Matthias Ronnefeld succeeded not only in finding a compositional path, but also in developing his own clear voice in the labyrinthine soundscape of musical modernism. Ronnefeld was born in Vienna in 1959 and grew up in a cosmopolitan artistic milieu as the son of the German-Austrian conductor and composer Peter Ronnefeld (1935-65) and the Danish pianist and music teacher Minna Ronnefeld (b. 1931).
Ronnefeld, who was an Austrian citizen until the age of 18, and then Danish, had his first musical training at the age of seven from Alice Harnoncourt in Vienna (violin) and his mother (piano). In 1969-78 he lived in Copenhagen, where he concluded his schooling with his university entrance exam from Det fri Gymnasium. At the same time he continued his music studies with among others Egil Harder and Herman D. Koppel (piano), Finn Høffding and Per Nørgård (music theory and composition). In 1978-82 Ronnefeld studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg, where his main teachers in composition were Günther Friedrichs and György Ligeti.
It is hardly an exaggeration to call Ronnefeld one of the most gifted composers of his generation. At an early age he aroused attention with an unusual talent of amazing artistic maturity with a craftsmanship that easily gave voice to his youthful, undogmatically radical nature. There are many compositional subtleties in his music, but they are never ends in themselves. Wistfulness, longing, grotesque humour and thrilling sensuality are the strongest enzymes in the tragically brief life’s work of this passionate intellect.
Ronnefeld’s catalogue is not long. It comprises 12 opus-numbered works, of which opus 11 is an unfinished orchestral work commissioned by Norddeutscher Rundfunk, and his swansong, the unnumbered piano work Veni, Creator Spiritus of 1986. Most of the pieces were related to his work in and with the ensemble Moments Musicaux.
Matthias Ronnefeld died on 29.10.1986 in Hamburg, 27 years old. Since his earliest childhood he had suffered from severe diabetes.
Excerpts from article by Sven Erik Werner