A special moment in my career as a composer is approaching: the premiere of my new work Lachrimae for mezzo-soprano, violin and organ. The title is inspired by the famous Lachrimae (“Tears”) by John Dowland from the late 16th century – but in fact it is a kind of modern “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” – a contemporary lament that expresses different characters of tears. I wrote the piece especially for the new Surround organ at St. Laurenzen church.

The lyrics for my piece are based on poems by the St. Gallen poet Meie Lutz, which she published some time ago and whose profoundness and lightness at the same time touch me deeply.

It is a pleasure to have Melanie Veser, a singer with great expression and a wonderful voice, and Elisabeth Kohler, a violinist with an outstandingly clear and at the same time heartfelt sound, for the world premiere.

Friday, March 29, 2024, 6pm. St. Laurenzen church, St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Liszt A Tempo III: Piano Sonata in B minor

It is perhaps the most transcendent and visionary work I know: Franz Liszt’s magnificent (and only) Piano Ponata in B minor. Volume 9 of the A Tempo Project is dedicated to it. The more I discovered the countless details of the compositions and developed my own rendition, the more I was stunned by the profundity and freedom of Liszt’s masterpiece.

At first, Liszt’s Sonata doesn’t appear to be easy to perceive. As a result, it is not that often performed in public. But once we start listening to the incredible richness of sound and the sheer beauty of its harmonies, there is literally no end to the discoveries.

In my introduction videos, I talk about the subject of transcendence and its mysterious connection to tempo. It is therefore no coincidence that the final recording of this cycle of the A Tempo Project ends with Liszt’s Sonata.

The recording venue is the newly renovated hall of the Stadtcasino Basel, which has wonderful acoustics. The instrument I used is a Bösendorfer VC280, which adds so much warmth and color to Liszt’s music.

I am proud of this recording and happy to be able to share it!

METROPOLIS: A Science Fiction Masterpiece

METROPOLIS by Fritz Lang (Germany, 1927) is one of the most iconic works from the Silent Film era. Director Fritz Lang set new standards in the field of film architecture, visual effects and cinematic narrative. The film had a turbulent history: drastically shortened, the original version of the film was long considered lost. But in 2008, after decades of searching for the lost parts, the “miracle” happened: A 16mm copy of the original 1927 version was unearthed in a Buenos Aires film archive. Since then, the film has been restored and made available in its entirety.

Metropolis is a masterpiece of the science fiction genre. The theme of different classes and artificial intelligence is as present today as it was in 1927. The acting and the scenery are breathtaking.

I am delighted to be able to accompany this great Silent Film live at the “Zürcher Orgeltage” and (twice) at the St. Galler Stummfilmkonzerte.

Zürcher Orgeltage (Zurich): Saturday, January 13, 2024. 7:00 pm. Church of St. Jakob am Stauffacher, Zurich. Website

St. Galler Stummfilmkonzerte: Thursday, January 18, 2024, and Friday, January 19, 2024, both at 19:00. Parish hall St. Georgen, St. Gallen. Website

Inauguration of the new Surround-Organ

On September 3, 2023, the long-awaited inauguration of the new Goll organ took place at the St. Laurenzen church in St. Gallen (Switzerland). For more than seven years me and my team had been working on this project. At the beginning of 2016, I developed the idea of a “surround organ” with four different pipe locations that together form a unique instrument that fills the entire church. Since then, the instrument had been planned in detail – in a fruitful and inspiring collaboration with Simon Hebeisen, CEO of the organ building company Goll in Lucerne.

For two weeks it seemed as if the entire city of St. Gallen was taken by the beauty and the excitement of the new organ. The inauguration included services, concerts, vespers and a lecture. Organists from abroad joined me and my colleagues in St. Gallen and made the festival varied and colorful. I am very grateful how warmly the new organ was received by the public. It was a wonderful celebration!

The website of the organ project allows a closer look at the instrument and offers a calendar for upcoming events (in German).

Photos by Klaus Stadler

Schubert A Tempo: Piano Sonata in C minor

For the first time within the A Tempo project I play and talk about the music of Franz Schubert. Unlike Beethoven or Chopin, Schubert is not a composer who is often discussed in terms of tempo. There are hardly any metronome markings for his works. In addition, there is not much precise information about the way he played his own works. Nevertheless, his music is predestined to be looked at with a special focus on tempo.

The Piano Sonata in C minor D958 is one of Schubert’s last piano works. The piece is like a symphony: dramatic, grand and profound. For my interpretation, I chose an unconventional approach: I explored the question of what tempo the piece would have – if it were a song. I talk about the background and the surprising result in my introductions.

The recording venue is the Cuvilliés Theater in the Munich Residence: a magnificent Rococo theatre that matches perfectly with Schubert’s imaginative Piano Sonata.

An innovative organ for St. Laurenzen

An innovative new organ is being built in the St. Laurenzen city church in St. Gallen (Switzerland). In addition to the existing organ from 1978, three new pipe divisions are being built on the three galleries of the church. The new divisions represent the three main families of pipes that each organ has: diapasons (west gallery), flutes (south gallery) and strings (north gallery). These will be combined with the existing organ to form an instrument that will fill the entire church space with sound.

Many names for the instrument have been found in the media: Surround organ, 3D organ, quadraphonic organ…. However, the most appropriate name would be “prism organ”. The organ will do acoustically what a prism does optically with the light of the sun: it disperses the overall sound into the individual “spectral sounds”.

I createt that concept seven years ago. Together with the organ builder we developed and consolidated the concept. The collaboration with Orgelbau Goll from Lucerne was and is immensely inspiring and fruitful. Thanks to the help of many people, the necessary funds could be raised. Now the instrument is actually being installed, and preparations for the inauguration in September 2023 are in full swing.

The website provides information and insight into this unique project (in German).

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Almost like a Prayer: Chopin’s Nocturne in G minor

Chopin wrote his Nocturne Op. 37 No. 1 in 1839. In the same year the Érard concert grand piano on which I play it, was built. Instrument and music come together in a unique symbiosis. The piece was one of the first works by Chopin that I learned as a young pianist. To this day, I love the chorale-like middle section with its incomparable atmosphere.

Recorded as an Encore to Beethoven A Tempo III at the La Prairie Cultural Center near Biel (Switzerland).

Becoming Liszt’s student: three Piano Sonatas by Beethoven

Volume VII of the A Tempo Project approaches the subject of tempo from a new angle. Following in the footsteps of the great Beethoven interpreter Franz Liszt, I present three Piano Sonatas by Beethoven. My renditions are inspired by instructions that Liszt gave in his masterclasses in Weimar in the 1880s. These masterclasses are well documented. It feels like joining the circle of Liszt’s students, as it were, through their very own eyes and ears! The interpretation thus follows neither a metronome number nor a documented duration, but takes purely musical aspects into account.

The center piece of Beethoven A Tempo III is the famous Moonlight Sonata in C-sharp minor. Liszt’s rendition of the piece was legendary in the 19th century. His pupil August Stradal hands down an astonishingly accurate account of what Liszt did in the spherical first movement, and also provides valuable information on the interpretation of the two following movements.

The equally famous Grande Sonate Pathétique in C minor is a wonderful example of how general musical aspects gleaned from the lore of Liszt’s Beethoven playing, can be applied to an actual interpretation.

Finally, in the Sonata Opus 90, it is a single and seemingly small cue that puts the tempo in a new light. This cue is the trigger for my entire interpretation of the lovely second movement.  Learn more on this in my introduction to the recording!

The three sonatas plus the German and English introduction are now published on my YouTube channel.

Playlist on YouTube


Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata Opus 106 in Liszt’s Duration

This is already the sixth part of the A Tempo Project, and it is all about one of the most famous works within the field of tempo research: Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Grosse Sonate für das Hammerklavier” in B flat major Opus 106. It is the only piano work by Beethoven for which Beethoven indicated metronome markings. These metronome markings were already in doubt in the 19th century. It is all the more significant that one of the most distinguished interpreters of the 19th century, Franz Liszt, gave an indication of the duration of the work in his own hand: “presqu’une heure” – almost an hour. That is more than twenty minutes (!) more than the duration resulting from Beethoven’s own metronome markings.

I wanted to explore this mystery, and I wanted to work out an interpretation that would reach Liszt’s duration. As a result, I studied the Sonata – in many ways one of the most complex works of the entire 19th century – for many years. 

I am grateful to be able to present the recording now. We recorded the sonata at the Tonhalle St. Gallen, and I was able to use a very special grand piano for it: A Bechstein concert grand from 1921, which was once built especially for the pianist Wilhelm Backhaus. The instrument is completely original and still represents the sound that Franz Liszt already knew and loved in his time. Thus, the recording is a tribute to Franz Liszt in sound and interpretation.

As always, the recording is accompanied by a German and English introduction. All my videos are available on my YouTube channel.

Link to the main film 
Link to the German introduction
Link to the English introduction

Liszt A Tempo II – Années de Pèlerinage. Deuxième Année: Italie

The second book of Franz Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage is entitled “Italie”. The seven piano pieces are among the most beautiful works by Liszt. The famous Dante Sonata is among them, as well as the three Petrarch Sonnets and the mystical “Il Penseroso.” All pieces have their inspiration in the art and poetry of the Italian Renaissance.

Within my A Tempo project, this recording occupies a special place. There are neither metronome markings nor documented durations: This is my “freestyle” in which I relied entirely on my musical intuition as an interpreter. The aspect of deceleration, which plays a great role in Liszt’s work, is omnipresent in these pieces. Thus “Il Penseroso” becomes a meditative experience of great power, and the Dante Sonata integrates details into its musical grandeur that would otherwise be lost.

The recording location comes close to the magic of the music: the baroque summer palace Belvedere in Weimar. The introductory videos were filmed at the Liszt House in Weimar, Liszt’s last place of residence.

All videos are now available on YouTube. There is also an attractive “Behind The Scenes” video that provides insight into the organization and the spectacular transport of the grand piano.

YouTube Playlist 
Introduction videos in German
Introduction videos in English
Tom R. Schulz in conversation with Bernhard Ruchti
Behind The Scenes