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Barbara Arens – passionate pedagogical composer

Barbara Arens

Composer, pianist and piano teacher



1960 – born as Barbara Hook in Beirut, Lebanon (father was an international lawyer)

1965 – first piano & flute lessons in Hillsborough, California

1972 – 2nd flute in the Singapore National Youth Orchestra

1973 – Outstanding Musician Award

1973 – at 13 accepted as a full student at the Mozarteum, Salzburg in Harpsichord and Flute as well as Baroque Performance Practice with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Later also Organ under Prof.Alois Forer.

1978 - 2nd Organist at Salzburg Cathedral, accompanist of the Salzburg Domspatzen (Boys’ Choir)

1979 – Scandinavia tour with Dan Laurin, recorder & Erika Ebbe, violin. Harpsichord Masterclass with Gustav Leonhardt

1980 – attended Christie’s Fine Arts Course in London

1981- Harpsichordist of the Trio Boismortier, later also of the Baroque Ensemble Munich, Baroque Orchestra of Munich, Bach Society Salzburg, L‘Arpe Festante,etc. giving solo concerts, LP and radio recordings, etc. At the same time teaching a large studio of harpsichord and piano pupils

1989 – marriage with Ludger Arens, teacher of Latin & Ancient Greek at the Benedictine High School of Münsterschwarzach. Having “said what I wanted to say” on the harpsichord, I returned to the piano with renewed enthusiasm. Taught piano at my husband’s school.

2002 – began tours of schools with the concert series “Classics for Kids” and noticed that my own pieces were particularily popular with the young people, inspiring me to write more. Continuing to teach piano.

2008 - started composing a collection of pieces specifically to be published which appeared in

2013 - as “One Hand Piano” published by Breitkopf & Härtel

2014 - “21 Amazingly Easy Pieces” - Breitkopf & Härtel

2015 - “Piano Misterioso” - Breitkopf & Härtel

2015 - “Piano Celtico” with Elena Cobb

2016 - “Rendezvous with Midnight – 12+1 Nocturnes for Teens” - Editions Musica Ferrum 2016 - “Piano Vivace/Piano Tranquillo” - Breitkopf & Härtel

2016 - “Capturing the Spirit of Christmas” in collaboration with Alison Mathews, - Editions Musica Ferrum ( =EMF, with EPTA event to launch the book)

2017 - “All Beautiful & Splendid Things - 12+1 Piano Songs on Poems by Women” - EMF

2017 - “A Scottish Collection” - Spartan Press

2017 - “Piano Exotico” - Breitkopf & Härtel

2017 – Trinity College London includes two of my pieces in their Grade 3 and 4 Syllabus

2017 – London College of Music includes a pieces of mine in their Grade 1 Syllabus

2017 - “Capturing the Spirit of Winter” in collaboration with Alison Mathews, - EMF

2018 - “ Mosaic vol.1” , “Mosaic vol.2” Anthology Project - EMF

2018 – “Fast & Furioso – 13 fast & furious piano pieces” , “The Herakles Challenge – 12 Epic tasks for Piano based on Greek Mythology” , “Grand Piano – a Potpourri of 7 Piano Pieces”, “Chubby Hippo & Friends – 10 Really Easy Piano Pieces with Really Silly Lyrics”, “Dreaming at the Piano – 12 musing, meditative pieces for intermediate piano” self published at Amazon

2018 - “The More The Merrier – 13 Duets for Piano 4-hands & everybody else...” - Spartan

2018 – “Small Hand Piano- 40 Pieces without an Octave” – Breitkopf & Härtel

2019 – RIAM includes 2 pieces from “Chubby Hippo & Friends” in their Piano Syllabus



What does music mean to you personally?

It’s as important to me - and as omnipresent - as the air I breathe.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy? Do you mean imagination?

No – music can spark the imagination, but it can also be intellectually challenging or satisfying, or purely, non-rationally emotional.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

Something to do with the graphic arts or with history, probably.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

When I go to the Frankfurt Expo, I’m thrilled to see the crowds of young people there, who are willing to pay the entrance fee simply because music means so much to them. Their music generally isn’t my music – but that’s fine. I see with lots of my piano pupils: after ONLY wanting to play stuff from the charts, they develop musically to the point where they ONLY want to play classics! So I’m optimistic that many of these young people, if they’re given the chance, might “convert” to classical music...

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

Mood-setter: every computer game, every film needs its appropriate music to set the atmosphere. Every spotifier has playlists for evoking the desired mood.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

This depends: a highly competent second violin in a symphony orchestra doesn’t really need to be creative. We keyboard people can and should bring creativity into our teaching and accompanying. As a composer, of course, I hope I’m being 100% creative, though I’m building very much on the traditions that have given music its fundament.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

I used to give lecture concerts in schools here in the German countryside, giving the children a chance to see that classical music doesn’t have to be elitist and/or dull, but expressive and fun. I was brought up on Leonard Bernstein’s wonderful Young People’s Concerts, so I’ve experienced how effective this can be!

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favourite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

I‘ll take “Ophelia” from “All the World‘s a Stage – 13 Shakespeare Characters for Solo Piano”. First I re-read Hamlet , and was again struck by how, when Ophelia loses her mind, she always refers to flowers – and death. I took a few of her lines and set them to music – so I had my main theme, which I then developed in various ways, mostly in modal minor, changing keys for new colours, putting the theme in the middle voice with a death-knell on top, and ending with some very sad lines...

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Try to hear some “big”music live! A full symphony orchestra playing Brahms or Beethoven or Stravinsky; an organ concert in a cathedral. Try playing some classics yourself and see how incredibly expressive they can be!

Do you think about the audience when composing?

To a great extent I’m thinking more of the performer. I take this as my major challenge as a mainly pedagogical composer: to say what I want to say in a way that is maximally playable for the non-professional musician.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

Lots of chamber music! Flute + Piano, Clarinet + Piano, Cello + Piano. Further pieces for One Hand piano. And yes – I‘m constantly experimenting!