Stefan Münzer finds intuitive, independent ways of musical expression and form in his improvised and composed solo piano music. Musical ideas and playing come from a central inner source. Stefan Münzer has absorbed diverse musical influences that touched him personally (eg., Baroque, Impressionism, Jazz, Minimal Music, New Music, Free Improvisation), but he always felt that he was searching for something different. This feeling motivated him to embark on a journey of discovery for his own music, avoiding learning by imitation and avoiding playing in defined styles. This journey has been going on for about three decades now and will continue.
In Stefan Münzer’s playing, all his attempts to shape music in time have one thing in common – relational richness. Everything in the music has manifold references to what has been sounded before – and yet preserves that special, delicate freedom of improvisation and independence of an original character which is heard here in varying degrees of spontaneity.
Different strands may be discerned in his work regarding the balance between improvisation and compositional elements (although not easily distinguishable just by listening). There are improvisations that revolve around core compositional ideas or central musical parameters, there are pieces that balance composition and improvisation, there are composed-out pieces, and there are entirely free improvisations. In some improvisations, Stefan Münzer ignores western-tonal „rules“ for specification of musical parameters such as defined harmony, meter, or rhythmic structure, while in other pieces, he sticks to the firm hold of tonal harmony and meter as the base for rhythm.
Free Improvisation Examples
Here are examples of free improvisations that had no set musical parameter before the first note was played.
Audio: „Associative Minds“. Recorded 2018. Solo Piano Free Improvisation performed by Stefan Münzer
Audio: „Identity“. Recorded 2014. Solo Piano Free Improvisation performed by Stefan Münzer
Improvisation with Core Ideas Examples
Here are examples of improvisations that had minimal core ideas (such as a sound, a rhythm) that were pre-determined before starting to play.
Audio: „Still Moving“. Recording 2014. Solo Piano Improvisation performed by Stefan Münzer
Audio: „STUDY FOR IMPROVISATION: wasserklavier“. Recorded 2018. Solo Piano Improvisation performed by Stefan Münzer
Audio: „- No Title – „. Recorded 2020. This was a spontaneous idea to experiment with prepared piano on a steady rhythm. Preparation by Stefan Münzer, Solo Piano Improvisation performed by Stefan Münzer
Balanced Composition and Improvisation Example
The following is an example of a beautiful tonal piece with balance between composition and improvisation.
Working in Process – Towards Pieces
Composition as well as the balancing of composition with improvisation in a piece is a laborious process involving diverse stages of revisions and reflections and work on the pieces. Also, for a coherent improvisation, it is necessary to really understand and elaborate the compositional idea of a piece. It is not enough to just know about the chord progression (if there is one). Over the years, many notes and sketches have accumulated, some illegible… reflecting a process of learning and growth. In recent years, Stefan Münzer started to write down more of his pieces as compositions, occasionally with improvisation parts therein.
The following two pieces are written-out compositions (written and recorded some time ago). In the near future, Stefan Münzer will make recordings of more recently written pieces. As they exist as compositions, they might be accessible for other players independently of Stefan Münzer’s own playing of his pieces. This might imply that other player’s might be interested in Stefan Münzer’s approach to improvisation and composition (For more information about the approach, see „About“).
Audio: „SORTIE“. Recorded 1998. Composition by Stefan Münzer, performed by Stefan Münzer.
Audio: „Minimal Prelude f-moll“. Recorded 2003. Composition by Stefan Münzer, performed by Stefan Münzer.