Between test tubes and musical scores

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FAU alumnus Uwe Strübing and his melody for FAU

From starting out as a lab technician at the Institute of Pharmacy to becoming a sought after composer in the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region: FAU alumnus Uwe Strübing strikes a chord between pharmacy and music. He studied Biology and Pharmacy in Erlangen between 1976 and 1982. Along with his academic and professional career as a hospital pharmacist, Strübing has never forgotten his second passion, which is music. He has since composed a large number of short pieces for piano and large orchestral works, including an elaborate cantata to mark the 275th anniversary of FAU.

From pharmacy to music

Strübing has been interested in music from an early age. He has been writing down all the melodies that come to him in his head since he was 10 years old. “My early efforts were well received, but the extremely theoretical nature of the subject, especially composition, put me off.” For this reason, Strübing enrolled at FAU after completing his military service in 1976. At first, he studied biology, but then switched to pharmacy after three semesters and completed his degree in 1982. He then started working in various public pharmacies, since 1989 as a hospital pharmacist. He has a high regard for the “sound pharmaceutical training” he received at FAU in the recently renovated facilities at the institute.

However, he kept his love of music. In 1984 and following the advice of his father-in-law and his then pharmacy boss, he therefore began studying composition at the Nuremberg School of Music. “Both occupations give me a great sense of fulfillment, even today.” Of course, he still wants to pursue both his passions, even if he has to separate his time between the two. Whereas once he composed music mainly on holiday, he can now spend more time composing as he is now retired.

“I benefited from the excellent education of my alma mater 40 years ago, and have now been able to give something back with my contribution to the anniversary celebrations.”

Between piano and computer, he composes his music intuitively, emphasizing: “The unconscious, fluidity and transitions are part of my music.” He has composed numerous pieces of chamber music, symphonies, piano sonatas as well as commissioned pieces for choir and orchestra over the years. A highlight of Strübing’s career as a musician was composing the cantata “Wahrheit und Liebe” (“truth and love”) to mark the 275th anniversary of FAU. After a period of close collaboration with University Director of Music, Prof. Dr. Konrad Klek, the premier took place with the University Orchestra, Academic Choir and soloists in St. Matthäus church in Erlangen in 2018.

Strübing’s time at FAU

Photo: privat

FAU alumnus Strübing was not only happy to receive this commission, but also extremely grateful: “I benefited from the excellent education of my alma mater 40 years ago, and have now been able to give something back with my contribution to the anniversary celebrations.” When looking back on his time at FAU, he remembers the laboratory at the Institute of Pharmacy in Schuhstrasse that had been recently renovated. He spent many hours there during his degree. The time he spent at the academic and musical fraternity Fridericiana was also valuable for Strübing in retrospect, since this is where he met his wife and he is still in touch with some of the members there.

Networks are the key

Contact with musicians who enjoy spending time on stage is decisive for composers and their work – irrespective of whether this is in person or via digital networks, says Strübing. “Composers, in particular, usually work alone.” This means the composer, who lives in Fürth, is all the more pleased about the recognition he has received from people such as FAU Professor Kleck or ensembles from the region such as the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra. Strübing has not only received commissions from FAU in the past, however. For example, the cabaret opera “Zum Goldenen Giger” was composed by Strübing in 2020 in collaboration with Prof. Lucius Hemmer, managing and artistic director of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra.

“Most of my fellow students have stayed in retail pharmacies and some joined the pharmaceutical industry.”

When new tunes for operas, song cycles or choral works are buzzing around inside Strübing’s head, he usually starts composing with a handwritten sketch at the piano. He then uses a music notation program to develop his works on the computer step by step. While he is currently working on his 10th symphony, he still likes to attend the “Chamber music concerts of the University Music Group at the Wassersaal in the Orangerie and, of course, the concerts of the University Orchestra” as often as possible. And when he’s not sitting in concert halls, he likes to listen to classical or New Music – how could it be anything else?


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