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"... the Highlight of the evening was "from the ashes", a musical poem on the phoenix - myth in eight parts.  With this work of 45 min duration, Helena Winkelman created a true masterpiece. Its premiere, given by the ensemble Phoenix was received with much enthusiasm. "

Basler Zeitung, 3. Juli 2006

"... regardless of a dangerous multitude of elements, their integration was achieved. Shawms, blowing renaissance music, episodes in the percussion that came straight from rock music, impressionist colors from the piano and Mozart - quotes from a portable telephone (to just mention a few) were brought together to become an organic musical fusion."

Stephan Thomas, Südostschweiz

"... her first orchestra work, "Vers l'ouvert" (towards the open) was very impressive because ot its mature balance of instrumentation and its convincing dramaturgy. Whirring expanses of sound rose up and suggested with their gentle atonality a great  inner landscape. They led the imagination of the listener deep into a mountain forest where raindrops transformed into goblins and everyting seemed to disappear in a spooky undertow. " b

Stephan Thomas, Südostschweiz, April 2008

 Photo: Pilvax & Oberyn

Curriculum Vitae

Helena Winkelman - *27.February 1974 - was born into a musical family, her father being a Dutch/Italian flutist, her mother a Swiss harpsichord player.

She showed an exceptional musical talent very early and was educated accordingly. Having won national and international violin competitions at a young age, over the last years she has become a composer with an own distinct voice.

Her interest in jazz and renaissance music had her start composing in a postmodernist way, using different styles of music and switching procedures to create an extremely vital music full of humor and irony, concealing effectively the semantic abysses hiding beneath. (Herrgott und Teufel, 2001, an ensemble work of 33 minutes on the longest German anagram by Thomas Brunnschweiler is a good example).

Her interest in literature, psychology and philosophy do have a huge impact on her writing. Much of her music therefore is based on texts: She used for example the last song of Paradise from Dante Alighieri's Divina Commedia in a 45 minute work for vocal ensemble and three instruments: Canto 33. Her Alphorn concerto is based on an old Romanian Myth "Miorita" (the lamb) and for the Zeitkunst Festival 2011 in Berlin (Radialsystem) and Paris (centre Pompidou) she was putting poems of Tal Nitzan, Johanna Arp, Friederike Mayröcker and Irène Gayraud into music. Also the poems of Ungaretti have been a great source of inspiration for many of her works.

Her discovery of spectralism in works by Gerard Grisey, Georg Friedrich Haas and George Benjamin has fuelled the tireless artistic reinvention of forms and sounds she chooses to work with. "From the Ashes for Ensemble", the Impromptu for piano solo and Stasera for Trombone and piano are good examples. Her love for the spectral sound is also the reason she writes for harp in overtone - tuning. This can be heard in works like "Traumdeutung", Vestibula and Canto 33.

For some years during her studies she worked with the renowned Swiss folk musician Noldi Alder. Since then the influences of this tradition can be heard in her music - particularly in works like Fremdländler, Chill't horn and the Alphorn concerto.

Helena Winkelman has received commissions from the Harvard Musical Association, Boston; the International Music Festival Davos (Crédit Suisse), Switzerland; the Music Academy of Basel, the Sinfonietta Basel, the concert series ?Ö? in Chur, the International Society for Contemporary Music Basle, the IMS Prussia Cove, Cornwall, England; the Lucerne Festival, the Münchener chamber orchestra, the Kammerorchester Basel and many soloists like Hansheinz Schneeberger, Thomas Demenga, Dana Ciocarlie, and others.

Her Compositions have been performed by the Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Phoenix Basel, Musikfabrik Köln, William Bennett, the Faust Quartet and the Camerata Variabile Basel, her own chamber ensemble.

For her compositions she recieved a grant by KulturRaumSchaffhausen in 2003 and 2007.

Since 1998 she lives and works as a freelance violinist and composer in Basel, Switzerland. In 2008 -2009 she was for one year in London to compose exclusively - made possible by a grant from the foundation Landis & Gyr. For the winter semester 2012 she received a working space in Berlin from the Kanton Schaffhausen.


Helena Winkelman started to compose on a regular basis during a year of study in New York in 1997. Encounters with composer Dr. Philip Lasser (who still holds the teachings of the french Boulanger - school) and Stanley Wolfe were of much importance during this time. Back in Switzerland she studied composition at the Music Academy Basle with Roland Moser (2003- 2007 Diploma) and Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas. (2007-2008) Other musicians and composers with a great influence on her development were: percussionist and composer Pierre Favre with whom she studied for two years in Lucerne, composer György Kurtag whose masterclasses she visited on many occasions and Swiss violinist Hansheinz Schneeberger.

© 2023 Helena Winkelman, crafted by bitwave