Ernst Pfiffner

6.12.1922 - 9.7.2011

Following completion of his 'Matura' studies in Disentis, Pfiffner studied philosophy and theology for several semesters (including in Fribourg). He studied music in Rome and in Basel (organ diploma under Eduard Müller). Between 1959 and 1994 he held numerous teaching posts in Basel and Lucerne. From 1950 until 1987 he was cantor, choirmaster and organist at St Michael's in Basel. Between 1960 and 1970 he was editor of the journal ‘Katholische Kirchenmusik’. From 1967 until 1987 he was director of the ‘Akademie für Schul- und Kirchenmusik, Luzern’ (Academy of School and Church Music in Lucerne). He has lived in Basel since 1948.

Ernst Pfiffner
St. Johanns-Ring 125
CH-4056 Basel
Fon: +41 (0)61 381 59 29



8 Gesänge nach Gedichten von Bettina Ruchti (2010)
for soprano and violin
Order No: 4323, sFr. 23.00
Texts: Bettina Ruchti

Trio (2010)
for oboe and two english horns
Order No: 4324, sFr. 26.00

"... et aperuit oculos.." (1973/74)
for bass, baritone, three tenors and instrumental ensemble (
Order No: 4301, sFr. 44.00
Text: Bible / Liturgy In this piece, the Latinate poetry of the blind born from the gospel according to John is set to music. In the first part, the wonderment of the event, in the second the interrogation and in the third the words of Jesus to the healed are set forth. The disciples in the first part and the Pharisees in the second are written for a group of three tenors (traditionally called ‘Turba’) who, according to the dramatical situation, speak, whisper or scream. Work series A: Music for concerts.

Componimento (1974/76)
for organ, strings (min. and four percussion instruments
Order No: 4302, sFr. 55.00
The title comes from Gottlieb Muffat’s (1690-1770) ‘Componimenti Musicale’. In this piece two rather contrasting movements are set against each other (chamber musical registration and ‘Pleno’ effects, combine agile percussion and string figuration with long held single notes with chords, strict structures with improvisatory elements, and various blends of organ and orchestral sound). Work series A: Music for concerts.
Listen: Youtube

Sinfonia (1978/81)
for orchestra (3(afl-g,pic).3(ca).3cl-a(bcl).3(cbn)/
Order No: 4303, sFr. 55.00
Movement order: "In Catene - in Fuga - In Scioglimento". In a self-explanatory way, the title and movement order show that the piece does not try to follow classical and romantic form, even if it makes use of a large orchestral setting. The movement titles are merely a starting point for the compositional process, not a programme. In the final movement a theme from a motet by Felice Anerio (1560-1614) is re-worked and a Gregorian melody incorporated. Work series A: Music for concerts.

Cambiamenti concertanti (1981/83)
for oboe, string orchestra ( and percussion
Order No: 4321, sFr. 44.00
The oboist plays the oboe d'amore in the movements I, III, IV; oboe in the movements II, V and the English horn in movement IV. Work series A: Music for concerts.
Listen: Youtube

Monologe über Frieden und Krieg (1983)
for voice and string quartet
Order No: 4322, sFr. 29.00
Texts: Dschang Dji, Andreas Gryphius, Hugo Ball, Li-Tai-Pe Work series A: Music for concerts.
Listen: Youtube

Biblische Szene (1989/91)
for high voice and orchestra (2.2(2obda).2.2/
Order No: 4305, sFr. 55.00
Text: Bible / Liturgy This piece is based on the story of the healing of the boy in Mark’s gospel. The voice assumes the roles of Jesus, the Father and a chronicler, by singing, whispering, speaking, and humming. Four timpani and nine other percussion instruments (two players) enlarge the classical strings and wind orchestra. There is a Gregorian credo motive and Beethoven's credo motive from the ‘Missa Solemnis’ In the final section. Work series A: Music for concerts.

Zachäus (1990)
for violoncello solo
Order No: 4319, sFr. 18.00
Work series A: Music for concerts.

Veni, veni, gaudium (1991)
for 2-8-part mixed choir
Order No: 4306, sFr. 26.00
Texts: Bibel / Liturgie This composition is based on the eternal and primordial concern with the Pentecostal Litany. A twelfth century melody together with poetry by Stephan Langton (also around 1200 AD) acts as a cantus firmus. The rhythm, declamation, voicing, orchestration, phrasing and expression of the piece is highly distinguished from the litany of the middle ages, from which the title has borrowed the first and last word. Work series A: Music for concerts.

"... da der Tod..." (1991/93)
for monophonic choir, alto, orator, flute, English horn, viola, violoncello and small percussion
Order No: 4309, sFr. 55.00
Text: Karl Mittlinger and W.A. Mozart Work series A: Music for concerts.

"... ahnten sie nicht" (1992)
for alto, flute, English horn, viola, violoncello, small percussion
Order No: 4310, sFr. 49.00
Text: Karl Mittlinger Work series A: Music for concerts.

Eine Kantilene vom Menschen (1992)
for choir, oboe, violoncello and percussion
Order No: 4308, sFr. 36.00
This piece is based on the poem 'Empfangen und genähret' (Received and Nourished) by Matthias Claudius together with extracts from the book Kohelet (300 BC). Despite being scored for three vocal and three instrumental parts, the fascinating phenomenon of monophony is kept throughout. Work series A: Music for concerts.

Trio sine nomine (1992)
for flute, viola and harp
Order No: 4307, sFr. 42.00
The title alludes deliberately to the custom of the 16th century, without revealing its associated theme.... The composer took another impulse from the tradition: the use of the modal method, particularly in view of one of the harp's peculiarities. Work series A: Music for concerts.

Trio pasquale (1993)
for flute, oboe and English horn
Order No: 4311, sFr. 34.00
Da der Tod - ...ahnten sie nicht - Trio pasquale: A variety of settings: the whole ensemble in the first part; in the second the choir and the speaker are omitted whilst the third part features flute, oboe, and English horn. The three pieces are a religious triptych, but they can be performed separately. The first two cycles set texts by the Graz writer Karl Mittlinger to music. In the first part, death is objectified in its many aspects whilst the last part sees the speaker narrate sentences from Mozart's letters to his father, in which he describes his attitude towards death. The middle piece is concerned with form, life and the mission of Jesus and closes with death and resurrection. The ‘Trio Pasquale’ is deals with Easter, as seen by Maria Magdalena. Work series A: Music for concerts.

Osterbuch (1994/96)
for soli (MezATBarB), choir and orchestra (2.2(2ca).2.2/
Order No: 4316, sFr. 88.00
Texts: Euripides, Karl Jaspers, Blaise Pascal, William Shakespeare, Bible / Liturgy Work series A: Music for concerts.

Sestetto d'Isissa (1995/96)
for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trombone and percussion
Order No: 4317, sFr. 31.00
Work series A: Music for concerts.

Miniature d'Umbria IV (Il cantico delle creature) (1996)
for viola solo
Order No: 4315, sFr. 21.00
Work series A: Music for concerts.

Terzettino per Thebas (1996)
for flute, viola and harp
Order No: 4318, sFr. 21.00
Work series A: Music for concerts.

Pfingstbuch (1996/97)
for six solo voices (SMezATBarB), speaking voice and chamber orchestra (1(pic,fl-g).1(ca).1.1/
Order No: 4320, sFr. 148.00
(Performance material available from 'Akademie für Schul- und Kirchenmusik Luzern.)
Texts from the Bible and eastern Liturgy; twelve single verses from Martin Gutl, Huub Oosterhujs, Nelly Sachs, Rabindranath Tagore; quotes from Helder Camara, Ernesto Cardenal, Johannes XXIII., Josef Quadflieg und J.M. Sailer. Wie? Pfingsten? die Gott verschlafen Verheissungen Als Pfingsten gekommen "Licht wird aus Sand" Geist - Heiliger GeistSchenk uns neue Begeisterung Work series A: Music for concerts.


Ernst Pfiffner
Ernst fiffner:
Cambiamenti concertanti
Monologe über Frieden und Krieg
Don Quijote
(Doherty, Reinmann, Rosenfeld, Anderes, Henking, Reinmann, Burkhard, u.a.; Serenata Basel; Basler Sinfonieorchester; Atzmon)

ProViva ISPV 170
SME/EMS Order Nr.: 191
Price CHF: 35.-

Ernst Pfiffner: Maranatha
Ernst Pfiffner:
Maranatha (Herr, komm doch!)
(Evangelische Singgemeinde, Berner Kantorei, Basler Münsterkantorei, Kantorei Predigern Zürich, Collegium Vovale, Collegium Musicum; Klaus Knall)

Fono-Gesellschaft Luzern FGLS CD 4728
SME/EMS Order Nr.: 132
Price CHF: 30.-

Ernst Pfiffner
Ernst Pfiffner:
Fünf geistliche Gesänge
Motetten Nr. 9/10 aus "Maranatha"
Die biblische Szene von der gekrümmten Frau
... Et aperuit oculos...
(Kurth; Schneeberger; Holliger u.a.; Evangelische Singgemeinde; Orchestre de la Suisse Romande)

Musiques Suisses MGB CTS-M 47
SME/EMS Order Nr.: 68
Price CHF: 30.-

Further Discs:
CD Proviva ISPV 170: Componimento, Monologe, Cambiamenti
CD Pan 510 071: Eine Kantilene vom Menschen
CD pmp 125-2: Trio pasquale, Miniature d'Umbria I

Schweizer Musik - Home
Musique Suisse - Home
Swiss Music - Home

automatically generated. last update: 28.08.2015 / 2004 Theo Lustenberger