Ear witnesses wanted!

Episode 2: The noise refugee (Ulrich Holbein) / Episode 3: Where am I when I listen to music? (Peter Sloterdijk) - Two Portraits of Contemporary Music Listeners

Many clever people have racked their brains over the composer Luigi Nono. Roughly speaking, his work is divided into three phases. First, the young composer who caused a sensation in Darmstadt in the 1950s because he ignored some of the basic rules of serial composition, the octave prohibition, the prohibition of repetition, and subordinated them to his elegiac will to express himself. Then there is the long period of politically motivated works that declare solidarity with the working class, the victims of war, fascism and injustice - and finally, until his death on 8 May 1990, the seemingly apolitical, poetic phase, with very quiet, meditative compositions that hardly move from the spot in slow motion, interspersed with eternal pauses.
What these clever minds have brought to light that is worth knowing, how Nono's late work casts his early work in a different light, and why the sobering slowness, the sound of silence of his last compositions are by no means to be understood as a turning away from the political commitment of the 60s and 70s, on the contrary, even as its radicalisation, that is not what we are to deal with in this programme, at most only in passing.

Prof Jaeggi:
J: You have to keep fading in, saying I don't understand any of this. (laughs)

It is not the question of what Luigi Nono had in mind with his works, in which aesthetic traditions he stands, what significance is attributed to him in the European music history of the 20th century, nor should we be interested this time in the question of why which interpreters got a better grip on which fermatas, which bowing technique, which harmonics.
As you know, dear listeners, music-making involves at least three partners. The composer, who puts his notes on paper, the interpreter, who takes them up and makes them sound and last but not least, and this is usually forgotten, is and remains the unknown factor, a dark intangible crowd with its own laws, the listener. What actually reaches the listener from what moved the composer's brain and stomach? Does what excites the listener's nervous sensors and from which he or, pardon the pun, she makes her own rhyme have anything in common with the composer's intentions, with the expressive will of the interpreter?

Prof. Jaeggi:
Preface, you know I know nothing about music. So I am a higher daughter who learned to play the piano. Miserably, I gave it up at some point. That's the preface.

Or are the images that come together on the quasi-acoustic projection screen of the listener's inner ear, more or less intermixed with extra-musical associations that care little for fluffed quintuplets, so far removed from the music that is performed in the concert hall that, if we take the trouble to try to reconstruct the course of these associations, we will have even greater difficulty in finding our way back from there to the music that was only the occasion for them?

A Pierre
approx. 30 sec.
(fade in - out rather quickly)

However - before we concentrate on the subject matter itself of this programme, so that you don't expect too much, a few limiting preliminary remarks. It is very likely that there are as many ways of listening as there are listeners, and even one and the same listener hears one and the same l,lmusic one way one day - and quite differently the next. The fact that a worker on an assembly line brings different expectations and listening habits with him to the concert hall than an academic with a doctorate in no way justifies the assumption that the latter will find it much easier to comprehend complex sound structures of contemporary music or simply listen more sensitively than his colleagues in the lower wage groups. It would be even more fatal if certain musical contents, whatever is to be understood by this in detail, were to be
social strata of our society as belonging to them. We must therefore turn to each individual listener - in order to get a picture of what is heard, how and why, and in what contexts.
and in what contexts. Whether the results, which we can only sketch here in essay form, are representative of contemporary music listeners, I dare not say. That each individual listener portrait - which we try to draw for them in loose succession on this station - approximates a certain type of listener, similar to the collection of Elias Cannetti's ear witnesses, of which there are only a limited number, that is my assumption. And I would like to introduce you to two such ear-witnesses: the professional EMPOWERED LISTENER and the sensitive PROFESSIONAL LISTENER - both of whom are lovers of Luigi Nono's music, especially his late work.

A Pierre
20 sec then out pretty quickly.

It depends on the attempt.

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller
Ulrich Holbein, Peter Sloterdijk, Wolfgang Rihm
Editorial Jounalist
Carolin Naujocks