Helmut Zapf

(b. 4 March 1956, Remptendorf-Rauschengesees, Thuringia).

German composer of mostly orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, and organ works that have been performed throughout Europe.

Mr. Zapf privately studied organ and piano with Gerhard Voltz as a child and later trained as an apprentice to an automobile mechanic from 1972–74. He then studied composition with Johannes Petzold and organ with Gottfried Preller and Hans-Günter Wauer in Eisenach and Halle and often attended seminars in Gera from 1974–79. He studied composition with Georg Katzer at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin from 1982–86. He also attended the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt in 1990, on a scholarship.

Among his honours are the Premio Valentino Bucchi in Rome (1986, for Solo), the Hanns-Eisler-Preis (1986, for Concertino) and the Kompositionspreis at the Weimarer Tage für Neue Musik (2003, for Frühling), as well as residencies at the Villa Massimo in Rome (1995), the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris (1998) and the Künstlerhof Schreyahn (2000). He has been a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin since 2015.

He is also active in other positions. He worked as a cantor in Eisenberg, Thuringia from 1979–82. He founded the Ensemble Junge Musik for contemporary music in Berlin in 1992. He co-founded with his wife Karin the annual series for contemporary music Randspiele in Panketal-Zepernick in 1993. He performs as a church organist in Panketal-Zepernick.

He has taught ear training and music theory at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin since 1987 and composition, ear training and music theory at the Musikschule Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg in Berlin since 1990.

He is the father of the violinist Susanne Zapf.

His primary publishers are Boosey & Hawkes and the Ortus Verlag.





Lilith (scenic oratorio, texts by Kerstin Hensel, Aniar Amos, the composer), soprano, bass, 2 dancers, flute, oboe, clarinet, viola, cello, double bass, piano, American organ, 2 percussion, fixed media, film (by Aniar Amos), 1999–2000

Das goldene Kalb (ballet in 3 scenes with introduction and epilogue), soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, harp, violin, viola, 2 cellos, double bass, piano, accordion, 2 percussion, fixed media, 2005–06

Kreis im Quadrat, violin (+ voice), live electronics ad libitum, 2013 (may be performed as a concert work)


Concertino, 1986

Venezianische Erinnerungen, 1987

Zusammenklang I, small orchestra (16 players), 1987

Dreiklang III, large orchestra (70 players), 1992

Dreiklang V (romance), piano, large orchestra (63 players), 1994

Lobe der Steine, violin, small orchestra, 2000 (version of Prolog, tenor, violin, small orchestra)

Nürnberger Mixt(o)ur, 16 or more accordions, fixed media (5 tracks), 2001–02

Albedo VI, sheng (mouth organ from China), small orchestra (13 players), 2002

Aufwind, small orchestra (winds, brass, percussion), 2009

via rupta, small orchestra (14 players), 2009


Recitativ, oboe, string quartet, 1979

Friede auf Erden, trombone, 1981

Singender Mann, flute, 1982

Streichquartett I, string quartet, 1984

Brechungen I–III, flute (+ piccolo, alto flute), violin, viola, cello, 1981–85 (its sections may be performed separately)

Contra-Punkte, flute, bassoon, viola, piano, percussion, 1985

Komposition, flute, bassoon, French horn, violin, viola, cello, piano, percussion, live electronics, 1986

Solo, double bass, 1986

Wandlungen, trombone, fixed media, 1986

In Melodie den Geist zu wiegen, ertöne nun der Saite Zauber, harp, 1987

Posaunenklang, trombone, 1987

Tanzende Alte, cello, 1987

Arpeggio, harp, fixed media, 1988

Intrada, any 8 brass, 1988

organum, harp, organ, percussion, 1988

Psalmos, flute, harp, 1988

Skulptur, 3 guitars, 1988

Zusammenklang II, oboe, English horn, trombone, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion, 1988

rivolto, oboe (+ English horn), viola, double bass, 1989

2 + 4, 6 percussion, 1989–90

Air, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 1990

2:1, bass clarinet (+ soprano saxophone), fixed media, 1990

Zusammenklang III, flute (+ piccolo, alto flute), oboe (+ English horn), clarinet, bassoon, French horn, piano, 1989–91

Dreiklang I, 2 bass clarinets, double bass, 1991

3 + 1, violin, viola, cello, accordion, 1991

Epilog, double bass, fixed media, 1991

Lied zu zweit, alto recorder, piano, 1991

Trio, 2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, double bass, 1991

Dreiklang II, 2 bass clarinets, tuba, 1992

Dreiklang IV, 3 contrabass clarinets, 1992, revised 2009

sound, string quartet, 1993

canzone, bass drum, live electronics, 1994

être en vie, 6 percussion, 1994

strumento dell'arco, violin, viola, any noise instruments (1 player), fixed media, 1994

Zwischentöne – Dreiklang VI, flute, oboe, clarinet, guitar, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion, 1994

Abendklänge, improvisational bass saxophone, ensemble (flute [+ piccolo, bass flute], bass clarinet, trombone, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion), 1995

canto dell'aria, oboe, fixed media, 1995

Concertino, accordion, fixed media, 1995

Romanze, violin, piano, 1995

air varié, oboe, harp, 1996

Trio I–II, violin, viola, cello, 1996

Denstedter Klanglandschaften I, violin, organ, 1997

Denstedter Klanglandschaften II, violin, organ, percussion, fixed media, 1998

Drei Brechungen aus VII, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, 1998

square, bass clarinet (+ clarinet), trumpet, violin, double bass, fixed media (4 tracks), 1998

Frühling, harp, accordion, 1999

Sommer, clarinet, accordion, 1999

Herbst, viola, accordion, 1999

Winter, double bass, accordion, 1999

Hommage Nr. 3, violin, organ, fixed media, 1999

Trionfale I, 4 trombones, 2 bass trombones, 1999

ach B, violin, fixed media, 2000

Albedo I, piccolo (+ flute, alto flute, bass flute, contrabass flute), fixed media, 2000

Albedo III, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, 2000

namenlos, violin, 2000

Albedo IV, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet, tuba, harp, double bass, 2001

Albedo V, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, 2001

Im Rausch(en) der Sinne, 3 sopranino recorders (all + soprano recorder, alto recorder, tenor recorder, bass recorder), 2001

wo jetzt hingehen, 4 percussion, 2001

Albedo VII, flute, piano, percussion, 2002

ALLELUIA (chamber symphony), flute, bass clarinet, trombone, tuba, harp, violin, cello, vibraphone, 2002

auf dass die Gebeine wieder fröhlich werden (exultent ossa), clarinet, double bass, 2002

Domine pacem, 4 violas da gamba, 2002

wenn der winter kommt..., flute (+ piccolo, alto flute), guitar, 2002 (also version for guitar, violin, 2004)

Albedo VIII, flute (+ piccolo, alto flute), cello, piano, 2003

Trionfale II, French horn, trumpet/B-flat trumpet, trombone, tuba, 2 accordions, 2003

Momento Musicale, flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, harp, electric guitar, 2 violins, 2 cellos, piano, accordion, percussion, 2003

Albedo IX, bağlama (lute from Turkey), ensemble (flute, clarinet [+ bass clarinet], French horn, piano), 2003

POST-LUDUM, French horn, trumpet/B-flat trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion, 2003

ODEM I, flute (+ piccolo, bass flute), oboe, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), tuba, fixed media ad libitum, 2004

ODEM II, piano, accordion, 2004

...aber doch..., 2 soprano saxophones, 2 alto saxophones, string quartet, 2004 zwanzig... (for the 70th birthday of Georg Katzer), trombone, fixed media, 2005

Klangetüde III, 4 bağlama, violin, piano, 2005

Fragmente, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, 2006

Skelett, clarinet, double bass, accordion, live electronics, 2006

Sonette, guitar, 2006 (its five movements may be performed separately)

starres geld – weiße stille, 4 percussion, 2006

RANDSPIEL, percussion, fixed media, 2006

SAND, flute, clarinet, saxophone, violin, viola, cello, piano, 2006–07

racconto del suono per tre strumenti, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), double bass, accordion, 2007

on the hop, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), 4 percussion, 2007

Collage, soprano recorder, 2 alto recorders, 2 tenor recorders, 2 bass recorders, 2007

letargo, 4 bassoons, 2008

Wasser – Luft, trumpet, violin, piano, 2008

eine etwas defekte Schaukel, bassoon, 2009

november, violin, viola, 2009

Etüde für zwei Violinen, 2 violins, 2009

Baustelle II, any player, live electronics, 2009

après, flute, cello, piano, 2009

Störung, piano, 2 percussion, fixed media, 2009

3. Streichquartett, string quartet, 2008–10

Partita II – Lydia, violin/viola, live electronics, 2010 (also shorter version as LUD, violin/viola, live electronics ad libitum, 2010)

L, trumpet (+ flügelhorn), 2010

Hou-ou, guitar, violin, piano, 2010

Lydische Landschaft, flute, cello, accordion, 2010

articolazione e tempo, flute, 2011

Miriam (suite), flute (+ piccolo), live electronics ad libitum, 2011

canto e ballo, flute, 2011

persona, 2 soprano saxophones, 2011

A-B-A, flute, 2011

David und Goliath, accordion, 2011

Notausang, 4 saxophones, 2011

Bakkuda, guitar, double bass, live electronics, 2011

et incarnatus est, harp, organ, 2011

sing of spring, 3 clarinets, 2012

evening song, trumpet, piano, live electronics, 2012

NETZBAND, any high wind instrument, 3 clarinets, contrabass clarinet, 2012

Klangfetzen, saxophone, trumpet, electric guitar, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass guitar, percussion, 2012

Schattenwände, 5 contrabass clarinets, 2012

Verschwommene Ränder / Nine Bagatelles (after Verschwommene Ränder by Hendrik Jackson), string quartet, 2012–13

Kreis im Quadrat, violin (+ voice), live electronics ad libitum, 2013 (stage work; may be performed as a concert work)

NICHTS – gspieltgsungen, contrabass clarinet (+ voice), violin (+ voice), 2013

let, soprano saxophone, cello, piano, accordion, 2013

Dari, gayageum (zither from the Koreas), violin, double bass, piano, percussion, 2013


Das Leiden und Sterben unseres Herren Jesu (text from the Bible [German translation]), soprano, bass, speaker, 4 mixed voices, bass clarinet, violin, organ, 1980

Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen (text from Psalm 84 [German translation]), 4 mixed voices, 1988

Pater noster, 12 mixed voices, 1990

discantus II, 'ex quoque lapide' (text from the Bible [German translation]), 3 sopranos, 2 tenors, 3 basses, flute, any saxophone, French horn, violin, viola, 2 double basses, drum kit, 1997

magnificat, alto, 3 male voices, violin, organ, percussion, 1998

Lobet den Herren (text from Psalm 104 [German translation]), mixed chorus, 2000

Die sieben letzten Worte Jesu am Kreuz (text from the Bible [German translation]), mixed chorus, clarinet, 2002 (may be performed with Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze, H XX/1:A by Franz Joseph Haydn)

Die Sorgenvollen Gesichter (text by Wolfgang Hilbig), soprano, alto, tenor, 2 basses, 4–8 mixed voices, 2004

Telefon (text by Ulrike Liedtke), 4–8 female voices, 2004

MIGRATION, 4–8 mixed voices, alto saxophone, fixed media, 2007

Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär, soloists, speakers, mixed chorus, organ, orchestra, 2008

Lasst uns Hütten bauen, soloists, mixed chorus, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, organ, 2 percussion, 2010

Verleih uns Frieden, 4–6 mixed voices, 2011

fuga in circulum vitiosus, 4 speakers, 28 mixed voices, trombone, 4 cassette recorders, 2012

Das Glück (choral fantasy, text by Friedrich von Schiller), alto, 12 mixed voices, tenor saxophone, piano, string quartet, 2013–14


Piece 1 (text by Friedrich Hölderlin), mezzo-soprano, organ, small orchestra (5 winds, 3 French horns, harp, 3 percussion, 8 violas, 6 cellos, 4 double basses), 1990

Totentanz (text by Rolf Gerlach), speaker, 2 bass clarinets, organ, 1991

discantus I (text by Eva-Maria Kohl), mezzo-soprano, violin, organ, percussion, 1997

discantus III (text from the Bible [German translation]), high soprano, violin, 4 violas, percussion, 1998

Prolog (text from the Bible [German translation]), tenor, violin, small orchestra, 2000 (also version as Lobe der Steine, violin, small orchestra)

leer und still und... (text by Wolfgang Hilbig), soprano, flute (+ piccolo, alto flute), guitar, 2002 (also version for soprano, guitar, violin, 2004)

ein mund voll wind (text by Wolfgang Hilbig), mezzo-soprano, alto recorder, piano, timpani (+ vibraphone), 2005

rechenschaft (text by Wolfgang Hilbig), alto, oboe, 2005 (also versions for soprano, soprano saxophone, 2007; soprano, cello, 2009; soprano, piano, 2011; soprano, fixed media, 2012; version by Thomas Noll for soprano, organ, 2012)

Brecht ab den 'Sang der Maschinen'. Brecht auf., soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, violin, cello, double bass, piano, percussion, fixed media, 2006

weiß und rot, soprano, sheng, soprano saxophone, percussion, 2008

Vom Suchen und Finden, soprano, flutes (1 player), clarinets (1 player), 2011

freeze frame I–III (text by Hendrik Jackson), soprano, cello, 2012

Tachyon II (5 aphorisms, text by William Shakespeare), soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 2014


un verso per piano – la salita a Bellegra, 2009


Toccata, 1976

Fuge A. S., 1978

toccata 79, 'Dir, dir Jehova will ich singen', 1979

ombre I, organ, fixed media, 1997

Klangbeschreibungen für Orgel – Dominus pascit me, 2000

Domine labia mea aperia, 2002

Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott (toccata), 2004

ombre II, ' sind unsere Fröhlichkeiten...', organ, fixed media, 2004

Schmutz, organ (+ French horn), 2010

Orgelfantasie I, '...der Wunder tut' (in memoriam Werner Zapf), 2011


Anklang, fixed media, 1987

Motette, fixed media, 1991

...lass mich hören..., fixed media (4/8 tracks), 2002

Harmonie du soir, fixed media (4 tracks), 2006

Der Tod, fixed media (4 tracks), 2008

ZWISCHENZEIT, fixed media, 2008

wie im Himmel, also auch auf Erden, fixed media (12 tracks), 2011–12


Vater unser (completion of fragment by Max Reger), 12 mixed voices, 1991

Christus am Ölberge, Op. 85 (Ludwig van Beethoven), soprano, tenor, 4 mixed voices, 4 male voices, piano, organ, 2005

Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45 (London version) (Johannes Brahms), mezzo-soprano, baritone, mixed chorus, harp, 2 pianos, organ, timpani, 2006

Ciaconna from Partita Nr. 2 in D-moll, BWV 1004 (Johann Sebastian Bach), 4 mixed voices, violin, 2008