Annette Schlünz was born in 1964 in Dessau, East Germany. From 1976 to 1983 she was a member of the class of young composers in the school at Halle under the direction of the composer Hans Jürgen Wenzel. She then studied composition with Udo Zimmermann at the Musikhochschule in Dresden from 1983 to 1987, then at the Akademie der Künstein Berlin with Paul-Heinz Dittrich, from 1988 to 1991. She also followed the conducting classes of Rudolf Neuhaus as well as classes for the piano, music theory and electronic music. In 1990 she won the Hanns Eisler Composition Prize of Deutschlandradio Berlin for her string trio, followed, in 1998, by the Künstlerinnenpreis of the city of Heidelberg.
Schlünz was in residence in Darmstadt (1990, 1992), at the electronic music studio of the Akademie der Künstein Berlin (1994, 2002), at the Deutsche Akademie of the Villa Massimo in Rome (1999), at the Akademie Schloss Solitudein Stuttgart (2000), at the Kulturstiftung Rhein-Neckar-Kreis in Dilsberg (2000), at the Kunstlerinnenhof in Bremen (2003) and at GRAME in Lyons (2005 and 2007). Her encounters with Iannis Xenakis in Darmstadt and with Helmut Lachenmann in Stuttgart had a clear influence on her work.
The co-founder in 1994 of the Compagnie des Quatre, a Franco-German ensemble for which she is both performer and composer, Annette Schlünz has written for many ensembles and festivals who have commissioned works from her.
She has composed music for solo instrument (Goldige Zeiten for violin, 1988; Ach, es… for tuba, 1991), chamber music (Taubenblaue Schatten haben sich vermischt for flute and guitar, 1990; Et la pluie se mit à tomber for six percussionists, 1994), music for orchestra (Picardie, 1992; Doch dir darin for bass clarinet, tuba and orchestra, 2002), operas (Matka, 1988, chamber opera based on Karel Capek’s play The Mother; Un jour d’été, opera for children with a libretto by Pierre Garnier, 1996; TagNachtTraumstaub, 2000), vocal music (Rosen for mezzo-soprano, piano and synthesiser, 1988; Ornithopoésie for 12 voices, 1989), works with electronics (Unaufhörliche Schlaflosigkeit for tuba and tape, 1994) and multimedia works (Auch Ameisen wären gern Vögel for soprano, 87 mixed voices, bass clarinet, accordion, 2 percussions, subaquatic installation, 2002). She is also interested in composing for unusual venues (Das das das andere Ufer, 2001, commissioned by the Europaischer Musikmonat of Basel, music for crossing the Rhine in Basel on ferries with an installation by Thierry Aué).
Poetry and literature hold an important place in her compositions. Schlünz likes the sounds of words and will transcribe them musically. Similarly, she will transfer into music the proportions of a poem: the relationship between the syllables, the number of words, etc. Fadensonnen for 17 instruments (1993), from a word invented by Paul Celan, takes as its starting point a magic square forming multiple structures. The rhythm of the bars, the sound material of the composition, the different variants in orchestration and the formal composition are determined by the dimensions of the magic square.
Annette Schlünz has written many works to texts by Pierre Garnier: Ornithopoésie for 12 voices (1989); Tout est rêver for soprano, clarinet and percussion (1992); Glas im Brauche for soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon (2004); L’air est une pomme for three voices and accordion (2012).
Other writers also feature in her catalogue: her string quartet An eine Vernunft (1982) is based on texts by Arthur Rimbaud; Traumkraut, for eight musicians (1995), takes its title from the writer Ivan Goll; Moccoli for soprano, clarinet and cello (1999) is based on texts by Goethe and a recording of this piece for EMI Classics was awarded the prize of the Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. Taubenblaue schatten haben sich vermischt (1990) for flute and guitar, was inspired by the poetry of the southern troubadours. The flute is treated as a human voice.
The composer works on instrumental and vocal modes of play, bringing them together and blending them as in Aufgelöst (2000). She likes to crossplay instruments: a tuba will play with a saxophone mouthpiece, a trombone bell….
By using advanced playing techniques, the sound is transformed in a microcosm that, through the deployment of its component elements, is placed in permanent movement, and this gives it the possibility of opening a door to another world. Schlünz draws from very simple events in the sound world that surrounds her: footsteps in the snow or on gravel, the sound of a tree in the wind… the external sounds trigger a musical process, she creates a sound climate that is continuously present, directing research into time. Interested in the idea of speed, in time that is continually dilating or contracting, she desires to stop movement in order to obtain sound that is stable, that does not move, while still changing colour.
Schlünz is also active as a pedagogue. A harmony teacher at the Musikhochschule of Dresden (1987-1992), artistic adviser for the Centre of Contemporary Music in Dresden (1987-2006), she gives many composition masterclasses in South America, Vietnam, Copenhagen and Chicago.
A teacher of composition since 2009 at the Hochschule für Musik in Weimar and, since 2012, at the Strasburg Conservatory, she has also been a lecturer in contemporary music at the University of Strasburg since 2010.
In 2013, at Rosheim in Alsace, she founded with Thierry Blondeau a composition class for teenagers as well as an initiation class for composition. Her piece Traces for percussion (2014), the aim of which is to leave traces of sound in space, relates to the Percustra pedagogic approach, taking into account the wished-for sounds and technical possibilities of non-musicians. The score was developed in collaboration with six amateur musicians of the Le Corbusier high school of Illkirch and Claude Ferrier, a member of the Percussions de Strasbourg. It comprises written parts and others that are improvised, with a predefined choice of instruments, a certain number of actions and a fixed time framework.
Annette Schlünz is a member of the Arts Academy of Saxony and of the Freien Akademie Hamburg. Since 2014 she has been a member of the advisory committee of HEAR (Haute École des Arts du Rhin) Strasburg - Mulhouse.