Michael Rosenzweig is a South African born composer, conductor and guitarist. His participation in South African student politics in the 1970s compelled him to leave the country. He pursued his musical education in the United Kingdom and the USA and has lived in the UK since 1979.
His compositions have been internationally praised and widely recognised as of exceptional magnitude garnering several major and International awards including the prestigious DAAD Berliner Kunstlerprogramm Award in 1990. Most recently, his 1989 composition "String Quartet 2", recorded by the Arditti Quartet in June 1995, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in early 2009.
He was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Vidin Philharmonic in 2008.
Michael has established himself over thirty years as a composer of note having won many major prizes and awards, the highest being the DAAD Berliner Kunstler Fellowship in 1990, an award given to composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Roger Sessions, Elliott Carter, Krzysztof Penderecki, Luigi Dallapiccola, Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, Alberto Ginastera and others. He has over twenty successfully performed works, nineteen commissions and four that have won important awards.
Commissioners include the London Sinfonietta, the Arditti Quartet, Divertimenti String Orchestra and BBC Radio 3. Performers include the RLPO, Arditti Quartet, London Sinfonietta and State Philharmonic of Iasi.
While in Berlin, he was the Assistant Musical Director at the Berliner Konzert-chor and the Musical Director of theYouth choir, whose Philharmonie debut he conducted. Here he conducted the Blacher Ensemble, the new music ensemble from the Berlin Hochschule der Kunste in their international venue debut, as well as other orchestras and ensembles in major venues and festivals, performing both standard repertoire and contemporary music, including several premieres.
Besides the DAAD Fellowship, his awards for composition include the GLA Young Composer of the Year twice, coming first and second the first time a Gaudeamus selection and the Vaughan Williams Trust Orchestral Competition, a one - time event designed to address the repeated overturnings of SPNM selections of his Symphony in One Movement.
In the UK he has conducted the English Chamber Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia featuring Gervase de Peyer as soloist, London Strings (at St James’s Piccadilly) with Yonty Solomon, and Buckingham and District Music Society as well as performances of contemporary works by several composers.
In Central and Eastern Europe he has conducted the Moravian Philharmonic, the Slovak State Philharmonic, Philharmonia Sudecka in Walbrzych, Poland, the State Philharmonic of Iasi and Vidin State Philharmonic among others. He has also conducted the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra. Included have been performances, premieres and recordings of a wide range of both standard repertoire and contemporary music.
He conducted the European premiere of Gervase de Peyer’s new realization of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and has also worked with Neil Black, Yonty Solomon and Borislava Taneva as soloist.
Recent concerts have included Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Brahms’ Symphonies No. 1 and 2, Dvorak’s Symphonies No. 4, 8 and 9, his Legends, American Suite, Czech Suite and Slavonic Rhapsody 1, Beethoven Symphonies No.2, 3, 4, 6 and 7, Schubert’s Symphonies No. 5 and 8, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 and Mozart’s Symphonies No. 40 and 41. Concertos accompanied include the European premiere of Gervase de Peyer’s new realization of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, Saint Saens Violin Concerto 3, Beethoven Violin Concerto, Schumann Piano Concerto, Schubert/Liszt Wanderer Fantasy and several Mozart and Bach concertos. Name soloists he has accompanied include Gervase de Peyer, Neil Black, Yonty Solomon and Borislava Taneva.
He also has a niche in Bulgaria conducting for young soloists making concerto debuts.
Michael Rosenzweig’s first concert conducting the Vidin State Philharmonic Orchestra was in September 2003. He has conducted over 100 concerts of varied repertoire with them, including premieres. He was also invited to conduct their 2006 and 2015 Christmas concerts. He has conducted for events in front of the Bulgarian President and other dignitaries. He was named Principal Guest Conductor by them in June 2008.
He also plays jazz, pop and world music and for several years played in Dr Imdad Husain's ensemble performing Pakistani folk music fused with Western idioms playing in several concerts for the Third World Solidarity Organization and in London Festivals. He conducted the orchestra for Dr Husain’s Double Concerto for Violin and Oboe written in Dr Husain’s fusion style. The soloists were Dr Husain and oboist Neil Black. He has also been part of accompanying ensemble for visits by international Pakistani singer Rajab Ali. He was a regular playing member at Nigel Kennedy's parties and has played with him at the South Bank. He is also featured and credited on an Alabama 3 (theme tune for The Sopranos) CD.
After a hiatus of more than 30 years Rosenzweig was active regularly as a Jazz musician from 2007 to 2010 and played with many noted players.
What They Say
"I would like to recommend to you my colleague, Michael Rosenzweig as fine musician both as composer and conductor. He deserves to have a distinguished career. I have listened to the string quartet by Michael Rosenzweig played by the Arditti Quartet. I have also heard it while studying the score. During a playing career of some fifty years I must conclude that this is a composition of major interest which thoroughly deserves to be heard and played."
- EMANUEL HURWITZ, Leader Aeolian String Quartet, Philharmonia Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra.
"I must say I find them (your compositions) wholly admirable…which contained so many of your orchestral compositions and I certainly found them extremely striking in their concept with also a vivid sense of tone colours with their beautiful contrasting and mixing. You are obviously a man of huge talent"
- SIR CHARLES MACKERRAS, International Conductor
"He is a very good musician and conductor and works very precisely with the orchestra. For this reason the artistic level of the orchestra has improved greatly and continues to improve."
- MIROSLAV KRASTEV, Director Vidin State Philharmonic Orchestra
"Very good! Bravo! Your composing is impressive and so is your conducting. Convincing is the word. The Arditti Quartet plays beautifully – both quartets are good early Rosenzweig."
- LUKAS FOSS, International composer, conductor, organist, pianist
"You have a fertile musical imagination and knowledge of the instrumental side of things that is quite special. You have also found your own way through the 12 – tone thicket
your fine talent to compose… talent that is long standing and developed"
- JACK BEESON, Composer, Professor Emeritus Columbia University (& student of Bartok)
"A talent of a major order…one of the most substantial composers of his generation at work anywhere today. What impressed (and impresses me most about Michael Rosenzweig’s work when I read it, is its technical competence and assurance in instrumental conception; when I first heard it, these considerations went out the window with an awareness of its genuinely involving expressive qualities – again something very rare in music of such elegant complexity on the page. Most composers have to wait many years before achieving the balance between form and content, technique and expression which Rosenzweig seems to have commanded from virtually the start of his career."
- OLIVER KNUSSEN, Composer, Conductor, Conductor Laureate London Sinfonietta.
"I feel that Michael's music is blazingly honest, strongly crafted music with a powerful intellectual rigour: the world is the richer for having it!
I have known Michael Rosenzweig for some twenty-nine years. In that time I have become increasingly impressed by his complimentary talents as a composer and conductor. The power of the emotion in his music and the elegance of the structures which convey it speak for themselves. I believe that his control of colour, nuance and architecture as a composer also informs everything that he does as a conductor.
He is therefore a conductor with an unusual gift for getting the most out of the music."
- DAVID ALBERMAN, Violinist - Arditti Quartet, Leader 2nd Violin - London Symphony Orchestra
"I have this summer played four concerts with Michael Rosenzweig conducting. He is an outstanding musician, a very skilful and sensitive conductor, as well as a fine composer of unusual excellence and creativity. He is dedicated and dynamic, and he has much to say of importance musically."
- YONTY SOLOMON, International Piano soloist, Professor Royal College of Music