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Max Richter (born 22 March 1966), is a German-born British composer who has spearheaded a renewed interest in neo-classical (post-minimalist music) composition and the convergence of contemporary classical and alternative popular musical styles since the early 2000s.[1][2][3] Richter is classically trained, having graduated in composition from the Royal Academy of Music and studied with Luciano Berio in Italy,[4] but he is influenced equally by punk and popular forms of electronic music.[5]

Richter is known for his prolific output,[6][7] composing and recording his own music; writing for stage, opera, ballet and screen; producing and collaborating on the records of others; and collaborating with performance, installation and media artists. He has recorded at least five solo albums and his music is widely used in cinema.

Early careerEdit

Richter grew up in the United Kingdom in the county town of Bedford where he was educated at Bedford Modern School.[8] After school he studied composition and piano at the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Academy of Music, and with Luciano Berio in Florence.[9][10] After finishing his studies, Richter co-founded the contemporary classical ensemble Piano Circus.[11] He stayed with the group for ten years, commissioning and performing works by minimalist musicians such as Arvo PärtBrian EnoPhilip GlassJulia Wolfe, and Steve Reich. The ensemble was signed toDecca/Argo, producing five albums.

In 1996, Richter collaborated with Future Sound of London on their album Dead Cities, beginning as a pianist, but ultimately working on several tracks, as well as co-writing one track (titled Max). Richter subsequently worked with the band over a period of two years, also contributing to the albums The Isness and The Peppermint Tree and Seeds of Superconsciousness. In 2000, Richter worked with Mercury Prize winner Roni Size on the Reprazent album In the Møde. Richter produced Vashti Bunyan's 2005 album Lookaftering[12] and Kelli Ali's 2008 album Rocking Horse.[13]

Solo workEdit

Memoryhouse (2002)Edit

In 2002, Richter released his solo debut Memoryhouse, an experimental album of "documentary music" recorded with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, which explores real and imaginary stories and histories.[14] It combines ambient sounds, voices, and poetry readings and includes the tracks "Sarajevo", "November" and "Last Days". BBC Music described the album as "a masterpiece in neoclassical composition."[15Memoryhouse was first played live by Richter at the Barbican Centre on 24 January 2014 to coincide with a vinyl re-release of the album. Pitchfork gave the re-release an 8.7 rating, commenting on its extensive influence "In 2002, Richter’s ability to weave subtle electronics against the grand BBC Philharmonic Orchestra helped suggest new possibilities and locate fresh audiences that composers such asNico Muhly and Michał Jacaszek have since pursued. As you listen to new work by Julianna Barwick or Jóhann Jóhannson, thank Richter; just as Sigur Rós did with its widescreen rock, Richter showed that crossover wasn't necessarily an artistic curse".[16]

The Blue Notebooks (2004)Edit

On his second album The Blue Notebooks, released in 2004, actress Tilda Swinton reads from Kafka's Blue Octavo and other shadow journals.[17] Pitchfork described the album as "Not only the finest record of the last six months, but one of the most affecting and universal contemporary classical records in recent memory."[18] To mark the 10th anniversary of its release, Richter created a track by track commentary for Drowned in Sound, in which he described the album as a series of interconnected dreams and an exploration of the chasm between lived experience and imagination.[19]

Songs from Before (2006)Edit

In 2006, he released his third solo album, Songs from Before, which features Robert Wyatt reading texts by Haruki Murakami.[20]

24 Postcards in Full Colour (2008)Edit

Richter released his fourth solo album 24 Postcards in Full Colour, a collection of 24 classically-composed miniatures for ringtones, in 2008.[21] The pieces are a series of variations on the basic material, scored for strings, piano, and electronics.

Infra (2010)Edit

Richter's 2010 album, Infra, is an extension of his 25-minute score for a ballet choreographed by Wayne McGregor and staged at the Royal Opera House.[22Infra is composed of music written for piano, electronics and string quintet, the full performance score, as well as material that subsequently developed from the construction of the album.[23] Pitchfork described the album as "achingly gorgeous"[24] and The Independent newspaper characterised Infra as "a journey in 13 episodes, emerging from a blur of static and finding its way in a repeated phrase that grows in loveliness."[25]

Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (2012)Edit

Richter’s recomposed version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons was premiered in the UK at the Barbican Centre on 31 October 2012, performed by the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by André de Ridder and with violinist Daniel Hope.[26] Although Richter said that he had discarded 75% of Vivaldi's original material,[27] the parts he does use are phased and looped, emphasising his grounding in postmodern and minimalist music.[28] The album topped the iTunes classical chart in the UK, Germany and the US.[29] The US launch concert in New York at Le Poisson Rouge was recorded by NPR and streamed.

Film and television workEdit

Richter has composed numerous film soundtracks. He executed the score to Ari Folman's Golden Globe-winning film Waltz with Bashir in 2007,[30] supplanting the standard orchestral soundtrack with synth-based sounds. Max Richter also composed music for the independent feature film Henry May Long, starring Randy Sharpand Brian Barnhart, in 2008. Richter wrote the music for Feo Aladag's film Die Fremde (with additional music by Stéphane Moucha).[31]

In 2010 Dinah Washington's This Bitter Earth was remixed with Richter's On the Nature of Daylight for the Martin Scorsese film Shutter Island.[32] In July 2010, On the Nature of Daylight and Vladimir's Blues featured throughout the BBC Two two-part drama Dive, which was co-written by BAFTA-winning Dominic Savage and Simon Stevens. On the Nature of Daylight was also featured in an episode of HBO's television series Luck.[33] Four tracks—"Europe, After the Rain", "The Twins (Prague)", "Fragment", and "Embers"—were used in the six-part 2005 BBC documentary Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution produced by Laurence Rees.[34] Richter also wrote the soundtrack to Peter Richardson's documentary, How to Die in Oregon,[35] and the score to Impardonnables (2011) directed by André Téchiné.[36]

An excerpt of the song Sarajevo from his 2002 album Memoryhouse was used in the international trailer for the Ridley Scott film Prometheus. The same track was also later used in the teaser trailer for the 2014 film Need for Speed. The track, November, from the same album, was featured in the international trailer for Terrence Malick's 2012 film, To the Wonder, and in the trailer for Clint Eastwood's 2011 film, J. Edgar. Films featuring Max's music released in 2011 include French drama Elle s'appelait Sarah by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, and David MacKenzie's romantic thriller Perfect Sense. In 2012 he composed the scores for Cate Shortland's 2012 Australian-German war thriller Lore and Disconnect, directed by Henry Alex Rubin. Richter latest project is the score to Ari Folman's new film The Congress, which was released in 2013.

Richter is also the composer of the original soundtrack for the HBO series The Leftovers created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, which was premiered in June 2014. Some of the compositions are included in the album The Blue Notebooks.[37]

Ballet, Opera and Stage WorksEdit

Richter wrote the score to Infra as part of a Royal Ballet-commissioned collaboration with dancer Wayne McGregor and artist Julian Opie. The production was staged at the Royal Opera House in London in 2008. In 2011, Richter composed a chamber opera based on neuroscientist David Eagleman's book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives. The opera was choreographed by Wayne McGregor and premiered at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre in 2012. The piece received positive reviews, with London's Evening Standard saying "[it] fits together rather beautifully".[38] Their collaboration continued in April 2014 with Wayne McGregor's 'Kairos'; a ballet set to Richter's recomposition of the Four Seasons and part of a collaborative program involving three different choreographers titled 'Notations' with Ballett Zürich.[39] In April 2014 it was also announced that Richter and McGregor will collaborate again together on a new full-length ballet for summer 2015, as part of the 2014–15 Royal Opera House season.[40] In 2012/13, Richter contributed music to The National Theatre of Scotland's production of Macbeth, starring Alan Cumming. The play opened at New York's Lincoln Centre and subsequently moved to Broadway.[41] The company had previously used Richter's 'Last Days' in their acclaimed production of Black Watch.

Other CollaborationsEdit

In 2010, Richter's soundscape The Anthropocine formed part of Darren Almond's film installation at the White Cube gallery in London. The composer has also collaborated with digital art collective Random International on two projects, contributing scores to the installations Future Self (2012),[42] staged at the MADE space in Berlin, and Rain Room (2012/13) at London's Barbican Centre[43] and MOMA, New York.[44]

Solo discographyEdit

Film scoresEdit

Film Year Director Notes
Gender Trouble 2003 Roz Mortimer
Geheime Geschichten 2003 Christine Wiegand
Soundproof 2006 Edmund Coulthard
Work 2006 Jim Hosking
Butterfly 2007 Tracey Gardiner
Nadzieja 2007 Stanislaw Mucha
Frankie Howerd: Rather You Than Me 2008 John Alexander
Henry May Long 2008 Randy Sharp
Waltz with Bashir

(Vals Im Bashir)

2008 Ari Folman Won "Best Composer" at the 21st Annual European Awards
Lost and Found 2008 Philip Hunt
Penelope

(Penelopa)

2009 Ben Ferris
La vie sauvage des animaux domestiques

(Die wilde Farm)

2009 Dominique Garing & Frédéric Goupil
The First Line

(La prima linea)

2009 Renato De Maria
My Words, My Lies – My Love

(Lila, Lila)

2009 Alain Gsponer
When We Leave

(Die Fremde)

2010 Feo Aladağ With Stéphane Moucha
My Trip to Al-Qaeda 2010 Alex Gibney
Womb 2010 Benedek Fliegauf
Sarah's Key

(Elle s'appelait Sarah)

2010 Gilles Paquet-Brenner
The Gift 2010 Andrew Griffin With Hildur Guðnadóttir
How to Die in Oregon 2010 Peter D. Richardson
Perfect Sense 2011 David Mackenzie
Impardonnables 2011 André Téchiné
Nach der Stille 2011 Stephanie Bürger, Jule Ott

& Manal Abdallah

With Sven Kaiser
Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster 2011 Nathan Morlando
Spanien 2012 Anja Salomonowitz
Lore 2012 Cate Shortland
Jiro Dreams of Sushi 2011 David Gelb With Jiro Ono
The Patience Stone/Syngue Sabour 2011 Atiq Rahimi
Miserere 2012 Sylvain White
Disconnect 2012 Henry-Alex Rubin
La Religieuse 2013 Guillaume Nicloux
Wadjda 2013 Haifaa Al-Mansour
The Congress 2013 Ari Folman
The Lunchbox 2013 Ritesh Batra
The Last Days on Mars 2013 Ruairí Robinson
The Leftovers (TV series) 2014 Damon LindelofTom Perrotta (showrunners)
Testament of Youth 2015 James Kent

Awards and nominationsEdit

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