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Compostela-Xunta de Galicia prize


Helmut Rilling, III International Compostela-Xunta de Galicia Prize



In 1999, the Jury of the International Compostela Group - Xunta de Galicia Prize, presided over by Manuel Fraga, President of the Galician Regional Government, and formed by the Regional Minister for Culture, Social Communication and Tourism, Jesús Pérez Varela, represented by the General Director for Cultural Heritage, Angel Sicart Giménez; the Regional Minister for Education and Universities, Celso Currás Fernández; the General Director for Universities, José Eduardo López Pereira; the President of the Compostela Group of Universities, Prof. Marc Richelle, from Liege University (Belgium); the Rector of Minho University (Portugal), Prof. Licínio Chainho; the Rector of Neuchâtel, (Switzerland), Prof. Francis Persoz; the Rector of Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan (Poland), Prof. Stefan Jurga, represented by the Vice-Rector for Research, Prof. Marek Kreglewski and Marta González, Secretary of the Compostela Group of Universities and Secretary of the Jury, chose unanimously Maestro Helmuth Rilling, a German orchestra director and the creator of the Bachakademie, highlighting his work in favour of the preservation of the legacy of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach –the 250 anniversary of his death is celebrated in 2000- through his work as a researcher and director, and his initiative of creation of a system of international and itinerant music schools, the Bachakademies, devoted to the works of the same composer and in general to choral music.


Helmuth Rilling was born in 1933 in Stuttgart in the bosom of a family fond of music and studied in that same city – organ with Karl Gerock, composition with Johann Nepomuk David and choral direction with Hans Grischkat- in Rome –with Fernando Germani and in the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena- and in New York -with Leonard Bernstein-. While being still a student, he founded his first choir, which counted with forty members. He centred his career on the institutions created by him: that same choir, Gächinger Kantorei, and the orchestra Bach Collegium from Stuttgart, with which he gained international fame. He was also an organist and choir maestro in the Gedächtniskirche of Stuttgart, since 1957, and teacher of choral direction and organ in the Sacred Music School of Spandau. After studying some time in New York, next to Leonard Bernstein, he took up a chair of choral direction in the State Music Higher Education School of Frankfurt and directed until 1981 the choir of Frankfurt. He was the first director who recorded Bach’s Sacred Cantatas; he has also performed for the first time Rossini’s Requiem Mass, which was considered to be lost, or Schubert’s Lazarus. In 1981 he created the Internationale Bachakademie of Stuttgart, which organises seminars in different countries aiming at increasing the knowledge of the interpretation and direction of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works. These academies act regularly in Japan, Poland, Spain, Hungary, Russia or Venezuela. In 1996, he created in Santiago de Compostela the Real Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia.


In 1976, Rilling became the first German director who was invited to direct the Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel accompanied by his choir. Nowadays he keeps a close relation with this orchestra, and since then he has directed a high number of concerts in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.


Rilling’s discography is large and varied. His more remarkable records are the ones that contain his interpretations of the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach’s choral music. However, at times, he also performs oratorios and less known dramatic works from the XVIII and XIX centuries.