Konrad Boehmer is silent.
Konrad Boehmer is silent
Konrad Boehmer was truly one of the most obnoxious persons I ever met.
And this is why I loved him.
In German we have this saying that somebody doesn’t take a “leaf in front of their mouth”, which basically means they always say what they think, regardless of the circumstances.
Konrad’s mouth couldn’t be held by a leaf, and would have conquered a forest, if need be. I remember mutual panel meetings with Konrad where everybody looked at each other in pain because he just wouldn’t stop talking about some inopportune subject. I perceived the ability to just not let go as a great quality in the late Konrad Boehmer. And I am sure he would have liked me starting his obituary with talking about this specific trait of his, his constant search for the utmost honesty in any discussion.
That he suddenly is no more is a shock to everybody who knew him. An energetic person like him could only be struck down by lightning or a stroke, this much is clear. It takes force and violence to stop a man like Konrad. That this happened much too soon is evident. I was always looking forward to his many surprising emails, ranting about this or that, pointing out funny things, observing the weird little “New Music” world in which we all live with great irony and self-deprecating humor. I miss him already in this world of yay-sayers and all-too-careful music politics.
I remember meeting him for the first time many years ago. He had set texts by Munich author Albert Ostermaier to crazy and violent music, which I found shocking and immensely appealing at the same time. His love for the source material by Ostermaier could be felt in every bar of the piece. As scathing as he could be sometimes as a person, he was always full of praise for things that he loved dearly. He could talk passionately about many subjects, not only musical, with great wit and sharp knowledge. His intelligence, his grasp of language and logic was actually quite frightening sometimes, but never less than impressive.
Every obituary should at some point talk about the music of a composer. And it is evident that his musical oeuvre is worth all the love that he so happily conveyed on his favorite subjects. Still, for me it is inseparable from the person Konrad Boehmer. I hear him in every note. He is present. He doesn’t let me, the listener, in peace, not for one single minute. He respects my individuality, but he definitely wants to enlighten me, about one thing or another. He was the Doktor Faustus of contemporary music, if only in intelligence. No wonder his most famous work is also called like that.
This is meant as a great compliment.
And therein lies the tragedy of his passing. We would have needed him so urgently in the years to come, would have needed his musical and personal courage, his unconventionality and genial eccentricity.
For this the world is poorer.
Rest in Peace, my friend.
On Saturday 4 October, the composer and music critic Konrad Boehmer (born 24 May 1941 in Berlin) died in Amsterdam at the age of 73. He had suffered a cerebral infarction on 10 August while on holiday in the south of France, and since 24 August had been cared for at the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis (OLVG) in Amsterdam.
Konrad Boehmer had lived in Amsterdam since 1966. His large compositional oeuvre includes both acoustic and electronic music, which was performed throughout the world. In 1983 he received the Rolf Liebermann Prize for his opera Doktor Faustus. As a music critic he wrote for the weekly Vrij Nederland magazine and also published internationally on contemporary music and authors’ rights.
From 1972 onwards Konrad Boehmer taught at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, where he directed the Institute of Sonology from 1994 to 2006. He held numerous chairmanships, including of the Dutch musical authors’ rights society BUMA/STEMRA and the Society of Dutch Composers GeNeCo.
Konrad Boehmer received the honour „Officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau“ from Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
The date of the funeral will shortly be announced.