Hanspeter Kyburz was granted the third Roche Commissions award in 2005. His composition, “touché”, had its world premiere in Lucerne on September 2, 2006.
Hanspeter Kyburz, born to Swiss parents in Lagos (Nigeria) in 1960, is one of the most gifted and best-known of Switzerland’s middle generation of composers. His work is performed by pre-eminent ensembles at all major festivals. With his analytical philosopher's mind and outstanding gifts as a composer he has produced a succession of exciting and sensuously gripping musical works. For Roche Commissions, Hanspeter Kyburz was able to realise a long-cherished dream of composing a work for voices and orchestra.
When in 2005 Hanspeter Kyburz received the third Roche Commissions he also visited Roche in Basel. It was at the occasion of this visit that he engaged in intense discussions with scientists. The following text is a heavily abridged version of a conversation between Hanspeter Kyburz, his wife and librettist Sabine Marienberg, René Imhof, then Head Pharma Research Basel, and Klaus Müller, then Head Pharma Science and Technology Relations, which took place in Basel on 16 May, 2006.
An excerpt from the conversation:
Hanspeter Kyburz: What form is used to present the activities of scientists rather than their findings? How can a scientist of today display his individual style – that is, the way he researches, the operative level – in a dialogue, in consensus with others?
Sabine Marienberg: Can you explain how you conduct your research and not what you want to study?
René Imhof: Klaus Müller and I were both involved in basic research, which is far less fenced in than the applied research of a healthcare company. When we confront a basic problem, at first there’s no visible or foreseeable solution. In such situations we seek a dialogue with other scientists. You have to cross the boundaries of your discipline to illuminate the problem from all sides and to get an idea of where potential solutions might lie before you find your own path.
Hanspeter Kyburz: You say “potential solutions”. That means you’ve already clearly identified a problem. The change of perspective now makes it sound as if the problem is insoluble within the confines of one perspective and you hope to solve it with additional information from other perspectives...
Klaus Müller: Allow me to add a few words. No problem is defined in every aspect at first. We merely sense that there has to be a solution, but we don’t have the tools to find it, although they exist. Talking to colleagues from other disciplines can make an object suddenly appear in a different light; other elements join in, and in time things begin to solidify, although we’re not specifically aware that we want them to solidify. They solidify on their own. And suddenly you have a feeling, “This is where I have to pitch in”. My best innovations, discoveries, and inventions at Roche arose from working together with physicists, biologists, and creative chemists who thought differently from me.
Hanspeter Kyburz: Is this restructuring of your own topic through a different perspective plannable in advance?