Max Richter: Sleep

In a monumental, eight-hour live stream from the Elbphilharmonie, the artist presents his own personal lullaby and accompanies the listener through the cycles of sleep.

With his 2015 project »Sleep«, Max Richter created something akin to a modern version of Bach's Goldberg Variations. Just as the Bach composition is said to have once kept a sleepless count entertained during the night, »Sleep« pursues a similar goal: it accompanies us in the hours of sleep – from beginning to end! The score lasts no less than eight-and-a-half hours, and its 31 sections are modelled around the typical cycles of our sleep, inviting the listener to dream with their slow and contemplative music. And yes, you can sleep while the music plays!

Trailer: Max Richter »Sleep«

On its first broadcast on BBC Radio 3, »Sleep« broke not one but two Guinness records: it was the longest work ever to be broadcast, and also the longest ever live broadcast on radio. Richter's composition invites us to pause for a moment, to consciously experience peace and quiet – and this was long before issues like mindfulness and meditation became mass phenomena. The composer wants his listeners to sense its aura while sleeping and dreaming. »Sleep« has already been performed in Berlin, Paris, Sydney and Los Angeles as an eight-hour night-time concert, and is available via app in the meantime.

Shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic, over Easter weekend 2020, the BBC and the European Broadcasting Union brought the project one more time to hundreds of thousands of radio listeners in more than 15 countries. Richter's work is now being broadcast from the Elbphilharmonie only as an online live stream to mark the beginning of the »Reflektor« weekend.

Live stream from 7 October – now available as video on demand

The world's longest lullaby: streamed live from the Elbphilharmonie's Kaistudio.

The artists

American Contemporary Music Ensemble
Ben Russell violin
Laura Lutzke violin
Caleb Burhans viola
Clarice Jensen violoncello
Emily Brausa violoncello

Grace Davidson soprano
Max Richter piano, live electronics

Florian Kiehl set design
Jasper Techel director of photography
Onn Halpern creative director
Liel Simon director

Max Richter

Max Richter
Max Richter © Yulia Mahr
  • About Max Richter

    Max Richter was born in 1966 in the north German town of Hameln, but he grew up in Bedford, east of London. Music already played a large role in his childhood: »I already had music in my head as a small child. It was always there – music is my basic state. Composing seems to me to be an involuntary act, in the sense that I never don't compose. For me composing means paying deliberate attention to something that is already there.«

    Richter studied piano and composition at Edinburgh University and at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1986 he co-founded the group Piano Circus, with which he performed music by Steve Reich, Philip Glass und Arvo Pärt, as well as his own works.  1996 saw the beginning of his cooperation with the experimental dance band The Future Sound of London, while 2002 started with the album »Memoryhouse«, which he recorded together with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and which was later used as the soundtrack for the documentary »Auschwitz – the Nazis and the Final Solution«; this marked the beginning of his solo career. It was followed by other soundtracks, e.g. for films by Martin Scorsese and André Téchiné. In 2012 his first own album was released on Deutsche Grammophon: »Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons«. This successful cooperation led Max Richter to sign an exclusive contract with the yellow label in March 2014.

    At the end of June 2020 Max Richter became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, best-known for presenting the Academy Awards, popularly known as »Oscars«. The Academy's true purpose is to support the development of the film industry by promoting research and encouraging cultural, educational and technological progress.

Grace Davidson – Soprano

Grace Davidson
Grace Davidson © Unbezeichnet
  • About Grace Davidson

    English soprano Grace Davidson specialises first and foremost in performing and recording Baroque music. She studied voice at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and has since worked with today's leading Baroque ensembles and with such well-known conductors as Sir John Eliot Gardner, Paul McCreesh and Harry Christophers. Her discography includes recordings with the ensemble The Sixteen as well as the Fauré Requiem with the London Symphony Orchestra, released on the LSO's own label.

    Thanks to her technical brilliance, impressive musicality and exceptional purity of tone, Grace Davidson is also successful in the fields of film music and contemporary music. Her remarkable cooperation with Max Richter is documented among other things by recordings of »Sleep« and »Woolf Works« on Deutsche Grammophon.

American Contemporary Music Ensemble

American Contemporary Music Ensemble
American Contemporary Music Ensemble © Mark Shelby Perry
  • About the American Contemporary Music Ensemble

    A finger always on the pulse of the times: the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) has dedicated itself entirely to contemporary music. Together with the cellist and artistic director Clarice Jensen, the musical collective has climbed up to the first league of the contemporary-music scene thanks to a mixture of meticulous musicality, artistic vision and committed cooperations. The ensemble has been invited to appear on major international concert platforms such as New York's Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Melbourne Recital Centre. The New York-based New Music specialists are also an integral feature of European music festivals. At the instigation of Max Richter, with whom they have a close artistic partnership, the ensemble now makes its Elbphilharmonie debut as part of the »Reflektor« festival.

    In addition to their concert projects, the members of the ensemble are always looking for new formats, and come together regularly not only with composers, but also with film-makers and modern dance companies. The ACME helps contemporary music to win increasing popularity with its work – not without reason did a New York critic describe it as »New Music's most promising indie band«.

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Elbphilharmonie Talk with Max Richter

An interview with the world-famous composer.

Wanderer between the worlds

Max Richter’s music electrifies classical-music lovers and pop fans alike. Together with his partner Yulia Mahr, he is putting on a long »Reflektor« weekend at the Elbphilharmonie.