Biography / Vita

Matthias Dahms – Son of Berlin

The powerhouse of European civilization: Berlin

Over the past centuries, Berlin has been the source city for Europe’s great changes on politics, culture and art. Berliners have always had their own manner looking at things.

Berlin had been the capital for Prussian dynasty in 18C and 19C, the King of Prussia built up the paramount Museum Island that is still astonishing even today; at the critical moment while the whole Europe was struggling from old court regimes to new republic societies, Berlin had been the asylum for European intellectuals. Berlin experienced the two World Wars as well as the split and the reunion of East & West Germany, and now stands for Germany’s capital.

Berlin as such, is the very birth place of German musician, Matthias Dahms. Whenever being asked about the influence of his growing background, Matthias winks his eyes and says: “A city like Berlin leads us to believe, every matter underneath the stars ought to be liberated.”

Yes, in Berlin, multiple cultures converse, sophisticated political history goes on, fabulous art assets shine in the night, numberless concerts singing through. Berliners inherit a firm worldwide scope and free spirit.

Precocious Sensibility

Matthias started playing piano while he was little, yet without too much passion. Some years later his parents, who knew what he was really longing for, sent Matthias to drum classes and ever since changed his life. Soon Matthias adopted other percussive instruments lessons, i.e. vibraphone and marimba, along with amazing progress.

Long before he became a musician, Matthias Dahms showed an extraordinary sensibility. During this time, he kept on acquiring private lessons. In 1984 he broke the school record in the entrance exam and was enrolled by National University of Music Karlsruhe (Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe).

The private lessons with American vibraphone specialist David Friedman continued for three years and after receiving the diploma from Karlsruhe, Matthias returned to Berlin and continued his studies at the University of the Arts in Berlin (Universität der Künste Berlin/UdKB). By that time, Matthias had already started his international career as a soloist.

Meditations upon Playing

In terms of playing instruments, Matthias made adventurous and exceptional experiments. 1987 he played with the famous Circus Krone in Europe, 1990 he became a member of the “New Chamber Orchestra Berlin” conducted by Christoph Hagel and had many other TV/radio performances with several orchestras and ensembles.

“Performance is a process of imagination, when you can no longer obtain inspiration from playing, it says the playing is dead,” Matthias puts playing this way. This also explains why he ceased playing as an orchestra musician but became a soloist. Without any loud backing from an orchestra, a soloist’s emotions, techniques and quality are exposed to the audience and the critics:

“Stars and angels – extraordinary sense for moods and colors“ (Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung);

“…totally blessing …not just astonishing, but engaging – that attractive and spherical…“ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung);

“That night, the audience was carried away by German percussionist Matthias Dahms’ music” (Ming-Shen News, Taiwan, R.O.C.);

“Dreamland of sounds and pictures“ (Die Rheinpfalz);

”Fascinating variety of Tango and Blues“ (Die Rheinpfalz);

“Rhythmical percussionism together with classical dream, Matthias Dahms created a music that conquers all. ” (United Daily News, Taiwan).

Accurate rhythms provide the excellent infrastructure in his music, on those pieces with 4-mallets performance, each note falls so fast and sure that it forms a motion picture in a frame. After the third Movement of Bach’s violin concerto No. 1 in A minor, Matthias won a standing ovation for 9 minutes in Michelstadt grand church, because the audience witnessed how beautifully Matthias drew a Bach night with his vibraphone.

As mentioned above, Matthias listens to imagination during playing, and imagination is based on affectionate heart and open mind, his melody pours forth a fairytale clarity.

The transparency within Matthias’ music spreads infinite meditative particles into the air, as if we were seeing through the transparent model of an architecture. Whenever it comes to this moment, we are tempted to ruminate and reflect life over and over.

A Fully Musical Being

As a fully musical being, Matthias Dahms published more than 60 compositions and a variety of drumbooks and study kits, he performed at the Festival of Electronic Music Berlin, worked in the field of visual art and multimedia, composed soundtracks for German TV series Feuerbach as well as for the documentary about Mid-Taiwan Cultural Circle, he was part of Forum Neue Musik Berlin Ensemble and Berlin Improvising Composers Ensemble, his music …, CDs … etc. From each fragment of Matthias’ development, we understand that he is based on a whole-life framework to build a musical panorama.

These years, besides concerts schedule, Matthias has been guest lecturer for Mannheim University of Music and a lecturer in international workshops and master classes.

(Jia-Chen Liu)