Syncosradio Africa

From the blog


Composer Peter Klatzow chosen for 2015 JIMF

Cape Town-based composer Peter Klatzow is the Composer-in-Residence for the 2015 Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF) from 27 January to 8 February. Each year a South African composer is commissioned by JIMF to create a new piece of work for premiere at the Festival. Adding to this, the composer gives their expertise to the programme and world-renowned Peter Klatzow is JIMF’s 2015 choice

Klatzow studied composition at the Royal College of Music in London, under the guidance of Bernard Stevens; piano with Kathleen Long; and orchestration with Gordon Jacob. Winning a number of awards at the College, as well as the esteemed Royal Philharmonic Award for Composition, he went on to study with Nadia Boulanger in Italy and France.

From there, Klatzow returned to South Africa to work as a music producer for the SABC before being appointed Director of the College of Music and Professor in Composition at the University of Cape Town.

Apart from winning numerous awards, both locally and abroad, Klatzow’s achievements extend to composing works for Hamlet, a full length ballet, scores for Drie Diere and Vier Gebede, both ballets, as well as concertos for various instruments including the piano, clarinet, organ, marimba, and a double concerto for flute and marimba which was performed for Yale University in America.

His musical ability extends to the visual art world where he was commissioned to write The World of Paul Klee (III), composed for the opening of the new Paul Klee Centre in Berne, Switzerland. Klatzow also composed music for Towards the Light – a work for double choir, marimba and organ commissioned for the opening of the new Peabody Concert Hall in America.

Locally, Klatzow was enlisted to compose works for a celebratory Te Deum for choir, organ and orchestra which were commissioned for a special service celebrating the 100th anniversary of St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. He composed a short opera for The University of Cape Town for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the South African College of Music (SACM) and went on to work with the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO). Klatzow composed a setting of Thabo Mbeki’s speech “I am an African” to use in the International Vocal Scholarship Competition in September 2011. That same year he attended a major festival of his marimba works in Tokyo, where he also lectured and gave masterclasses at the Tokyo Music School.

His discography includes an impressive variety of recordings such as piano music, and works for marimba and strings to name a few. Klatzow also recorded a CD of his choral music entitled Towards the Light – the choral music of Peter Klatzow. His Marimba Concerto has been reissued in a new recording made by Markus Leoson and was published by the Swedish label NOSAG in 2006, further, releasing Myths, Magic and Marimbas – the music of Peter Klatzow in the same year.

In 2011 the South African Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns awarded him the Huberte Rupert Music Prize for his lifetime work. Klatzow attended a major international event, Peter Klatzow in the City, which was held in Rotterdam for one week and featured his music for marimba. There were three performances of his concerto for flute, marimba and strings with Tatiana Koleva and Eleonore Palmeijr and they premiered his new work Night Sky with Illuminations – commissioned by the Eduard von Beinum Foundation in Rotterdam.

“To compose music is to isolate yourself completely and to immerse yourself in a sea of imagined sounds. It is a solitary process in which the composer (usually with great difficulty) extracts from his/her imagination a structure which has not only beauty, but a pleasing form, thematic integrity and technical skill. If any of these are missing the work is structurally deficient. But in the making of this new work the composer must also take into account the role that the performer has to play. A work which fails to integrate the performers’ contribution will never find its mark with receptive audiences,” says Klatzow when reflecting on his career as a prolific composer.

Being a Professor Emeritus at the University of Cape Town Klatzow was recently awarded the Helgaard Steyn prize for his work Lightscapes which was commissioned for The World Marimba Festival in Stuttgart in 2012.

“Peter Klatzow is not only one of the most eminent composers South Africa has produced, but the JIMF 2015 will also see him in his role as educator. As a Professor of Composition at the University of Cape Town he has trained generations of young South African composition talents and he is assuming this role once again as part of a collaboration with the Goethe Institut.” says Florian Uhlig, Artistic Director of the Festival.

In 2015 audiences can look forward to performances by the legendary flautist Sir James Galway who will appear as soloist with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra and two appearances by the distinguished pianist Melvyn Tan, among a wide range of artists as well as diverse performances, masterclasses and workshops presented by both local and international musicians.

Other highlights for the 2015 programme include the vocal scholarship scheme with the Musikhochschule Cologne in Germany; a choral workshop with Prof. Ekkehard Klemm- internationally renowned conductor, choir director and principal of the Musikhochschule Dresden; and the annual collaboration with the Goethe Institut in Johannesburg, this year featuring an interdisciplinary collaboration between photographer Lebohang Kganye and three young composers, coached by Peter Klatzow, who will produce newly commissioned works.

The annual ‘Orchestra from Scratch’ encourages music aficionados to take part in the JIMF 2015 programme. Open to anyone who can play a musical instrument (minimum of Grade 3); participation should be arranged through contacting the JIMF office on (011) 447 9264.

Full details of the programme for the 7th Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF) are available on the Festival’s website. Please contact 011 447 9264 or visit for more information, and “like” the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival page on Facebook for regular updates on Festival happenings.