vla, Vc] 

Recording Engineer: Frerik de Jong (7Mountain Records)


Oerknal Ensemble:Conductor, Gregory Charette Flutes, Susanne Peters Clarinets, Daniel Boeke Piano, Daniel Walden Percussion, Christian Smith Violin, Mariana Hutchinson Siemers Viola, Lidwine Dam Cello, Steuart Pincombe

Program Note:
Weg, Lied der Schwäne [Journey, Song of the Swans], for ensemble (2015), was commissioned by the Oerknal! Ensemble, to whom it is dedicated in gratitude. The composition was mainly written during a residency at the Civitella Ranieri castle in Umbria, Italy. The original material is based on a madrigal by Jakob Arcadelt, Il bianco a dolce cigno, which appears shadow-like at the end of the composition. The spoken words toward the end of the main section are taken from the title of the 2014 German film, Hin und Weg.

Heard in the Outro – Passage: time (copy)

Komposition 2 für Geige allein (2019) [Vn]

Violin: Miranda Cuckson (www.mirandacuckson.com) Composition: Reiko Füting (www.reikofueting.com) Audio: Ryan Streber (Oktaven Audio www.oktavenaudio.com)

Program Note:
passage: time (copy), for solo violin (2019), was commissioned by violinist Miranda Cuckson, to whom it is dedicated in admiration, gratitude, and friendship. The composition is based on quotations from Heinrich Franz Ignaz Biber, August Kühnel, Johann Paul von Westhoff, Johann Georg Pisendel, and Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as self-quotations. passage refers to Passacaglia (specifically the passacaglia by Biber, which is the 16th sonata of the “mystery sonatas” and generally considered to be a forerunner of Bach’s Chaconne); copy refers to a quote by composer Johannes Kreidler: “Composing for violin means to copy.”

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