Making perception aware of itself...

A Short Portrait of Helmut Lachenmann

My first encounter with Helmut Lachenmann, in 1989 at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart. As I was working for a theatre festival in Landshut at the same time, I called him and described my problem to him: Unfortunately, I have not had time to listen to a single note of their music, let alone read anything he had written or anything that had been written about his music. I would only know about him because a certain Mr. Michael Kopfermann, about whom I had previously produced a radio programme, mentioned his name so often that I had become curious about him. So whether it would be possible for us to talk about his music, his composing, with me as a complete ignoramus - I would promise that I would then research thoroughly before putting my manuscript on paper. Helmut Lachenmann replied: If I came ignorantly and listened to him, he would prefer that a hundred times more than if I had my programme about him already in my head before I spoke to him.

We then talked for a good four hours, at least long enough for the battery of my tape recorder to slowly give up the ghost and slow down the recording speed, which meant that Helmut Lachenmann's voice sounded like Mickey Mouse towards the end of our conversation. A technical device of the Bayerischer Rundfunk, called a "washing machine", with which playback speeds could be infinitely adjusted, fixed that ...

After the programme, I still remember, the head of the BR music department called me and said that he had listened to my portrait with interest. So far, he had perceived Helmut Lachenmann as an adolescent rebel and destroyer for the sake of destruction. After my contribution, he could respect Lachenmann's approach to composing, his thought processes, even though he would never love his music.

A little later I got my first commission for my own one-hour radio production about the then very successful composer Hans-Jürgen von Bose.

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller
Original Score
Helmut Lachenmann
Editorial Jounalist
Wolf Loeckle