Geneva

The practice of writing

Thanks to a teaching team with extremely varied areas of expertise, the Haute école de musique de Genève (HEM) offers its theory students writing training that is both demanding and open to a very wide range of styles.

The complementary nature of our professors’ academic paths and fields of expertise enables the students to enjoy great freedom of choice when it comes to the stylistic fields they want to explore and gain an insight into.  

As the main subject of the theoretical training, the “Practice of writing” class covers Western musical styles from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. This class enables the students to be monitored and guided in specific experimentation relating to the musical concepts associated with these eras.

The advantages of the writing classes include:

  • A vision of writing music that is not cloistered, enabling a diverse range of writing styles and approaches to be put in contact with each other.
  • A team of teachers with complementary skills, who are active in musical life: composers, arrangers, orchestra leaders, improvisers and choir conductors, the teachers bring a living musical perspective to the act of writing.  
  • Very wide fields of writing approaches: thanks to our teachers’ cumulative fields of expertise, numerous musical approaches can be explored. The students may already have been inspired by composers from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, by the fundamentals of baroque, classical or romantic writing, or by the major trends in the 20th century...  
  • An exploration of the past that leads to works being created in the present: works composed by young theoreticians are worked on and interpreted by the students of the HEM at an annual performance-exam. The writing process is thus taken through to completion and promoted at a public performance.
  • A class that is constantly evolving: the stylistic fields explored can be enlarged without any limitations. A regular link with the activities of the composition classes enables the student, in particular, to be aware of changes in contemporary writing. Furthermore, ties to the ethnomusicology course and the Department of Music of the Past also help to enrich the sources and areas of thought.
  • Connection with musical analysis: a constant connection with musical analysis is built into the writing activities. Some of the classes offered at the University of Geneva also make it possible to complete students’ training in this field.        

Teachers

Nicolas Bolens

Head of the Composition and Theory Department - Professor of Counterpoint, 20th-Century Writing, and Practical Writing - Coordinator of General Music Training Modules

En associant traditions et explorations nouvelles des matières sonores, les œuvres de Nicolas Bolens investissent l’espace en valorisant les éléments et les sujets qui se présentent à lui. Combining traditions and new explorations of sound materials, the works of Nicolas Bolens invest in space by enhancing the elements and subjects that present themselves to him. His music is regularly connected to other elements: texts, films, places, evocations... In each context, he seeks an authentic dramaturgy that promotes unprecedented settings. For example, with the Batida ensemble, he imagined "Welcome to the Castle" (2017), three musical acts for musicians moving through the Allymes Castle near Amberieu-en-Bugey. For the Gémeau Quartet, he wrote "La Ville Oblique" (2013), a string quartet conceived as a musical extension of the short film "Un Chien Andalou" by Dalí and Buñuel. Written words, most often poetic, permeate his entire production. He has composed on poems by Celan, Sachs, Mallarmé, Char, Blok, Khayyam, Michaux, Éluard, Basho, Neruda, Rilke, Adonis, Shakespeare... These authors, from various times and origins, have led him to integrate many languages into his works, considering their sonic as well as semantic potentials. Orchestration also holds an important place in his work, rethinking the instrumentation of certain past works. In 2018, he re-orchestrated "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" and the 4th Symphony by Gustav Mahler for the Lemanic Modern Ensemble under the direction of conductor Pierre Bleuse. Commissioned by the association Ouverture Opera, his recent rewriting of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" follows the same approach. Nicolas Bolens has notably collaborated with the Batida ensemble, the Lemanic Modern Ensemble, the Swiss Chamber Soloists, the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne, the Ensemble Vocal Polhymnia, the Ensemble Vortex, the Basler Madrigalisten, and the Ensemble Vocal Séquence... Born in Geneva, he first studied piano at the Conservatoire de musique de Genève, then completed his training in the composition class of Jean Balissat. He further honed his skills with Rudolph Kelterborn, Klaus Huber, Edison Denisov, and Eric Gaudibert. He is the recipient of numerous composition prizes, including those from the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne (1993) and the Banque Cantonale Neuchâteloise (2002), as well as a scholarship from the Leenaards Foundation (1998). An engaged pedagogue and artist, he teaches counterpoint, 20th-century writing, and composition at the Haute école de musique de Genève, where he has been the head of the Composition and Theory Department since 2015. He is also involved in several institutions related to musical creation in Switzerland, including the Swiss Musicians Association, the Archipel Festival Association, the Nicati-de-Luze Foundation, and the Artistic Council of the Geneva Competition. Learn more about Nicolas Bolens  

Charlotte Perrey Beaude

Professeure de Pratique de l'Écriture - Écriture de Cadences - Solfège

Charlotte Perrey commence ses études musicales par l’apprentissage du piano, développant rapidement un goût prononcé pour l’improvisation et la composition. Après des études en classe de mathématiques supérieures, elle se consacre pleinement à la musique et se spécialise dans l’écriture auprès de Stéphane Delplace. Elle poursuit ses études au Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris où elle obtient les Premiers Prix en Harmonie, Contrepoint, Ecriture XXe-XXIe, Fugue et Formes, ainsi que le Prix Marcel Dautremer. Elle se forme notamment auprès de Jean-François Zygel, Thierry Escaich et Marc-André Dalbavie.  Elle enseigne aujourd’hui dans les Hautes écoles de musique de Lausanne et de Genève.

Rodolphe Schacher

Professeur de Pratique de l'Écriture - Analyse - Harmonie - Contrepoint

Le compositeur franco-suisse et pianiste Rodolphe Schacher est né en France en 1973. R. Schacher effectue ses études musicales à Paris, Genève et Zurich, sous la direction de Michael Jarrell, Thierry Escaich, Gerald Bennett et Ulrich Koella. Il est récompensé par cinq premiers prix (harmonie, contrepoint, contrepoint renaissance, fugue et formes, musique du XXème siècle) au CNSM de Paris, et obtient le diplôme de composition et de théorie avec les félicitations, ainsi le diplôme de concert en musique de chambre à la Haute Ecole d’Arts de Zurich. Parallèlement à ses activités artistiques, R. Schacher enseigne l’analyse et l’écriture à la Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève, l’écriture à la Haute Ecole de musique de Lausanne, et la composition jusqu’à juin 2015 à la Haute Ecole de Zurich.

Antoine Schneider

Professeur de Pratique de l'Écriture - Contrepoint

Après des études de violon et de musicologie à Genève, Antoine Schneider se perfectionne en théorie musicale à Zurich avec Burkhard Kinzler et Andreas Nick. Il se forme également en direction musicale, en piano et en violon baroque. Il compose et arrange de nombreuses pièces pour des formations diverses et collabore ainsi avec différents ensembles, comme l’Orchestre Nexus, le Chœur Laudate Deum de Lausanne ou encore le Seefelder Kammerchor de Zürich. Il participe à la redécouverte d’œuvres tombées dans l’oubli et crée, entre autres, deux oratorios basés sur des cantates inédites de Christoph Graupner avec l’ensemble Lamed de Zurich et des membres du Bach Collegium Japan. Il mène par ailleurs des travaux de recherches historiques et collabore notamment à des publications sur l’Opéra de Lausanne ainsi que sur les fontaines de Lausanne. Antoine Schneider est actuellement professeur de théorie dans les Hautes écoles de musique à Genève, Fribourg et Bienne.

Nicolas Bolens
Perrey
Schacher
Schneider

Departments and associated courses