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Helmuth Rilling (b1933)

As a student Helmuth Rilling was initially drawn to music that fell outside the then normal performance repertoire. He dug out old works by Lechner, Schütz and others for his musical gatherings with friends in a little Swabian mountain village called Gächingen, where they sang and played together from 1954 on. He soon became enthusiastic about Romantic music too, despite the risk of violating the taboos which applied to this area in the 1950s. But it was above all the output of contemporary composers that interested Rilling and his “Gächinger Kantorei”; they soon developed a wide repertoire which they subsequently performed in public. An immense number of the first performances of those years were put on by this passionate musician and his young, hungry ensemble. Even today, Rilling’s repertoire extends from Monteverdi’s Vespers to modern works. He was also responsible for many commissions, including Arvo Pärt’s Litany, Edison Denisov’s completion of Schubert’s Lazarus fragments and, in 1995, the Requiem of Reconciliation, an international collaboration between 14 composers. On 21 March 1985, JS Bach’s 300th birthday, Rilling completed a project which is still unparalleled in the history of recorded music: a complete recording of all Bach’s church cantatas. This achievement was immediately recognised by the award of the “Grand prix du disque”, and for the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death in the year 2000 the



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