Our regular listen to and look at living, breathing composers and performers that you may not know yet, but I know you should… And can, right here and now, with so much good listening online.
Time to leave our standard classical composers and performers behind for a second, to hear what the writers can do:
Liesl Ujvary (1939-, Pressburg/Slovakia) moved to Austria in 1945 and spent her childhood in Lower Austria and Tyrol. She studied Slavonic, old-Hebrew literature and art history in Vienna and Zurich. After some visits in Moscow she finished her dissertation on Ilja Ehrenburg’s ‘Julio Jurenito’ at the University in Zurich in 1968. She held a university teaching position for Russian language and literature at the Sophia University in Tokyo, and lives as a writer in Vienna since 1971.
Ann Cotten (1982-) was born in Iowa, but her family moved to Austria when she was five. After growing up in Vienna, she just moved to Berlin last year, having stirred up a raft of critical attention with her first book of poetry, Fremdwörterbuchsonette (“Foreign Dictionary Sonnets”). The Frankfurter Rundschau interviewed her recently, and an English version of that article can be read at Sign and Sight.
Hanno Millesi (1966-, Vienna) studied art history in Vienna and Graz. From 1986-1992 he worked with Galerie Krinzinger in Vienna; from 1992 to 1999 assisted Hermann Nitsch’s “Orgien Mysterien Theaters”; 1999-2001 hung out at the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien; all the while working at his own writing (as well as his guitar, in the band ALBERS).
— OK, preliminaries out of the way, why tell you about these three Austrian writers on our trusty new-music site? Because among Ujvary’s kalideoscopic interests and activities is music and sound art, which for the last ten-plus years she’s been broadcasting on radio and issuing on CD. The link on her name above will take you to her main website; from there the “musik” button will send you to a whole compendium of these, most available as free MP3 downloads as well as standard CDs. But clicking the other link above this post will take you directly to the 2005 CD Ghostengine – Sprechen ohne Sprach (“speech without language”). In this essay Ujvary, Cotten and Millesi all interact with an Etherwave theremin, trying to create a a kind of intuitive, wordless “speech”. Ujvary also processes this using a Kaoss pad — a wonderfully fun device from Korg, that lets you control all kinds of processing in realtime, with a few movements of your fingers. Interleaved between the solo “speeches” are four mixes by Ujvary, where she combines, varies and elaborates the three solos.
Mahler it most certainly is NOT; but it is a wonderful soundscape, that somehow captures a bit of each of its collaborators.