Rudolf HakenAssociate Professor of Viola
B.M., University of Illinois; M.M., Rice University.
Rudolf Haken has been on the music faculty of the University of Illinois since 1996, previously having served as viola professor at West Virginia University
A CD of concertos composed by Rudolf Haken was chosen as an American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice” for 2007. The CD (on the Centaur Records label) features oboist Nancy Ambrose King, clarinetist Bill King, conductor Julien Benichou, as well as Professor Haken playing a five-string “Pellegrina” viola pomposa built by David Rivinus. According to The Clarinet (journal of the International Clarinet Society), “This disc is highly recommended not only for the clarinet work, but also for Haken’s exuberant Americana fiddling style of the viola work and the beautiful and engaging Oboe Concerto . . . a joy to experience. This is a winner – guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.” American Record Guide states: “Ordinary boundaries do not fence Rudolf Haken in . . . He flaunts his fiddling capabilities in a Concerto for Five-String Viola – four wacky but well-crafted movements . . .
In the June 2009 journal of the Australia-New Zealand Viola Society, Paul Groh writes: “I realise that I have compared Haken’s early music favourably to that of some of the greatest composers of the Romantic era, as well as some of the core works in the viola literature. I mean every word. They really are that good. . . Those of us who carry on a love affair with the viola, whether four-or five-stringed. . . can applaud the achievements of this extraordinary musician and take pleasure in his contributions to the literature for our instrument. . . Haken has become an outstanding concert artist, a bold and exciting performer who has toured internationally to great success. . . His viola works are distinguished by a sensuous lyricism, an exuberant sense of humour, a natural and thorough mastery of compositional technique, and above all an intimate understanding of the technical and expressive capabilities of the viola - a body of work all the more remarkable in that much of it was composed when Haken was still in his teens. . . Haken, at the same age, had already attained a higher level of development - yes, than the young Felix Mendelssohn.” (The complete article is posted at www.contemporaryviola.com.)
In April 2011, Haken’s Violin Concerto for Stefan Milenkovich was premiered at the NOMUS Festival (Novi Sad, Serbia) and at Kolarac Hall in Belgrade. Radio Srbija reported: “Haken’s concerto was such a success that the public demanded an encore and Milenkovich repeated the most virtuosic part of the concerto . . . The huge applause and screaming from the audience made it seem like we are all at a rock concert . . . a standing ovation from the audience of all generations . . .”
In May 2011, Rudolf Haken performed and taught at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna); Universität Siegen (Studio für neue Musik) in Germany; Salle Jacques Brel in Montigny-le-Bretonneux (France); Conservatorio Oficial de Música in Cáceres (Spain); and Y?ld?z Teknik Üniversitesi in Istanbul.
In 1996, Professor Haken was commissioned by the Radiological Consultants Association to compose a trumpet concerto, which was premiered by Paul Merkelo, principal trumpet of the Montreal Symphony. He has composed commissioned solo works for flutist Jean Ferrandis, Nobel Prize laureate Paul Lauterbur and numerous others.
Haken has been a featured performer of contemporary music at conventions of the Society of Composers, Inc., the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, the American Composer’s Alliance in New York City, University of York in England, University of Toronto, and Queens University. A 2007 Capstone Records release features Haken performing viola works of Matthew Davidson. Pianist Robert Auler has performed Haken’s piano works at the Beethoven-Halle and the Alte-Shmeide Gallery Series in Vienna, the Ignaz-Pleyel-Museum in Ruppersthal, and on his CDAmerican Century. Professor Haken has performed his Concerto for Five-String Viola with several orchestras in North America, South America and Europe. The Badische Zeitung praised him for his “absolutely infallible intonation, intense concentration and endless variety of interpretation,” while the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung lauded him for his “extroverted, resonant tone” and the “delicate, yet strong intensity” of his playing. The Herforder Zeitung noted his “acrobatic virtuosity” on the piano.
In 2004 WTTW-Chicago produced a video featuring Rudolf Haken performing his transcriptions of Van Halen and Metallica on a Jensen five-string electric viola. This video was shown frequently in passenger areas at O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago. On May 5, 2011, the Siegener Zeitung wrote: “A visit to Rudolf Haken’s YouTube channel . . . reveals the liveliness, the freedom, and the serenity that exemplifies this artist—and the courage he has to present himself for videos. Now we see him playing music of Van Halen and Metallica, in leather pants and cool poses, with an electric viola. Then, a few clicks further, Rudolf Haken is shown as an interpreter of Bach, in a concert hall, with great seriousness and interprative depth. He is a pioneer, as demonstrated by his repertoire, his way of working, and his manner. This is what drives him, and what he delivers to the audience.”
Under the heading “The man with the unique super-viola,”the Westfälische Rundschau wrote of Rudolf Haken’s performance on his Rivinus 5-string viola pomposa (May 5, 2011): “The versatility of the instrument was convincing, allowing the technically skilled and musically expert virtuoso to expand the narrow bounds of conventional instrumental art to an almost unlimited degree.”
Professor Haken has served on the faculty of the Schlern International Chamber Music Festival (Italian Alps), Michigan City Chamber Music Festival (Indiana), Musikalischer Sommer in Ostfriesland (Germany), Hot Springs Music Festival (Arkansas), Interlochen Music Camp (Michigan All-State), Zomeravond Concerten (Netherlands), Mammoth Lakes Festival (California) and Quartz Mountain Festival (Oklahoma). He has given master classes internationally, with venues including the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, Kookmin and Jungang Universities in South Korea, the Welsh National Academy of Music and Drama, and the Universidade de Caxias do Sul in Brazil. Haken has served as guest violist for the Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera, performing under such renowned conductors as Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Tilson Thomas and Sir Neville Marriner. Mr. Haken has performed in London, Beijing and Shanghai as principal violist of the Sinfonia da Camera, and has toured South Korea with the World Symphony Orchestra. Professor Haken has acted as adjudicator for the Houston Symphony Young Artists, Midwest Young Artists, Missouri ASTA and Chicago Viola Society competitions.
At the age of ten, Haken conducted his first orchestral works in the Foellinger Great Hall of the Krannert Center, with the encouragement of Professor Charles DeLaney. As a teenager Haken studied composition and piano with Hubert Kessler, and viola with Guillermo Perich.
The viola studio provides an atmosphere of intense study in a supportive, nurturing environment. Through performances at weekly studio classes, required and optional recitals, auditions and competitions, students gain performance experience while receiving productive, encouraging feedback from their peers. I place great emphasis on the development of a completely relaxed and comfortable approach to the instrument. Learning to practice properly and without strain is of paramount importance, as the rigors of viola study demand a tremendous amount of time with the instrument. Individual learning styles weigh heavily in the development of a practice regimen, which I establish with each student through analysis and discussion. To prepare for professional life, students work through technical exercises, Ètudes, solo recital repertoire, chamber works, and symphonic literature. In matters of interpretation, students are taught how to come upon a compelling and convincing execution themselves. By developing a thorough understanding of music as well as a formidable technique, each musician's unique personality can be allowed to fully flower.