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School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

The music of Weinberg

Obscure no more - the music of Mieczyslaw Weinberg.

Research on Mieczyslaw Weinberg and his music has brought this little-known composer to a wider audience. Working with musicians, record companies and arts venues, Professor David Fanning has supported performances and premieres – including the first ever performance of Weinberg's 17 string quartets – across Europe.

Collaborations with musicians, including the Quatuor Danel, have introduced the works of Polish-born composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg to musicians and the public

Close up photo of Mieczyslaw Weinberg
751 people from around the world attended Quatuor Danel's premiere performance of Weinberg's 17 string quartets at The University of Manchester.

Professor Fanning's work has established The University of Manchester as the main centre of study and repository of source material concerning Mieczyslaw Weinberg in the Western world.

His research has helped to bring the works of this little-known composer to a much larger audience, from musicians to concert-goers as well as through Fanning's public lectures and contributions to TV documentaries.

He has also collaborated closely with performers, orchestras and groups, preparing performance editions of the music and contributing to their interpretation.

Key performances

  • World premiere of Weinberg's 'Requiem' by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, using Professor Fanning's translation
  • World premiere of the opera 'Lady Magnesia', using Professor Fanning's translation
  • David Pountney's libretto for the English National Opera, based on a literal translation for the opera 'The Passenger'
  • 'The Portrait' opera, conducted by Bulgarian conductor Rossen Gergov, who used Professor Fanning's research to assist his interpretation of the work
  • World premiere and award winning performances by the Quatuor Danel of the complete cycle of Weinberg's 17 string quartets
  • Performances of individual Weinberg quartets in 90 concerts Europe-wide

Prior to Professor Fanning's research recordings of Weinberg's music were uncommon. Roughly four times as many CD recordings are now available, most directly or indirectly connected with the research. Recordings include Allison Franzetti's complete piano music of Weinberg.

The University of Manchester Quartet cycle (and Lady Magnesia) were nominated as the 'most adventurous programming [in the UK] of 2009' by Ivan Hewett in The Daily Telegraph. The first volume of CD recordings of the cycle (2007-2012) was nominated by BBC Music Magazine as 'Chamber CD of the month'.

The world-wide impact of Professor Fanning's research is summed up by a music journalist from The New Yorker: "It is difficult to think of another example of scholarly work having such immediate impact on the repertory of ensembles and opera houses around the world…"

The research

Professor Fanning's research explored the contribution of Mieczyslaw Weinberg to both Soviet and international musical development and how his work reflects wider social and cultural issues. The research used biographical materials and the Weinberg family archive.

Key outputs:

  • Assessment of all 20,000 pages of Weinberg manuscripts
  • Critical analysis of his works including 154 opuses and more than 70 film and theatre scores
  • Translation of vocal works
  • Preparation of performance editions of the string quartets

Academic profile