Matthew Hetz (b. 1957) is a native to Los Angeles where he still resides. His formal music studies began at age 16 with piano lessons, and composing has always been in the forefront. He began playing the violin in his 20s, and joined local orchestras, an experience of tremendous importance and influence for composing. His study of composition and music at California State University, Dominguez Hills in the 1980’s was at the height of atonality, with the dissolution of harmony as the accepted compositional practices.
Hetz has always been more attracted to the diatonic language of music, and tries to incorporate and mix traditional harmonic styles with the more prevalent modern styles, and this leads to a non-traditional harmonic language. He says he finds himself gravitating more and more towards diatonic harmonic foundations, though a bit skewered, and finds writing a melody as challenging as creating a tone-row.
Hetz believes classical musicians and composers need to be involved in the social and cultural issues of the times, and has compositions on the devastation on the COVID-19 pandemic, Nineteen Crowns for Violin/Viola/Viola; and Elegy for the Victims and Survivors of School Shootings for piano. There is also the Sarajevo Cellist for cello and piano based on the siege of Sarajevo where there was great destruction and horrible deaths, similar to today’s situation in Ukraine. During the Siege of Sarajevo, a cellist of the city, Vedran Smailović, would play between bombardments and shootings on the streets for the residents of the city. The work is my imagination of that horrible situation and of a man, a musician, rising above to help others through music. It was recorded by PARMA Recordings and performed by Trio Casals on MOTO ETERNO, with the outstanding Anna Kislitsyna on piano and Ovidiu Marinescu on cello.
Guy Rickards of Gramophone Magazine wrote, “evocation of a very different type occurs in the opening duo. Its driving momentum is gripping, making all the maddening that only the first movement is recorded here.” Jazz Mania shared their thoughts on the full Navona Records album, stating “it opens with the magnificent ‘Sarajevo Cellist’ by a certain Matthew Hetz who is unknown to me.”
Matthew Hetz was the president of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra and Marina del Rey Symphony — both in Southern California — for 16 years. Hetz considers himself an environmental and transit advocate, and with the existential threat of global warming, those two interests go hand-in-hand.
The recording of Concerto for Flute, Celesta, and Chamber Orchestra on DIMENSIONS VOL. 5 is dedicated to the memory of Frances Schumacher Hetz, the composer’s mom.