Mauricio Kagel

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Mauricio Kagel (1985)

Mauricio Raúl Kagel (born December 24, 1931 in Buenos Aires ; † September 18, 2008 in Cologne ) was an Argentine-German composer , conductor , librettist and director . In addition to instrumental music and works for musical theater, his oeuvre also includes the composition and production of radio plays and films ; he made an important contribution to new music in the second half of the 20th century.


Mauricio Kagel was born in Buenos Aires in 1931 to a Jewish family who had fled Russia in the 1920s. He received private instrumental lessons at an early age and worked in Buenos Aires as a film critic , répétiteur and conductor , including at the Teatro Colón . Kagel had taken part in the Darmstadt summer courses for new music in the 1950s . In 1957 he traveled to Germany with his wife, the sculptor and graphic artist Ursula Burghardt (1928–2008), whom he married in the same year, on a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service . The couple had two daughters.

From 1960 he worked as a lecturer at the Darmstadt Summer Courses. In 1968, in collaboration with Wolf Vostell and others, Labor eV was founded, which was supposed to research acoustic and visual events. In Cologne the event 5-day race took place with his participation. In 1969 he was appointed director of the Institute for New Music at the Rheinische Musikschule in Cologne and, as successor to Karlheinz Stockhausen , was appointed director of the Cologne Courses for New Music (until 1975); In 1974 he received a professorship for music theater at the Cologne University of Music.

Kagel was a co-founder of the Ensemble for New Music in Cologne and has worked in the electronic studios in Cologne, Munich and Utrecht. He conducted many of his works himself and was the director and producer of all of his films and radio plays. On the occasion of his 75th birthday, he - a symbol of the German-Argentine cultural dialogue - made a guest appearance in July 2006 at the Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, the Goethe-Institut and the Teatro Margarita Xirgu with concerts, public rehearsals and lectures. His last concert appearance in Argentina had previously been in the 1970s. It began with his piece Eine Brise, fleeting Aktion für 111 cyclists , who first passed the theater “trilling, trilling”. Although he remained Argentine, the music critic sees Mauricio Kagel there as a “German composer”.

At the invitation of Walter Fink , he was the second composer in the annual composer portrait of the Rheingau Music Festival in 1991 .

In the 2006/2007 season, Mauricio Kagel was “Artist in Residence” at the Philharmonie Essen , where he also performed as a conductor. In the same year he was composer in residence at the Rostock University of Music and Theater . At a symposium in June 2007 at the University of Siegen , he received an honorary doctorate in philosophy. Mauricio Kagel lived in Cologne until his death .

Kagel has received numerous awards and prizes for his work and is represented at all important festivals for new music . Among others, the following have studied with him: Maria de Alvear , Carola Bauckholt , Theo Brandmüller , Martyn Harry , Bernhard König , Klaus König , Branimir Krstic , Yves-Miro Magloire , Dominik Sack , Juan María Solare , Manos Tsangaris , Chao-Ming Tung , Johannes S. Sistermanns , Thomas Becker , Ulrich Wagner and Daniel Weissberg .

Work and effect

Kagel is considered to be the most important representative of "instrumental theater", a kind of ritualized concert act, in which the visible side effects of making music (facial expressions, gestures, actions) are also included. An impressive example of his music theater works is the 1971 in the Hamburg State Opera premiered works State Theater , which will be listed because of threatening letters under police protection needed. Kagel himself developed his own instruments and playing techniques, for example for the film two-man orchestra or the instrumental theater Exotica . The scores are sometimes funny and original and consequently turn not only the expectations of the performers but also the listeners upside down. Theatricality and visible music also always play a major role in works for the concert hall . In the concert piece for timpani and orchestra , the soloist falls headlong into his instrument at the end. Other works include everyday objects (acustica) and noises. The use of electronics and tape playback, but also references to traditional music, were a matter of course for the cosmos of Kagel's music. Some of the explanations in the work are included in his filmic realizations. Kagel's work is often and in many ways interspersed with humor. He is interested in breaking through the fourth wall .

“Only people who have a sense of humor are relentlessly serious. But that has many facets. "

Mauricio Kagel

Honors, memberships

Works (selection)

Stage works

Cast sheet "State Theater" under the direction of the composer in 1971
  • State Theater . Scenic composition (1967/70), premiered at the Hamburg State Opera in 1971
  • Mare nostrum . Discovery, pacification and conversion of the Mediterranean by a tribe from Amazonia. Scenic play for countertenor, baritone, flute, oboe, guitar, harp, violoncello and percussion (1975)
  • Kantrimiusik . Pastorale for voices and instruments (1975)
  • The exhaustion of the world . Scenic Illusion in an Elevator (1980)
  • From Germany . A song opera (1981)
  • Oral betrayal (La Trahison oral) . A musical epic about the devil for 3 speakers / actors and 7 instrumentalists (1981–1983. German text version by Thomas Körner )
  • Tantz school. Ballet d'action (1988)

Vocal works

  • Prince Igor - Stravinsky, a funeral mass for Igor Stravinsky for bass voice and instruments (1982)
  • Sankt-Bach-Passion - for solos, choirs and large orchestra (premiered 1985)
  • Mitternachtsstük (1980–1981 / 86) for voices and instruments over four fragments from Robert Schumann's diary
  • A letter - concert scene for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1986)
  • Quodlibet - cantata for female voice and orchestra based on French chanson texts from the XV. Century (1986/88)
  • Liturgies for solos, double choir and large orchestra (1989/90)
  • Mutilated Messages - for baritone and instruments (1992)
  • Duodramas - for soprano, baritone and large orchestra (1997/98)
  • Black Madrigal - for choir, trumpet, tuba and 2 percussionists (1998/99)
  • Burlesque for saxophone and mixed choir (1999/2000)
  • Abduction in the concert hall - concert opera (2000)
  • In der Matratzengruft - for solo tenor and instrumental ensemble (2008)

Orchestral works

  • Dos piezas - for orchestra (1952)
  • Cuatro piezas breves para orquesta de cuerdas (Four pieces for string orchestra, 1954/56, WP posthumously 2011)
  • Ten Marches to Miss Victory, for concert band (1979)
  • Music for keyboard instruments and orchestra (1987/88)
  • Les idées fixes (Rondo for orchestra 1988/89)
  • Opus 1.991 (concert piece for orchestra, 1990)
  • Concert piece for timpani and orchestra (1990–1992)
  • The Pieces of the Windrose - 9 pieces for salon orchestra (composed from 1988–1994)
  • Études for large orchestra (1st 1992, 2nd 1995/96, 3rd 1996)
  • Broken Chords for large orchestra (2000/01)
  • Das Konzert - Concerto for flute , harp , percussion and strings (2001/02)
  • Strange Tones & Echoes - for large orchestra (2005)

Chamber music / ensemble works / instrumental theater

  • Heterophonie - for non-European instruments (1961)
  • Sur scene (1962)
  • Tremens (1966)
  • The Sound - For Five Players (1968)
  • Exotica - For non-European instruments (1971/72)
  • Tango Alemán - for voice, violin, bandonion and piano (1978)
  • Klangwölfe - for violin and piano (1979)
  • Trio for violin, violoncello and piano (1985)
  • From the estate - for viola, violoncello and double bass (1981–1986)
  • Fan fanfare for 4 trumpets (1993)
  • Schattenklänge - three pieces for bass clarinet (1995)
  • Art bruit (for drummers and assistants, 1994/95)
  • A Deux Mains - Impromptu for piano (1995)
  • Orchestrion-Straat - for chamber ensemble (1996)
  • 2nd piano trio, completed on September 11, 2001 (extracted from kidnapping in the concert hall )
  • Divertimento? - Farce for ensemble (2005/2006)
  • Musi for plucked orchestra

Radio plays

  • (Radio play) A recording condition, WDR 1969 ( Karl Sczuka Prize ).
  • Good Morning! WDR 1971.
  • Inside, WDR 1971.
  • Rehearsal - attempts for an improvised collective, WDR 1971.
  • Soundtrack, WDR 1975.
  • America's Reversal, WDR 1976 ( Prix ​​Italia ).
  • Der Tribun, WDR 1979 ( radio play award of the war blind ).
  • Rrrrrrr… - A radio fantasy, WDR 1982.
  • After reading Orwell, WDR / RB 1984.
  • Cecilia: Looted. A visit to the Holy, WDR 1985
  • Oral betrayal. A musical epic about the devil, WDR 1987.
  • Mare Nostrum - Discovery, pacification and conversion of the Mediterranean area by a tribe from Amazonia, WDR 1992.
  • Near and far. Radio piece for bells and trumpets with background, WDR 1994 ( Karl Sczuka Prize ).
  • Playback Play, WDR 1997.
  • Early Sale - Unfinished Memoirs of a Sound Engineer, WDR 2004.
  • Erratic blocks - radio piece made from acoustic images, SWR / HR 2008.


  • Antithesis. Game for an actor with electronic + public sounds (1965, b / w, 19 min.)
  • Match. For three players (1966, b / w, 27 min .; abridged version 1970: 21 min.)
  • Solo (1967, b / w, 26 min.)
  • Duo (1967/68, b / w, 41 min.)
  • Hallelujah (1968/96, b / w, 47 min.)
  • Ludwig van . A report (1970, b / w, 100 min.)
  • Two-man orchestra. For two one-man orchestras (1973, color, 71 min.)
  • Electricity (1975, color, 20 min.)
  • Kantrimiusik. Pastoral in Pictures (1976, color, 50 min.)
  • Phonophony. Four melodramas (1979, color, 38 min.)
  • Blue's Blue. A music-ethnological reconstruction for four musicians (1981, b / w, 31 min.)
  • MM 51. 1st version: A piece of film music for piano (1983, b / w, 10 min.)
  • MM 51. 2nd version: A piece of film music for piano and the projection of a collage by Mauricio Kagel from FW Murnaus Nosferatu (1922) (1983, b / w, 10 min.)
  • Scenario. Music for Un Chien Andalou ( Luis Buñuels film: 1929, music: 1982, b / w, 17 min.)
  • He. TV play about a radio fantasy (1984, b / w and color, 40 min., With Gert Haucke )
  • Dressage (1985, color, 36 min.)
  • Midnight Piece (1987, color, 36 min.)
  • Repertoire (1990, color, 57 min.)
  • intermezzo
  • Ex position (55 min.)
  • Bestiary (2000, color, 37 min.)


  • Mauricio Kagel: words about music . Conversations, essays, speeches, radio plays. Piper-Schott, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-492-18320-4 ; (Music series: Piper, Schott, Volume 8320).
  • Mauricio Kagel: hoopla. Monologues and dialogues about music . Articles, radio manuscripts, lectures and discussions edited by Felix Schmidt. Piper, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-492-02126-3 .


Media / CD recordings

The Winter & Winter label , which has been releasing works by Mauricio Kagel since 1998, published an edition consisting of two CDs and a DVD on the occasion of his 75th birthday, on which Mauricio Kagel reworked or remastered his own works. These revisions include the pieces of music Pandorasbox , Bandoneonpiece , Tango Alemán , Bestiarium , the radio play A recording state and the film Ludwig van .

Further recordings (selection):

  • Les idees fixes, music for keyboard instruments and orchestra, Opus 1.991. RSO Saarbrücken , collegno, 2000
  • Kagel conducts Kagel. SWR vocal ensemble, Hänssler, 2004
  • Pieces of compass rose. Schönberg-Ensemble, conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw , CD, Winter & Winter, 2004
  • Ludwig van. DVD, Winter & Winter, 2007
  • Acustica. TAM - Theater am Marienplatz, Krefeld, CD, ZigZag, 2008
  • Rrrrr ..., ten marches to miss victory. Gerd Zacher , military band, Mauricio Kagel, Aulos, 2006
  • Improvisation ajoutée, organ works. Dominik Susteck , Wergo 2016

Individual evidence

  1. Burghardt at ( Memento of the original from July 18, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Burghardt exhibition from August 10, 2010 at (review)
  3. Press release from the Goethe Institute: Mauricio Kagel as a guest in Buenos Aires 2006
  4. a b Music theater / Kagel: Za Za Pum Zaza. In: Der Spiegel . April 19, 1971.
  5. Axel Fuhrmann : Overcoming Time - The Composer Mauricio Kagel (2007)
  6. Merit holders since 1986. (PDF) State Chancellery of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, accessed on March 11, 2017 .

Web links

Commons : Mauricio Kagel  - Collection of images, videos and audio files