Mark Barden is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (USA), where he studied composition under Lewis Nielson and piano performance under Monique Duphil. His teachers include Rebecca Saunders, Mathias Spahlinger, Brice Pauset, and Jörg Widmann. He has had additional lessons and masterclasses with Brian Ferneyhough, Chaya Czernowin, Beat Furrer, Toshio Hosokawa, and Helmut Lachenmann.

Barden’s works have been performed at the Darmstadt Summer Courses, the Donaueschinger MusikTage, the Klangwerkstatt Festival (Berlin), ZKM Karlsruhe, Haus am Dom (Frankfurt), Akademie Schloss Solitude, and the 100° Theatre Festival (Sophiensaele Berlin) as well as in experimental venues like scherer8 galerie and eigenreich Theatrehaus. As a solo pianist, he has performed in New York, London, Berlin, and Cleveland in addition to joining Ensemble Contrechamps as a guest at the TransArt Festival (Rovereto) and Klangspuren Festival (Innsbruck).

He is currently a Master’s candidate at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, where he is a fellow of the Oscar and Vera-Ritter Foundation.

die Haut Anderer (2008), for e.h. [English title: the skin of others (2008), for e.h.]
for solo and optional video playback
Music and video: Mark Barden

Two words are written on paper in pencil, again and again. Once the page is full, the hand begins again at the top, overwriting the same text with itself. Again and again. Individual strokes combine to form intricate black masses of various shapes and densities. Much of the text disappears, swallowed by the encroaching darkness. The original words(?): Herzensschatzi komm. (English: Come, darling)

During her treatment at the Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic from May to August 1909, the patient Emma Hauck wrote several letters in this way. These messages, addressed to her husband but never delivered, can be seen today in the famous Prinzhorn Collection in Heidelberg.

This musical work does not attempt to glorify madness or merely lament one instance of human suffering. To do so would not only be banal, but would fringe on exploiting Hauck’s anguish. Instead, her individual experience is used as a means of more closely examining a more universal experience: craving. It aims to transcend obsessive repetition using obsessive repetition itself in order to reveal something fundamental to the forces that drive our need to yearn.